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How to Register a Business Name in Illinois – Expert Guide

    How to Register a Business Name in Illinois
    (Last Updated On: September 18, 2023)

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    If you’re looking to set up your business in Illinois, you’ve come to the right place! Register a business name in Illinois is a critical step toward building a solid brand identity and complying with state regulations. Whether you’re forming an LLC or corporation or opting for a “doing business as” (DBA) name, we’re here to walk you through the registration process. 

    For a seamless experience and personalized assistance, consider partnering with ZenBusiness. Their expertise in business registration can help you navigate the complexities and get your Illinois business up and running smoothly. Let’s work together to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true in the Land of Lincoln!

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    4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Illinois

    Registering your business name in Illinois is a crucial step in establishing your entrepreneurial presence in the state. Follow these four simple steps to officially register your business name in Illinois:

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Illinois

    The first and most critical step in the process is deciding on the ideal business structure that aligns with your business’s nature and growth plans. Illinois offers several options, each catering to different needs:

    Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business structure where the business and the owner are considered one entity legally. While it’s easy to set up with minimal administrative formalities, the owner becomes personally liable for the business’s debts and liabilities. In Illinois, registration of the sole proprietorship with the state isn’t mandatory, but you might need to acquire local permits or licenses.

    General Partnership

    A general partnership involves two or more individuals who share profits and losses in the business. Like a sole proprietorship, a general partnership doesn’t require state registration, but you may need to file a “Certificate of Assumed Name” (DBA) in the county where your business operates.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

    A limited partnership consists of general partners with unlimited personal liability and limited partners who contribute capital but have restricted liability. To establish an LP in Illinois, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Illinois Secretary of State.

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    An LLC is a flexible business structure that combines the benefits of limited liability protection from corporations with the tax advantages and simplicity of partnerships. To create an LLC in Illinois, you need to file “Articles of Organization” with the Illinois Secretary of State and draft an Operating Agreement outlining the company’s management and ownership structure.


    A corporation is a distinct legal entity from its shareholders, offering limited liability protection. Illinois has two types of corporations – C-corporations and S-corporations. Creating a corporation requires filing “Articles of Incorporation” with the Illinois Secretary of State and adhering to more formalities, such as developing bylaws, issuing stock, and conducting regular board and shareholder meetings.

    Choosing the right business structure in Illinois is essential, as it impacts liability protection, taxation, and management requirements. Seek guidance from legal or business professionals if you need assistance making this critical decision.

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    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Illinois

    One of the crucial steps in starting a business in Illinois is choosing a distinctive and appropriate business name. Registering a business name involves understanding the various naming options and guidelines set forth by the state. Here’s an expert guide to help you through the process:

    When establishing a business in Illinois, you must register a legal entity name with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. It’s essential to ensure that your chosen name is distinct from any other registered business name in the state. Additionally, the name should include an appropriate identifier that indicates the type of business entity you’re forming, such as LLC, Corporation, or Limited Partnership.

    To check the availability of your preferred business name, utilize the Illinois Secretary of State’s website or their Business Entity Search tool.

    Trademark Protection

    Consider obtaining a trademark to protect your business name or logo at a national level. Conduct a thorough trademark search in the USPTO database to ensure that the name or logo you wish to use isn’t already registered by someone else.

    Obtaining a trademark provides broader protection, preventing others from using the same or similar name or logo for similar goods or services. However, it’s important to note that registering a trademark does not automatically grant the right to use the name or logo in all circumstances.

    Doing Business As (DBA) Name

    Illinois businesses have the option to register a Doing Business As (DBA) name, also known as an Assumed Name or Fictitious Business Name. This allows you to operate under a different name than your legal entity name.

    To register a DBA name in Illinois, you’ll need to file an Assumed Name Certificate with the county clerk’s office in the county where your business is located. Just like with the legal entity name, the DBA name must also be distinguishable from any other registered business name in Illinois.

    By carefully considering these naming options and adhering to the state’s guidelines, you can successfully register a unique business name in Illinois that not only meets the legal requirements but also safeguards your brand identity. Taking these steps will set the stage for your business to thrive and make a mark in the vibrant Illinois business landscape.

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    Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Illinois

    Before registering your business in Illinois, it’s essential to check if the name you desire is available. To conduct a comprehensive business name availability search, follow these three steps:

    Begin by performing a federal trademark search to determine if your preferred business name is already trademarked. Federal trademarks take precedence over state-level registrations, so it’s crucial to ensure your name isn’t already claimed. To conduct the search, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and use the TESS Search tool.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    After confirming that your name isn’t trademarked, proceed to check its availability for use in Illinois. Utilize the Illinois Department of Business Services database search to look for registered business names in the state. Check not only for an exact match but also for significantly similar business names to avoid any conflicts.

    Once you’ve ensured that your business name isn’t trademarked and is available for use in Illinois, take the additional step of checking the availability of the .com domain for your business name. While not every business may need a website, it’s wise to secure the .com version of your name if possible.

    Registering the .com version of your business name with ZenBusiness ensures exclusive ownership, safeguarding it from others. At an affordable cost, ZenBusiness helps protect your brand identity and online presence.

    By conducting these three searches, you can ensure that your desired business name is available for use and avoid potential legal issues or conflicts with existing businesses.

    Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Illinois

    After finalizing your business structure and selecting a name, the next step is to officially form your business by registering it with the state of Illinois.

    For an Illinois LLC, you must submit the Articles of Organization to the Illinois Secretary of State. This can be done either online or by mail. If you’re forming an Illinois corporation, you’ll need to file the Articles of Incorporation with the Illinois Secretary of State.

    You May Also Want to Know

    Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark

    Once you have confirmed the availability of your chosen business name and secured it, you have the option to apply for a trademark. Although this may involve costs ranging from $225 to $400, along with attorney fees and a renewal fee every 10 years, it offers nationwide brand protection under federal law. 

    This means that if other businesses attempt to use a similar name, you have legal precedence on your side. However, for most small businesses, especially those operating locally, trademark protection may not be necessary.

    >> File a Trademark with IncFile >>

    How to File an Illinois Fictitious Name – DBA?

    To file an Illinois Fictitious Name (Doing Business As – DBA), you can follow these steps:

    1. Choose a Unique Name: Select a business name that’s not already in use by another company in Illinois
    1. Verify Name Availability: Check with the Illinois Secretary of State’s website or do a business name search to ensure that the name you want is available and not already registered by another entity
    1. Obtain the Required Form: Obtain the “Assumed Business Name” or “DBA Registration Form” from the county clerk’s office in the county where your business will be located
    1. Fill Out the Form: Complete the DBA registration form with accurate information about your business and the chosen fictitious name
    1. Notarize the Form (If Required): Some counties may require notarization of the form. Check with the county clerk’s office to see if this step is necessary
    1. Pay the Filing Fee: Pay the required filing fee, which may vary depending on the county. Accepted forms of payment may differ, so inquire about the acceptable payment methods
    1. Submit the Form: File the completed DBA registration form and the filing fee with the county clerk’s office. You can usually do this in person or through the mail, depending on the county’s procedures
    1. Obtain the Certificate: Once your DBA registration is processed and approved, you will receive a “Certificate of Assumed Name” or similar document. This certificate confirms that you can legally operate your business under the chosen fictitious name
    1. Renewal (if applicable): Some counties require periodic renewals of DBA registrations. Make sure to keep track of the renewal dates to ensure your DBA remains valid

    The process and requirements for filing a DBA may vary slightly from one county to another in Illinois. It’s essential to contact the specific county clerk’s office where your business will be located to get the most up-to-date and accurate information on filing a fictitious name (DBA) in that area.

    How to Change the Name of an Illinois Business?

    If you wish to change the name of your business in Illinois, there are two methods to do so:

    • Assumed Name (DBA Name): This is the simplest way to operate your business under a different name without altering its legal name. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships can use an assumed name, and it’s also a convenient option for LLCs and corporations to operate under brand names without the required “LLC” or “Inc.” suffix in their legal name.
    • Amendment to Legal Name: If you want to officially change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, you will need to file an amendment. This process is the best approach to modifying the formal name of your business.

    To proceed, you can submit both LLC and corporation filings online with a $50 filing fee, or you may choose to mail the documents to the Illinois Secretary of State.

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    Business Name Registration Laws in Illinois

    Here are some general guidelines on business name registration in Illinois:

    • Business Structure: The process of registering a business name can vary depending on the type of business structure you choose. Common business structures include sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), and corporation.
    • Choosing a Business Name: When selecting a business name, it’s essential to ensure that it’s unique and does not infringe on any existing trademarks or intellectual property rights. You can conduct a name search through the Illinois Secretary of State’s website or contact them directly to check the availability of your desired business name.
    • Trade Names: In Illinois, a business may also operate under a trade name or “doing business as” (DBA) name. If your business operates under a name other than your legal business name, you will need to file a DBA registration with the county clerk’s office where your business is located.
    • Registering the Business: Different business structures have various registration requirements. For example, LLCs and corporations need to file formation documents with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, while sole proprietors and partnerships may need to file with the county or local authorities.
    • Licensing and Permits: Depending on the type of business you’re operating and its location, you may need to obtain specific licenses and permits at the local, state, or federal level. It’s essential to research the requirements specific to your industry and locality.
    • Renewals: Some business registrations and permits may require periodic renewals. It’s essential to keep track of these renewal dates to ensure compliance with the law.

    For the most up-to-date and accurate information on business name registration laws in Illinois, you should visit the official website of the Illinois Secretary of State or consult legal professionals who specialize in business law in the state. Remember that specific requirements may vary depending on the nature of your business and its location within Illinois.

    Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Illinois

    In summary, registering a business name in Illinois is the crucial first step toward your entrepreneurial aspirations in the Land of Lincoln. Carefully choose a unique business name and legal structure that aligns with your vision. Completing the required registrations and exploring trademark protection or a DBA name provides a strong footing for your business’s success. 

    Consider utilizing LLC services such as ZenBusiness for professional assistance throughout the registration process. With your determination and drive, your registered business name will leave an indelible mark on Illinois’ vibrant business landscape.

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