One of the most important parts of any business is its name. Your limited liability company’s name is your first impression with prospective clients, whether they hear about your business by word of mouth, drive past a billboard advertising your business on the freeway, or if they stumble upon your business as a result of a Google search.
One way to change your business name — or to add an additional name that your LLC can use interchangeably — is by filing a “doing business as” name application, commonly known as a DBA. There are many reasons to get a DBA — from marketing a new product line to granting a sole proprietorship the ability to use an assumed name — so this article will walk you through the process of registering a DBA for your Illinois LLC.
A solid name goes a long way in establishing your brand in customers’ minds. Doing Business As (DBA) names give you increased customization, flexibility, and versatility with your business identity. Once you're ready to lock it down, have ZenBusiness file all the paperwork.
Alternatively, if you’d rather just setup an LLC, we have a special discount running and will do it for $0 + state fee ($79 less than LegalZoom).
What Is a DBA?
To begin, let’s quickly run down what exactly a DBA is. One point of confusion we often hear about is that a DBA is not a business entity, like an LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, general partnership, etc. Instead, you can think of a DBA as an add-on feature of sorts.
The DBA allows you to create alternate business names for your entity, which you can then use interchangeably with your LLC’s official business name. In addition, for informal business entities that don’t have exclusive business names (like sole proprietorships and general partnerships), a DBA can be a great way to inject some additional professionalism into a business venture.
But let’s talk strictly about LLCs, shall we? Why would an LLC want an additional business name? There are several potential reasons, although they obviously vary considerably depending on what your business does. One popular reason is to differentiate a new product line from a company’s existing offerings.
Let’s say that you own a business called “Fine Footwear, LLC” that produces high-end shoes. If you decide to also start a new product line that sells inexpensive flip-flop sandals, you might want a way to differentiate this brand from your core business. In this circumstance, you could register a DBA for “Flip-Flops by Fine Footwear,” and you can use this name to market your new products, while your original product line remains unaffected if your sandal side business fails.
It could also be helpful if you decide to expand your local business into a new market. For instance, if you own an Illinois-based plumbing business called “Chicago Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Chicago, you can register a DBA for “Peoria Plumbing” and use that name in the Peoria market.
The state of Illinois includes more protections for DBA names than most states do because, in most states, there is no exclusivity for a DBA. If another business decides that they want to use your DBA as their own name, many states allow them to do just that. However, Illinois requires that all DBAs filed in this state must have unique business names, which makes the DBA a more viable option in Illinois than it is in most other states.
How to Get a DBA for an Illinois LLC
First off, we’ll note that Illinois typically refers to DBAs as “assumed names,” but for the purposes of this article, we’ll continue to use both terms interchangeably because most states use the term “DBA.”
The process for obtaining a DBA in Illinois varies considerably depending on what type of business you run. Therefore, this guide will only describe the process to register an assumed name for an LLC — corporations file a different form, and sole proprietorships and general partnerships follow an entirely different process that requires registration with county entities and advertising in local newspapers.
To register a DBA for an LLC, you’ll first need to search the state’s business database to make sure the name you want is available. Once you’ve determined the name’s availability, you can fill out the Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel, or Renew an Assumed Name.
This form requires your LLC’s official business name, the jurisdiction where you originally registered your LLC, whether or not your LLC is a series, the assumed name you’re registering, the date, your name and title, and your signature. When you’re ready to file the form, you can submit it online, by mail, or by hand to the Secretary of State.
When it comes to filing fees, Illinois has a rather bizarre system with variable fees depending on the year in which you file the form:
- $150 for years ending in 0 or 5
- $120 for years ending in 1 or 6
- $90 for years ending in 2 or 7
- $60 for years ending in 3 or 8
- $30 for years ending in 4 or 9
As for turnaround times, non-expedited orders will take roughly 10 days to process. If you choose to expedite your order for $50, your filing will be processed in one business day.
To be honest, we often say that entrepreneurs shouldn’t bother with DBAs because they don’t provide any exclusivity for your business name. However, Illinois actually does a solid job in this regard compared to most states.
Illinois’ requirement for exclusivity regarding any assumed name registered here makes the DBA an interesting proposition in this state, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this option to any of our readers.
If you’re looking for a new way to market your LLC in Illinois, a DBA isn’t a bad idea.