How to File an Illinois DBA

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Filing an Illinois DBA, also known as an assumed business name, is a simple process that is completed at the county level or with the Illinois Secretary of State depending on your business structure.

Our How to File a DBA in Illinois guide will help you get started on branding your small business.

Important!

A DBA is used for branding purposes. A DBA isn't a type of business structure and won't protect your personal assets.

Forming an LLC is the best choice for most small businesses. Visit our DBA vs LLC guide to learn what types of businesses need limited liability protection.

How To Use This Guide

First, Choose Your Business Type:

Sole Proprietorship or Partnership

A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized.

LLC, Corporation, or LLP

If your business is an LLC, Corporation, or LLP, the information to set up your DBA can be found here.

Use A Professional Service

A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.

four point eight out of fiveMyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee) for a personalized DBA service.

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Filing an Illinois DBA for Sole Proprietors and General Partnerships

Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and professional corporations are required to file an Assumed Business Name Application with the appropriate County Clerk’s office(s).

A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized. If you run a business and file taxes under your own name, you are a sole proprietor.

A DBA doesn't offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.

SKIP AHEAD

If you need to create a DBA for an LLC or Corporation, you can click here to skip ahead.

Step 1: Start With a DBA Name Search

If you haven't already, head over to the Illinois Secretary of State website to make sure your name isn't taken by— or too similar to— another registered Illinois business.

TIP: Our business name generator tool is a great resource for entrepreneurs who are still working to create the perfect business name or website address.

Make sure your name complies with Illinois naming rules:

  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business. Learn more about Illinois naming guidelines here.

Next, a quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System will tell you whether someone else has already trademarked your name.

Now would be the perfect time to make sure there’s a web domain available for your DBA as well.

If you need extra guidance with naming your business, we can help.

Find a Domain Now

Service provided by GoDaddy.com

After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 2: Register Your DBA with the County Clerk

If your business is a sole proprietorship, professional corporation, or partnership, then you are required to file an Assumed Business Name Application with the appropriate county clerk’s office(s).

Knowing which county to file in is simple: you must file in any county where your business conducts or transacts business.


We will give you step-by-step directions to get a Cook County DBA. If you need to file in a different county than Cook County, you’ll have to get in touch with the county clerk for instructions.

You can find your counties' contact information here.

A DBA does not offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.

Publication Requirement

Sole proprietors, general partnerships, and professional corporations are required to publish a Copy of Legal Notice of Assumed Business Name in a local weekly newspaper after registering an assumed business name. Publication must occur within 15 days of registration and the notice must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.

For more information on publication and approved newspapers, contact your county clerk.

How to File a Cook County DBA

At this point, you should have already nailed down your DBA name and completed the name searches in Step 1 above.

Cook County suggests searching their assumed name records before you start the DBA filing process.

You can file your Assumed Business Name Application by mail, in-person, or electronically.

Register Your Assumed Business Name Application online here.

Register by mail or in-person:

Submit Signed and Notarized Form To:

Cook County Clerk
Vital Statistics PO Box 641070
Chicago IL, 60664-1070
ATTN: Assumed Name Unit

Payment

  • $50: Payable in person by cash, check, or money order; by mail please provide a check or money order payable to “Cook County Clerk.”

Manage Your Cook County DBA

DBA Questions

Call (312) 603-5652

Renew Your DBA

Your assumed name does not expire.

Change Your DBA

To make changes to your Assumed Business Name Application, file electronically on the Cook County Clerk’s office website or fill out and submit the Notification of Assumed Business Name Amendments form. The Cook County Clerk will supply the form and the fee to file is $25.

Withdraw Your DBA

File the Notification of Assumed Business Name Amendments form with the Cook County Clerk.

Filing an Illinois DBA for LLCs, Corporations, and LLPs

LLCs, Corporations, and LLPs must file their DBA with the Illinois Secretary of State. The following business types file with the Illinois Secretary of State:

  • For-profit Corporations, Non-Profit Corporations
  • Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Any Foreign Filing Entities

If you are registering a sole proprietorship, professional corporation, or partnership, go back to the DBA guide for unincorporated businesses.

Step 1: Start With A DBA Name Search

If you haven't already, head over to the Illinois Secretary of State website to make sure your name isn't taken by— or too similar to— another registered Illinois business.

TIP: Our business name generator tool is a great resource for entrepreneurs who are still working to create the perfect business name or website address.

Make sure your name complies with Illinois naming rules:

  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business. Learn more about Illinois naming guidelines here.

Next, a quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System will tell you whether someone else has already trademarked your name.

Now would be the perfect time to make sure there’s a web domain available for your DBA as well.

If you need extra guidance with naming your business, we can help.

Find a Domain Now

Service provided by GoDaddy.com

After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 2: Register Your DBA with the State

If your business is an LLC, LLP, or corporation, you are required to file your DBA with the Illinois Secretary of State. Illinois offers both online and mail-in DBA registrations. The forms and rules vary between LLCs and corporations.

A DBA does not offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For more information on setting up a limited liability company, visit our How to Form an LLC page and select your state.

DBA Registration for an LLC

If you'd prefer to file online, you can do that here for an LLC.

An LLC cannot register an assumed name online in the following situations:

  • The LLC is not in good standing or has expired
  • The LLC has been revoked or withdrawn, terminated or dissolved
  • The LLC needs to sign the application with multiple signatures or by the power of attorney

To file by mail or in person, first, print a copy of the application. If your business is an LLC, use form LLC-1.20.

The application will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business, such as:

  • Line 1: Your current legal name
  • Line 2: The state or country in which your LLC was organized
  • Line 3: If it is a Series of the LLC that is filing

Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756

DBA Registration for a Corporation

If you’d prefer to file online, you can do that here for a corporation.

To file by mail or in person, first, print a copy of the application. If your business is a corporation, use form BCA-4.15/4.20.

The application will ask for your new DBA name and information about your business, such as:

  • Line 2: State or county of the corporation
  • Line 3: Date incorporated or date authorized to conduct business in Illinois (if a foreign corporation)
  • Line 5: Effective date of assumed name if adopting or changing
  • Line 6: Old assumed name if changing or cancelling

Submit your application by mail or in-person to:

Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Payment and Fees

Initial Filing Fee:

  • $150 for each year ending in 0 or 5, $120 for each year ending in 1 or 6
  • $90 for each year ending in 2 or 7, $60 for each year ending in 3 or 8
  • $30 for each year ending in 4 or 9

Payment:

If filing online, payment must be in the form of a credit card — Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. If filing in person or by mail, payment may be made by check payable to Secretary of State.

Manage Your Illinois State DBA

DBA Questions

Call the Illinois Department of Business Services: (217) 782-6961

Renew Your DBA with the State

Your certificate of assumed name expires after five years. The fee to renew your assumed name is $150. A penalty of $100 will apply to any assumed name renewed on or after the first day of the company's anniversary month.

Change Your DBA

To make changes to your certificate of assumed name, you must complete and submit the Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel or Renew an Assumed Name for either an LLC or a corporation. The fee to file your assumed name change is $25.

Expedite Your DBA Filing

Non-expedited service will be reviewed within 10 days of submission. Expedited service requests will be reviewed within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays). The expedited fee is $50.

Withdraw Your DBA

You can find the Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel or Renew an Assumed Name here for an LLC or here for a corporation. The fee to cancel an assumed name is $5.

Need Help Filing Your DBA?

Have A Professional Service File Your DBA For You

A professional service will handle filing your DBA on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.

We recommend using MyCompanyWorks ($99 + state fee) for a personalized DBA service.

Illinois DBA FAQ

Can I file a DBA online in Illinois?

Yes. You can register Your Assumed Business Name (DBA) Application here.

How Do I Change My DBA in Illinois?

To make changes to your assumed name, you must complete and submit the Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel or Renew an Assumed Name form for an LLC or the Application To Adopt, Change Or Cancel An Assumed Corporate Name form for a corporation.

For sole proprietorships or partnerships, visit the County Clerk’s office to complete an amendment form and pay a filing fee. Contact your county clerk for county-specific instructions for changing your DBA at the county level.

How Can I Withdraw my DBA?

To withdraw your assumed name, you must complete and submit the Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel or Renew an Assumed Name form for an LLC or the Application To Adopt, Change Or Cancel An Assumed Corporate Name form for a corporation.

For sole proprietorships or partnerships, visit the County Clerk’s office to complete an amendment form and pay a filing fee. Contact your county clerk for county-specific instructions for changing your DBA at the county level.

How Often Should I Renew My Illinois DBA?

Your Illinois assumed name needs to be renewed every five years for an LLC or corporation.

When is a DBA required in Illinois?

A DBA is required whenever a business is operating under a name other than its legal name. When the business name is different from the owner’s full legal name(s), the "Assumed Name Act" requires sole proprietorships and general partnerships to register the business name with their county clerk's office.

How Do I Transfer my DBA in Illinois?

Most transfers can be completed by filing an amendment to change the owner’s name.

How many DBAs can I have?

You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. However, more isn’t necessarily better. Each one will come with additional incremental expense and paperwork, so you will want to make sure you have a good reason for each one you have.

Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?

DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.

To learn more about EINs and when you would need one for your business, read What is An EIN from our friends at TRUiC.

Can a DBA become an LLC?

Your DBA is just a name. A DBA is often confused with a sole proprietorship. If you mean “can my sole proprietorship become an LLC?” then the answer is “Yes. Absolutely.”

To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.

Can a DBA have "Inc." in the name?

A DBA can only have "Inc." in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.

How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?

It’s always best to consult an attorney. Usually, the best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. Holding the rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection.

Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?

There are some state-level laws that prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines

Useful Links for Your Illinois DBA