If you run a business under an assumed name in Illinois, you may want to set up a DBA. Short for “Doing Business As,” a DBA serves as an alternate title for your business. Often, a DBA is the name customers will use to refer to your company. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about DBAs: who needs one, who doesn’t, and two easy steps to filing with the state.
In Illinois, the DBA is actually called an “Assumed Name.” Essentially, they’re the same concept. “Assumed Name” is just the terminology used by the state. For consistency, we’ll call it an Assumed Name throughout the rest of this guide.
NOTE: Keep in mind that filing a trade name will not give your business protection through the corporate veil like an LLC will. If this is something you want or need, don’t fret, there are many good LLC services that can help you take care of the paperwork.
Do You Need an Illinois Assumed Name?
Not all business entities in Illinois need an Assumed Name. Ordinarily, a business needs an Assumed Name when the name of their business differs from the name registered with the state.
So let’s say that Lauren operates a sole proprietorship; her legal business formation documents list her full name as the legal owner of the business. But if she wants to run her shop under the name Sew Sweet Creations, she’d need to file an Assumed Name in order to use that name. An Assumed Name is also useful for corporations which want to establish additional businesses or locations with a name that’s different from the Corporation name.
Limited liability companies, nonprofit corporations, and corporations operating exclusively under the name on file with the state usually do not need an Assumed Name. They may choose to use one if they want to establish a new product line or chain of businesses under their original parent company.
An Illinois Assumed Name does present a few advantages. While it doesn’t offer any specific legal protections or tax incentives, an Assumed Name allows you to get a business bank account. You can also give your customers peace of mind—most people are more comfortable writing a check to a business than an individual.
1) File Your Assumed Name with the Illinois Secretary of State or Your Local Clerk
In Illinois, how you file your assumed names varies depending on your entity type. Incorporated entities such as LLCs and Corporations will need to file the Assumed Name with the Secretary of State. Individuals will need to file with their local county’s office instead.
Before we get to the filing, though, you should ensure that your desired name is available to begin with. In Illinois, both incorporated entities and unincorporated ones are not permitted to use names that are already reserved with the state. You can do so by running a Corporation/LLC Search by business name. This search tool will help you rule out what business names already exist in the state.
If no search results pop up which match your name exactly, then it has not already been reserved for use in the state. That means you’ll be able to file your assumed name.
Incorporated entities are required to file an Assumed Name Adoption with the Secretary of State. However, individual entities which wish to use an assumed name need to file with their local county clerk instead. If you’re an unincorporated entity, you’ll need to get in contact with your local office.
Filing fees vary depending on your county. The state’s fee, however, is $150 (plus a processing fee if filing online). You can usually file by mail or online.
2) Maintaining your Illinois Assumed Name
Your initial name registration is usually good for five years after your initial filing. After that, you’ll need to submit a renewal with the state or your county. Incorporated entities can find the necessary form at the Secretary of State’s Business Services.
Similarly, if you ever need to make a change to your business’s assumed name, you can file an Amendment. Unincorporated entities can contact their local office for amendments.
For incorporated entities, the fee is $150. The fee for unincorporated entities varies.
Need Help Filing your Assumed Name?
If this process sounds like a hassle, you can get help with setting up your business’s name with a service like Legalzoom. They make the process simple: you simply provide them with the necessary information about your company, and they’ll fill out the paperwork so you don’t have to. The process is both easy and affordable, letting you focus on running your business.
Your name is an important part of your business, but keeping compliant with state requirements can be tricky! We hope this guide made it quick and easy to set up your Illinois assumed name.