How to Start an LLC in Illinois

Written by: Mary Gerardine

Last updated:

An Illinois LLC is one of the most simple, cost-effective, and quick business structures to form. Even so, navigating the formation process can seem daunting without clear guidance and an actionable plan.

In this How to Start an LLC in Illinois guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to form your LLC, from the steps you’ll need to take to get started to maintaining your structure.

LLC Illinois

In order to form an LLC in Illinois, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Name Your Illinois LLC
  2. Pick an Illinois Registered Agent
  3. Submit Your Articles of Organization
  4. Create an Illinois LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File Your BOI Report

In the sections below, we’ve broken down each of these steps in more detail.

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Step 1: Name Your Illinois LLC

The first thing you’ll need to do before getting started is picking the right name for your LLC. This is important because your business’s name will need to represent your brand accurately, as well as be as memorable as possible.

In Illinois, all LLC names need to abide by the following statutory guidelines in order to be accepted by the Secretary of State:

  • Names must contain the business entity identifier “Limited Liability Company” (or any acceptable abbreviation such as “L.L.C.” or “LLC”)
    • Names cannot include any terms that might mislead the public regarding the business’s entity type, such as “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Limited Partnership”, or any abbreviations of these terms
  • Names must be distinguishable from all currently registered, reserved, and assumed names of domestic and foreign LLCs and corporations in Illinois
  • Names may only be written in permitted letters and characters — this includes letters from the English alphabet, Roman and Arabic numerals, and symbols that the Department of Business Services can reproduce
  • Names that suggest or state that the business is organized for any of the following are not permitted:
    • Insurance, assurance, or banking purposes (except with permission under Section 46 of the Illinois Banking Act)
    • The business of a corporate fiduciary (except permission under Section 1-9 of the Corporate Fiduciary Act)

The rules governing the LLC names that are considered acceptable within Illinois are covered in more detail in the Illinois Department of Business Services’s naming guidelines.

Keep in mind that even though picking an LLC name in itself has no cost, there are certain fees that can be associated with the overall process.

Reserve an LLC Name

If you’re not yet ready to launch your business and still need a little more time, you can choose to reserve your desired LLC name for later by submitting Form LLC-1.15 with the Secretary of State ($25 fee). This will keep anyone from being able to take the name you plan to use for 90 days.

You’ll only be able to submit this name reservation form by either delivering it in-person at the Department of Business Services, or by filing it by mail to the following address:

Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756

It’s important to be aware that even after an LLC in Illinois has been administratively dissolved, its name cannot be used again by another entity until three years have passed since the date of its dissolution.

Note: Be sure to check the desired name for your LLC is actually available before spending your money on a name reservation. This can be done by either calling the Illinois Secretary of State at (217) 524-8008 or by using the Corporate Name Availability Inquiry Form on its website.

Register an Assumed Name

Another potential cost associated with naming your LLC is registering an assumed name — which is commonly referred to as a “doing business as” (or DBA) name in other states.

This is essentially a nickname that you can choose to register for your business to operate under — particularly if you’re not content with your LLC’s legal name.

Registering a DBA name can either be done by filing an Application to Adopt an Assumed Name with the Secretary of State or submitting a request online.

The fee you’ll need to pay in order to obtain an assumed name in Illinois ranges between $30 and $150 depending on the year in which you submit the request, according to the following:

  • $150: Each year ending in 0 or 5
  • $120: Each year ending in 1 or 6
  • $90: Each year ending in 2 or 7
  • $60: Each year ending in 3 or 8
  • $30: Each year ending in 4 or 9

Note: Assumed names in Illinois only last until the first day of the anniversary month in the next calendar year that can be divided by five (e.g., 2025, 2030, and 2035 etc.). After this, assumed names can be renewed for a period of five years.

Buy a Domain Name

Finally, you’ll want to focus on securing a good domain name (which is your website’s URL address) for your business. For this, try to focus on choosing one that’s easy for customers to remember, relevant to your business, and accurately reflects your brand.

After confirming the domain name you want to use is actually available, you can purchase it through a trusted registrar.

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Step 2: Pick a Registered Agent

The next step you’ll need to take toward forming your LLC is to pick a registered agent.

This is an individual or business entity that accepts legal correspondence on behalf of your business, such as service of process, notice of lawsuits, and official government communications; you’re required to continuously maintain one as long as your LLC is active.

Your registered agent can be an individual or business entity, but will need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • If an individual, must be an Illinois resident
  • If a entity, must be specifically authorized to act as a registered agent within Illinois
  • Must have a street address in Illinois (P.O. box numbers are insufficient). This address must be the same as the registered agent’s business office address

You can even act as your own registered agent if you’re looking to save money — though we don’t typically recommend this as you’re much more likely to suffer fines and penalties due to non-compliance than if you just hire a professional service.

On top of this, you’ll lose any anonymity your LLC would have given you since your name, address, and contact information will be publicly available.

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Note: To have a look at some of our other top recommendations, you can also check out our Best Registered Agent Service of 2024 guide.

Step 3: Submit Your Articles of Organization

In Illinois, the Articles of Organization is the filing document that you’ll need to submit with the Secretary of State in order to officially register your LLC (this is also referred to as the Certificate of Formation in other states).

In order to file your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State, you’ll be required to pay a filing fee of $150 — this fee remains the same whether you’re filing for a domestic LLC or a foreign LLC.

To complete your Articles of Organization, we recommend ensuring you have the following information available on-hand:

  • The legal name your LLC will be registered under
  • Your LLC’s principal place of business address
  • The date your LLC’s formation will become effective
  • The name and address of your LLC’s registered agent
  • The purpose your LLC was formed for
  • The names and addresses of your LLC’s managers/members and organizers

In the sections below, we’ve broken down the two primary ways in which you can submit the Articles of Organization for your Illinois LLC.

Online Filings

We typically recommend filing online through the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State website as the process is extremely quick, convenient, and hassle-free.

Mail Filings

If you’d prefer, you’re also able to submit a physical application using Form LLC-5.5 by printing and filling it out before submitting it (alongside a check/money order for the $150 filing fee) to the following address:

Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Note: If you submit your Articles of Organization by mail, you’ll be required to submit two copies (the original signed document and a copy of it).

Step 4: Create an Illinois LLC Operating Agreement

Once this is completed, the next step you’ll need to take is to create an operating agreement. 

This is an internal document that clearly outlines the ownership and management structure of your company in order to reduce potential future conflict.

While this document isn’t legally mandated in Illinois, all LLCs are recommended to have one as it can help maintain both: smooth operations and your LLC’s corporate veil.

A number of companies provide drafting services for operating agreements online, typically for a fee of around a few hundred dollars. However, it’s quite easy to sort this out by yourself if you want to save money, and you can even find a number of free templates online to help with this.

Step 5: Get an EIN

Even though it’s not a legal requirement (unless your LLC has employees or multiple members), all Illinois LLCs should apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).

This is a free, nine-digit number used by the IRS to identify your business and keep track of its tax reporting — much like a Social Security Number (SSN) for individuals.

You’ll need an EIN to be able to:

  • Hire employees
  • Open a business bank account
  • Apply for some business licenses/permits
  • Establish a line of credit

On top of this, using an EIN instead of a Social Security Number (SSN) helps to protect your personal information and safeguard your anonymity as the business owner of your LLC.

You can quickly apply for an EIN for your LLC online through the IRS website. You’re also able to submit a paper application using Form SS-4 either via fax to (855) 641-6935, or by mailing it to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Note: Don’t worry if you don’t already have an SSN, it’s not necessary to have one in order to apply for an EIN — instead, you can just leave Section 7b of the application blank and call the IRS on (267) 941-1099.

Step 6: File a BOI Report

Starting January 2024, the vast majority of LLC owners will be required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

This is part of an initiative by the U.S. government to stop individuals and entities engaging in illegal or unethical activities from being able to conceal this using “opaque ownership structures”, like shell companies, to hide their true identities.

Existing LLCs will be able to file this report anytime between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will have up to 90 days after the date they were initially formed to do so (30 days for LLCs formed after the start of 2025).

Keep in mind that failure to file your LLC’s BOI report on time can result in exorbitantly high fines (i.e., $591 per day) or even jail time (up to two years).

Note: Not every LLC owner is required to file a BOI report. For example, companies with more than 20 full-time employees, accounting firms, and banks are exempt. For a full list of filing exemptions, you can have a look at FinCEN’s website.

How to Maintain Your Illinois LLC

In order to keep operating legally in the state of Illinois, you’ll need to file an annual report with the Secretary of State each year.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to complete this step, as we’ve detailed all the information you’ll need to know in the section below.

File an Annual Report

In order to keep your Illinois LLC operating legally, you’ll be required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State’s Department of Business Services and pay an Illinois annual report fee of $75.

This document — which maintains the state’s records up-to-date regarding your LLC’s key information and contact details — is due before the first day of the month that marks the anniversary of your business’s formation each year.

For example, if your LLC was first formed on October 23, it would need to file its annual report before October 1st annually starting from the following year.

You can either submit this annual report online through the The Office of the Illinois Secretary of State website or by filing Form LLC-50.1 by mail to the following address:

Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Note: Increasingly harsh penalties are imposed for failure to file this annual report by the deadline. This starts with a late fee of $100 for filings made up to 60 days late but can increase to administrative dissolution if you do not file it within 60 to 120 days after the due date.

Illinois vs Other States

In terms of business formation, Illinois is a highly popular option — with more than 94,000 new business applications being made within this state in 2023 alone.

This isn’t without good reason. While its formation and ongoing costs are relatively standard when compared to competitors such as Texas and Delaware, Illinois boasts the 5th highest GDP in the US and is one of the lowest cost states in which to run a business.

On top of this, Illinois-based businesses are able to take advantage of the state’s sophisticated infrastructure — including three international airports, seven Class I freight railroads, and one of the biggest interstate highway systems in the country.

This is perfectly complimented by the state’s central location, which makes it easy to ship goods and reach a larger customer base as Illinois is around a four-hour flight from pretty much anywhere in North America.

Regardless, keep in mind that the best state to form your LLC is almost always the state that you will be operating in; this is because otherwise you’ll likely be required to register as a foreign LLC in your home state, meaning that you’ll need to pay registration and maintenance fees twice.

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Illinois Secretary of State Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
Illinois Secretary of State
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Contact Information:

Email: Business Services Contact Form
Phone: (217) 782-6961 (ext 7736 for LLCs)

How to Start an LLC in Illinois FAQ

How much does it cost for an LLC in Illinois?

In order to get an LLC up and running in Illinois you’ll typically need to pay at least $150 to file your Articles of Organization. However, there are many other additional costs you may also face (e.g., obtaining a sales tax license or using a professional registered agent service).

To find out how much you may be required to pay, check out our Illinois LLC Cost guide.

What is needed to start an LLC in Illinois?

If you want to start an LLC in Illinois, you’ll need to settle upon an acceptable and available name for your business, appoint a registered agent, and submit your Illinois LLC Articles of Organization.

We explain each of the steps in this process in more detail in our How to Start an LLC in Illinois guide.

What are the benefits of an LLC in Illinois?

On top of the inherent benefits of creating an LLC (including limited liability protection, flexibility, and avoiding double taxation), limited liability companies in Illinois can take advantage of the state’s business-friendly environment and renowned General Corporation Law.

If you’re keen to get started, have a look at our guide on How to Start an LLC.

What are the rules for LLC names in Illinois?

In order to be accepted, your proposed LLC name must meet a number of naming requirements under Illinois law.

Some of the most important rules include making your name distinguishable from all currently registered or reserved names of Illinois business entities and the requirement to contain the business identifier “Limited Liability Company” (or an abbreviation).

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