Business Registration for a DBA in Illinois

By David Carnes

A business may elect to operate under a DBA ("doing business as") name that is different from its legal name. When this occurs, it is important that the public be informed that the two names represent the same entity. To file a lawsuit against the business, for example, you must know its legal name. The Illinois Business Code requires businesses to follow certain procedures to register a DBA name.

Legal Names vs.DBAs

The legal name of a sole proprietorship is the name of the individual owner, while the legal name of a general partnership is either the name stated in the partnership agreement or the last names of the partners. Use of the entity's legal name may be inconvenient for business purposes – a sole proprietorship, for example, might prefer to advertise itself as "Doll Face Disco" rather than "Ronald H. Stewart." In Illinois, only sole proprietorships, general partnerships and professional corporations are required to register DBA names; limited liability companies and corporations are not required to register DBAs.

DBA Restrictions

A DBA may not misrepresent the area in which it operates. This means a business may not advertise or register itself as "Chicago Catering" if it does not do business in Chicago. Some cases are ambiguous, however; "Vincent's Chicago Pizza," for example, might be acceptable because it identifies a style of pizza preparation rather than a location. A DBA is also prohibited from misrepresenting the type of business it operates – for example, a payday loan service may not advertise itself as "Carrington Bank" if it is not licensed to perform full banking services.

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Application

To apply for registration of a DBA name in Illinois, you must complete an assumed name application for each county in which you do business. This application requires you to include your legal business name and addresses, the nature of your business, the names and addresses of the owners and the business's DBA name. You must also complete and submit a Copy of Legal Notice to be Published form along with the local filing fee. The county clerk will assign a file number and return the legal notice with the application file number.

Publication

You must publish the legal notice once a week in a local newspaper of general circulation in the county where you are registering your DBA name within 15 days of the application filing date. The notice must appear at least once a week for three consecutive weeks. You must obtain a Certificate of Publication from the newspaper and submit it to the county clerk, along with a clipping of the notice, within 50 days of the application filing date. The county clerk with then issue you an Assumed Business Name Certificate.

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Do General Partnerships Require a DBA?
 

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How to Operate an LLC Under a Personal Name

A limited liability company, or LLC, must register with a state. Part of the process of registering is selecting a business name that complies with state law. The registration process differs from state to state, but all states have the same two legal requirements for business names: the name must be distinguishable from any other business operating in the state, and it must include a suffix that alerts the public to the business's status as an LLC. Any name can be used, including the name of a person, as long as the name meets these two requirements.

How to Register a DBA Name So No One Else Can Use It

Companies and individuals can operate under fictitious, or assumed, names called DBAs. DBA stands for "doing business as" -- and state laws regarding DBAs vary. It is a misdemeanor crime in Missouri and Michigan to conduct business using an unregistered DBA. Other states, such as Tennessee, do not always require you to register assumed names.

Rules and Regulations for a Sole Proprietorship

Starting your new business as a sole proprietorship is the easiest and least expensive legal business structure you can use, as opposed to forming a corporation or limited liability company. As a sole proprietor, you are the sole owner of your business and generally have the flexibility to operate your business as you see fit, subject to the rules and regulations that apply to similar businesses in your state and local area.

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