Can I register a DBA in a state that I don't live in?


I currently live outside of the US and I want my small (one person) software company to be in US jurisdiction. I'm not making enough money yet to justify forming an LLC, so I thought about filing for an assumed business name, preferably in Illinois, where I have a mailbox that I use for business related mail. Is it possible?

Incorporation International DBA

asked Jun 3 '12 at 20:38
Mike T
174 points
  • I could be wrong, but a DBA will have no impact on making your (non-existent) company under US jurisdiction. What problem are you really trying to solve? – Alain Raynaud 11 years ago

2 Answers


Yes, you can register a DBA in Illinois even if you don't live in there. Since you don't have a LLC or corporation, you are simply doing business in Illinois as a sole proprietor. Therefore, you won't need to file a foreign qualification/registration with the Secretary of State as is typical of limited liability entities. However, you will need to register with the Illinois Dept. of Revenue to do business there legally: As littleadv mentioned, the DBA registration will need to be done on a per county basis. For reference, here are guidelines from Cook County:

answered Jun 4 '12 at 06:14
Henry The Hengineer
4,316 points
  • And if you register as a DBA in Illinois you are responsible for collecting sales tax on all sales delivered (regardless of how they are delivered) to Illinois. That includes all commercial software (but not custom software). – Gary E 11 years ago
  • @GaryE - this has **nothing** to do with DBA. You're responsible for collecting sales taxes if you're doing business in Illinois, whether you register as DBA or not. Registering is just one of the ways to prove that you do business, but having a mail address in Illinois already covers that for the OP. – Littleadv 11 years ago
  • You are simply incorrect. See the US Supreme Court decision on Quill vs the state of ND. In the US you must collect state sales tax if you have a **business presence** in that state. We sell to **every** state in the US, but only collect sales tax for Illinois, because that is where our business is located. If you register a DBA in a state, you have a business presence there. – Gary E 11 years ago


DBA is not a company, its an alias. It just means "you can call Mike T as < whatever your DBA is > ". Generally its per county (at least in California), and you're supposed to file a DBA in every county you're having business (which may be problematic for internet-based businesses, counties all around may claim that you do business there).

If you already have a company and you want to "DBA" it, you have to first register it as a foreign entity with a state.

If you want to set up a company, to be a legal entity that is, you'll have to set up an LLC or a corporation. Depending on the state, the fees might be higher or lower. Some states require LLC's/corporations to file tax returns and some don't.

You should chose the state not by where the mailbox is, but by where the tax consequences are the best for you and the fees are the lowest. Then get a mailbox there.

Edit: Apparently the words "yes you can" were missing in my answer, but that's because its trivial. Of course you can. Its just not what you think it is.

answered Jun 4 '12 at 04:24
5,090 points
  • I'd appreciate the downvoter to explain why the precise and correct answer has been downvoted. – Littleadv 11 years ago

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Incorporation International DBA