Getting Started with a Fictitious Business Name in Chicago
When you become a business owner, one of your first steps is to choose a business name4 min read
When you become a business owner, one of your first steps is to choose a business name. If you're located in Chicago, the process for getting started with a fictitious business name, or a “doing business as” (DBA) name is a little different than in other parts of the country. In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know to make sure your business name is properly registered and legally protected in the city of Chicago.
When registering a DBA name, it’s important to understand that while business names must meet certain standards, they cannot be taken or claimed by another business, either in the city of Chicago or any other city in the US. This article will discuss the steps for registering a fictitious business name in Chicago and provide tips on finding a business name that’s unique and legal. It will also provide information on where to go to get help if you need legal guidance on choosing a business name.
Steps for Registering a Fictitious Business Name in Chicago
Before getting started with a fictitious business name, it’s important to understand that the process for registering your business name varies depending on the type of business you’re registering. In Chicago, business owners must register a DBA if their business is either:
A sole proprietorship (an unincorporated business where the owner is the sole person responsible for the management and debts of the business), or
A professional services company such as a lawyer, accountant, doctor, architect, or engineer.
If you’re registering a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), this procedure does not apply. For these types of businesses, you will need to register your business with the Illinois Secretary of State.
If you’re registering a DBA, the process is as follows:
Ensure that your fictitious business name is eligible. Your business name must adhere to certain standards. It must be distinguishable from any other business names registered in the state of Illinois, it cannot contain a last name or the title of any corporation, and it cannot be a name that may cause confusion or deceive the public.
Apply for a fictitious business name registration with the Cook County Clerk’s office. You must submit an application to the clerk’s office along with a $50 fee. The application must be signed by the owner of the business and include a sworn statement that the name complies with the requirements mentioned above.
Wait for approval. Once your application is received by the clerk’s office, they will review it and notify you whether it has been approved or denied. This process is usually completed within a few weeks.
File the approved application with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. The clerk’s office will provide you with an approved application that must be filed with the Recorder of Deeds. You must also pay a filing fee of $15 when you submit the application.
Publish a public notice. The Recorder of Deeds will also require that you publish a public notice in a newspaper of general circulation in Chicago. This notice must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.
Keep your records up to date. Once you’ve registered your fictitious business name with the Cook County Clerk and Recorder of Deeds, you must keep your records up to date. The fictitious business name must be renewed every five years, and you must file any necessary changes with the Clerk’s office and the Recorder of Deeds immediately.
Tips for Finding a Unique Name
Once you’ve completed the necessary steps for registering a fictitious business name, you may find yourself having difficulty finding a unique name that isn’t already taken. Here are a few tips to help make the process a little easier:
Think outside the box. Your business name doesn’t have to be straightforward. Consider using puns or plays on words when creating your fictitious business name.
Check domain availability. You may want to register a domain name for your business, so it’s a good idea to check if the name is available before you register your business.
Search the business database. You can search the business names database from the Cook County Clerk’s office to see if the name you want to use is already taken.
Hire an attorney. If you’re having difficulty finding a unique name or need legal guidance in the process, consider hiring an attorney. There are experienced business attorneys in Chicago who specialize in registering fictitious business names and can provide helpful advice.
Getting started with a fictitious business name in Chicago can be a daunting task, but with a little guidance and some careful planning, you can make sure your business name is legally protected and unique. Following the steps outlined above can help you avoid any legal problems down the road, and if you need assistance, there are qualified attorneys in Chicago who specialize in registering fictitious business names and can provide helpful advice.