Start an LLC in Illinois
Use our free business tools below to complete your Illinois LLC Articles of Organization. This is the document you file directly with the Illinois Department of Business Services to form your LLC.
If you want more, hire us to form your LLC in Illinois. We’ll get your business stood up in minutes with a free domain, website, email, business phone, and more.
How to Start an LLC in Illinois
Forming an LLC in Illinois only takes a few steps. You’ll need to file Articles of Organization, including paying a $150 filing fee, with the Illinois Department of Business Services, Limited Liability Division. On top of filing your formation documents, you’ll need to pick a name, consider trademarking your business assets, and more. We’ve compiled all six steps of starting an LLC in Illinois into a quick-to-read guide.
1. Name Your Illinois LLC
You can’t start an LLC without a name. So the first step in getting your Illinois business off the ground is choosing a name that represents your company.
Illinois LLC naming requirements
When choosing a name for your Illinois LLC, you’ll need to follow the guidelines in §805 ILCS 180/1-10:
- Include the words “limited liability company” or an abbreviation, such as “LLC.”
- Not include words or abbreviations that are reserved for other entity types, such as “corporation,” “limited partnership,” or “inc.”
- Not include the words “trust,” “trustee,” or “fiduciary,” unless the business is an authorized corporate fiduciary.
Your business name also needs to be different from any other active business name in Illinois. You can do a quick search to see if your proposed business name is available by using the Illinois Business Entity Search.
Reserving a business name in Illinois
Illinois allows you to reserve a business name for up to 90 days. To reserve your business name, you’ll need to submit an Application for Reservation of Name to the Illinois Department of Business Services and pay a $25 filing fee. Need to renew that reserved name? You can do so by filing the same form and paying the fee again.
Getting a DBA “Doing Business As” name
Your LLC’s official name is the one written on your Articles of Organization. Any other name your LLC does business under is an assumed business name (sometimes called a fictitious business name or DBA). Assumed business names need to be registered with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.
Considering using an assumed business name? Learn How to Get an Illinois DBA.
Reserving a domain name
If you want to reach a broad customer base, you should consider starting a website to promote business. Reserving a domain name before you file your Articles of Organization will help protect and secure your preferred website address before your business goes public. Northwest offers a free domain for a year when you hire us to form your LLC.
Trademarking your Illinois LLC name
While all registered business names in Illinois must be distinct, that does not mean that your LLC name is protected from general use. For example, sole proprietors who don’t file formation documents with the state can use your business name as a DBA. To have a stronger legal claim to your name, you can trademark your LLC name for $10 by filing the State of Illinois Trademark or Service Mark Application. You can also go a step further and trademark your business name nationwide with a federal trademark.
2. Appoint an Illinois Registered Agent
A registered agent is a person or business who accepts legal mail (called service of process) on behalf of your business. All Illinois LLCs are required to maintain a registered agent. You’ll have to include your registered agent’s name and address on your Articles of Organization.
Illinois registered agent requirements
- Have a physical address (not a P.O. box) in the state of Illinois.
- Hold regular business hours.
- Accept legal mail on your business’s behalf and deliver it to you promptly.
If you want to dig into the details, all the rules for registered agents within the state are outlined in §805 ILCS 180/1-35.
Using a registered agent service
You can absolutely be your own registered agent in Illinois. In fact, any organizer, manager, member, or employee of your Illinois LLC can be a registered agent for your business. But here’s some things you need to keep in mind:
1. Privacy. Your registered agent will have their address listed on the public record and be easy for anyone to access online.
2. Availability. Service of process mailings are no joke. They require proper handling by someone who is available during regular business hours to accept and notify you of important documents.
3. Appearance. It’s never fun being served a lawsuit. It’s even less fun and even damaging to your business reputation if you’re served in front of customers and business associates.
Hiring a service like Northwest Registered Agent to handle your service of process mailings ensures your address is kept off the public record and you’re notified instantly when we receive time-sensitive documents on your behalf.
3. File Illinois Articles of Organization
To officially form your LLC, you’ll need to submit two identical Illinois LLC Articles of Organization forms to the Illinois Secretary of State. Illinois allows you the option of submitting your Articles online through the Illinois Secretary of State website or by submitting paper form LLC-5.5 by mail or in person. You’ll need to pay a $150 filing fee. Standard processing time is around 10 business days.
Below is the information you’ll need to file your Articles:
- Limited liability company name that includes the words or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC.”
- Principal place of business (Doesn’t have to be an Illinois address)
- Effective date of Articles if different than when filed
- Registered agent and registered office in Illinois
- Limited Liability Company purpose or business objectives
- Duration of the Limited Liability Company (if you have a planned end date)
- Optional provisions, like your internal policies
- Names and business addresses of all managers and members with the power of managers
- Signature(s) of organizer(s)
Note: All information on this form will go on the public record.
You can submit your Articles of Organization online, by mail, or in person.
By mail or in person:
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756
Member-managed vs. manager-managed LLC
All LLCs formed in Illinois are by default member-managed unless otherwise outlined in your LLC’s operating agreement. A member-managed LLC is an LLC where all members take part in overseeing business operations. A manger-managed LLC is one where the members of the LLC hire outside managers to run the business. Unsure which structure is best for your Illinois LLC? Check out our LLC Member Vs Manager page.
Illinois Series LLC
Illinois is one of over a dozen states that allows business owners to form something called a series LLC. A series LLC allows you to create an LLC that houses other LLCs within it. These are called series. The businesses within the main LLC each have their own liability protection, business purposes, and assets, making them their own entities.
Series LLCs allow business owners to protect all their separate businesses while grouping them together. These business structures are popular for property rental companies. You can form a series LLC in Illinois by submitting your Articles of Organization and paying the $400 filing fee.
Expedited processing options
Illinois processes LLC Articles of Organization in around 10 business days when processed by mail, online, or in-person. There is a 24-hour expedited option that costs an extra $250.
Start Your Illinois LLC Today!Get Started
4. Write an Illinois LLC Operating Agreement
Per §805 ILCS 180/1-30, an LLC may write an Illinois operating agreement but it is not required. Despite this, you should consider an operating agreement a must. If you don’t have an operating agreement, your business will be governed by Illinois’s default LLC statutes. Your operating agreement should plan for every major situation that your LLC is likely to deal with.
Here are some common topics operating agreements cover:
- initial investments
- profits, losses, and distributions
- voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
- transfer of membership interest
You’re free to include almost any rule in your operating agreement as long as it doesn’t contradict the Articles of Organization or Illinois law. Operating agreements are internal documents, so you don’t need to file yours with the Secretary of State.
5. Get an EIN
Your business’s EIN (employer identification number) is the number the IRS will use to identify your business on tax forms. Basically, it’s a social security number for your business. The IRS lets you apply for an EIN for free online and by mail. Or you can skip the paperwork and hire Northwest to file for you.
Learn How to get an EIN for your LLC.
6. File the BOI Report
Most Illinois LLCs need to complete an additional filing at the federal level. This is a new requirement called the Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report. The BOI Report requires you to disclose identifying information about your company applicant and all beneficial owners to the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN). You can file online or hire us to do it for you ($9).
7. Next Steps
To maintain and grow your business, you’ll need to keep up with permits, licenses, and more to stay compliant. Here’s what you need to know.
Opening a bank account
The next step is to open a business bank account. This step is essential for LLCs, since your limited liability depends on keeping business and personal finances separate.
When you go to the bank to open an account for your Illinois LLC, be sure to bring:
- Illinois LLC Articles of Organization (a copy is fine)
- the LLC’s operating agreement
- the LLC’s EIN
- an LLC Resolution to Open a Bank Account (if your LLC has more than one member)
Use our free LLC Resolution to Open a Bank Account.
Illinois licenses and permits
In Illinois, all businesses need to get a Certificate of Registration or License, which acts as a tax permit, allowing the business to collect sales tax. To get your Illinois tax permit, you’ll need to file form Reg-1 with the Central Registration Division Illinois Department of Revenue either online through the MyTaxIllinois web portal or by mail. There is no filing fee. You may also need to get a professional license, zoning permit, or another type of state or local permit based on your business industry and location.
Illinois Annual Report
Your Illinois annual report is due before the first day of your business’s anniversary month. So if your LLC was formed on April 7th, your annual report is due by March 31st the following year. If your report is more than 60 days late, you will have to pay a $100 late fee.
Illinois tax requirements
On top of getting your Certificate of Registration or License to collect the 6.25% Illinois sales tax, your LLC will also need to pay the individual income tax rate of 4.95%. Now, since all LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities, the business’s profits and losses get passed through to the members for them to pay on their own tax returns. You’ll also want to check your municipality’s potential local sales tax rate. LLCs with employees need to pay workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance taxes.
Check out our Illinois LLC Taxes guide to learn more.
8. Illinois LLC FAQs
How much does it cost to start an LLC in Illinois?
The cost to start an LLC in Illinois is $150 to file your Articles of Organization with the state. You will also need to file an annual report each year and pay a $75 filing fee. You may have other start-up costs, such as a fee for a professional license or zoning permit.
Does Illinois require an LLC to have an operating agreement?
Not technically. In Illinois, you do not have to have an operating agreement. However, without one your LLC will be governed by the state’s default LLC statutes. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to draft your LLC operating agreement and take control of how your business is operated and run.
When is the Illinois Annual Report due?
Your Illinois Annual Report is due before the first day of your anniversary month. For example, if you formed your LLC in January 2024, your annual report is due before January 2025. You can use the Illinois Business Database to check your anniversary date.
How are Illinois LLCs taxed?
The default tax classification for LLCs is pass-through taxation. This means that the LLC itself doesn’t pay taxes. Instead, the LLC’s profits “pass through” the business to the owners, who then report the profits as income on their individual tax returns. The profits for Illinois LLCs are taxed at the federal self-employment tax rate (15.3%). LLCs can also submit a form to the IRS to be taxed as an S-Corp or a C-Corp.
Learn more about S-Corp Vs LLC tax designation.
Do I need a business license for an LLC in Illinois?
There is no state general business license, but some counties do require businesses to get local licenses. You will need to check with your local county clerk’s office to determine if you’ll need a license.
However, you will need the Certificate of Registration or License, which is a tax permit.
*This is informational commentary, not advice. This information is intended strictly for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. This information is not intended to create, nor does your receipt, viewing, or use of it constitute, an attorney-client relationship. More information is available in our Terms of Service.