Startup businesses have plenty to juggle when launching their endeavor. One of the earliest steps that business owners have to consider is the official name of their business. One way to go about this is to file a fictitious business name (FBN), or a "doing business as" (DBA) name. Filing an FBN can be done quickly and is relatively easy to do for many business owners.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the basic information related to FBN, and cover topics such as filing requirements, registration, regulations, costs, and other key information. By the end of this article, you will be in a better position to make an informed decision about the process of filing a fictitious business name.

What Is a Fictitious Business Name?

A fictitious business name is a name that a person or company uses to conduct business, yet it is not the legally registered name of that person or company. It allows business owners to conduct affairs using a different name than their own name, or the legally registered name of the business.

FBNs are used for various reasons. They are often used to accommodate expansion of a business, or by professionals that want to open a new business related to their current line of work. For example, a lawyer might use a DBA name for a separate private consulting business he runs in addition to his law practice.

FBNs are also applied to businesses when the owner wishes to keep the name distinct from its operations. For example, an art dealer may not wish to use their legal name as his business name and may choose to open a gallery using a distinct and appealing name for that purpose.

Filing Requirements

The filing requirements for an FBN differ from one state to another. In case of Illinois, for instance, all business owners who intend to conduct business under a trade name that isn't their own must register that name. This applies if the sole proprietor is filing a fictitious business name, a corporation wishes to use a "doing business as" (DBA) name, or any other entity. The process of filing an FBN is fairly straightforward and can be done in a few steps.

First, you must obtain a business name registration with your local county clerk's office. There, you will be asked to provide your name and address, the name and address of the owner of the business, a description of the business, and the business address.

You will also be asked to sign an affidavit that the name is available in Illinois at the time of filing. The registration form also requires that at least two persons legally responsible for the business sign the form affirming that the information on the form is true and correct.

Regulation of FBN

In addition to the filing requirements, there are a few other regulations that business owners must follow when it comes to filing their fictitious business name. First of all, any proposed business name must not include any misleading or false statements. Secondly, the name must not be similar to that of an existing business. Thirdly, the name must not contain any offensive language or connotations. Lastly, if the business name will be used for a professional service, it must include the last name of at least one of the owners.

These regulations ensure that competing businesses do not use misleading or false information to deceive potential customers while also maintaining the public's trust. The regulations help ensure that businesses are operating under a name that is adequate, fitting, and not misleading to consumers.

Furthermore, businesses must be aware that if they choose to change their name after filing an FBN, they must file an additional fictitious business name registration. They must also post a statement of the name change in a prominent location in their place of business.

Costs and Benefits

The filing fee for fictitious business names varies as well, depending on each local county clerk's office. The fee in Cook County, for example, is about $75. The fees in neighboring counties are generally similar.

Filing a fictitious business name comes with several advantages. First and foremost, it allows you to operate under a different name than your own or the legal name of your business. It also provides increased legitimacy and credibility to the business's actions, as customers will often see the DBA name as distinct from the legal name of the business. Finally, it helps prevent trademark infringement and other legal issues down the road.


Fictitious business names (FBNs) provide useful options to business owners intending to operate under a name apart from their own or the legal name of the business. Having said that, registering an FBN is a relatively easy and straightforward process and is also fairly inexpensive. While filing an FBN, business owners must take into account the regulations that apply to the name they are choosing, and also be mindful of any additional requirements and filing fees. Ultimately, registering an FBN provides many benefits to business owners who want to maintain a distinct and competent name for their business.


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