To start an LLC in Illinois, you must file Articles of Organization with the Department of Business Services, Limited Liability Division. You can file the document online or by mail. The Articles of Organization cost $150 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business in Illinois, you must complete several additional steps.
Whether you want to try filing by yourself or prefer to use our expert services, Northwest can help you start your Illinois LLC with confidence.
Everything You Need to Know About Illinois LLCs:
Illinois LLC Formation Options
Do It Yourself
Sign up for a free account and use our online tools to start your Illinois LLC today. Includes Illinois LLC formation and maintenance walkthrough and company document creation. All for free—just pay state fees.
Skip the state fees! Get an Illinois LLC and the best of our services today. Includes EIN, hassle-free maintenance, business address & mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, local Corporate Guide® service, and everything you need to operate at full capacity.
Pay in Full
Includes Illinois LLC, business address & free mail forwarding, free 60-day Phone Service trial, Privacy by Default®, lifetime support from local Corporate Guides® and a year of registered agent service.
How to Start an LLC in Illinois
To start an LLC in Illinois, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Organization with the Department of Business Services, Limited Liability Division. You can file the document online or by mail. The articles cost $150 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Illinois LLC.
According to § 805 ILCS 180/1-35(a), every Illinois LLC must appoint a registered agent. You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.
If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your LLC. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit Illinois Secretary of State Business Search and search until you find the perfect name for your LLC.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your LLC name is, you’re ready to file your Illinois Articles of Organization. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the Illinois LLC Articles of Organization
Learn more about each Articles of Organization requirement below. Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.
Or skip the form entirely and hire us to form your Illinois LLC. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private. And for the cheapest way to start a business? Pay just $42 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
1. Company Name
You have to include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” You can’t include words that would make people think you’re a different business entity like “corporation.”
2. Principal Office
This must be a street address in Illinois (no PO Boxes). When you hire Northwest, you can avoid listing a home or personal address and use our Illinois address as your principal address.
3. Effective Date
Most businesses begin their existence as soon as their articles are approved. If you want to push off your start date a bit (maybe if the next tax year is just around the corner), you can list a date up to 60 days in the future.
4. Registered Agent
Your Illinois registered agent must be available during business hours to accept legal notices for your LLC. You can list yourself, someone else, or a service like Northwest. Naturally, we recommend Northwest.
5. Registered Office
This is the street address in Illinois where your registered agent needs to be available. When you hire us, this publicly-listed address will be ours instead of yours.
You can enter a specific purpose for your LLC here, but note that the articles already include a general purpose. A specific purpose isn’t usually required. Exceptions include professional LLCs (think doctors & lawyers), which must list their services, and low-profit LLCs, which have a purpose besides income production.
If you don’t want a specific end date for your LLC, skip this section. Otherwise, write the date you want your business to end.
8. Optional Provisions
Typically, provisions for regulating the internal affairs of your company—such as policies for distributions or membership transfer—are made in your operating agreement. However, it’s possible to include provisions in your articles. Note that your operating agreement is much easier to update if needed.
9. LLC Management
Include the name and business address of the members (or managers if your LLC is manager-managed). Note that you don’t need a personal address, only a business address (which can be our address when you hire us).
10. Illinois LLC Organizer
Your organizer is just the person who completes and submits your articles. Organizers are required to put their name, address and signature. This doesn’t have to be anyone within your LLC—when you hire Northwest, we’ll put our information in this section, helping you keep your personal info private.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your Illinois LLC?
Professionals in Illinois hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent to start an LLC—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. We own our own building in Springfield, IL. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in the Department of Business Services. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our Springfield registered office address on your LLC’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Chicago, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding, Business Address and More
At Northwest, we do everything a registered agent should do and more. You can list our address as your business address on your state filings. We include limited digital mail forwarding with registered agent service (up to 5 pieces of regular mail per year; $15 a doc after that).
Plan on accepting credit cards? We also offer a Free Credit Card Processing Consultation. Our specialists work with processors to negotiate low rates and better contracts for our clients.
And now, try our in-house Northwest Phone Service for 60 days, free of charge with our formation service. Get a virtual phone number with your choice of area code, make and receive calls from any device, and more—for just $9 a month.
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your LLC in Illinois. Our Corporate Guides are dedicated solely to helping you with your business—not selling you services or meeting quotas.
What Do I Do After My Illinois LLC Is Formed?
After your Illinois Articles of Organization are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, opening a bank account, funding the LLC and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
An EIN (“Employer Identification Number”) is a federal tax ID assigned to your business by the IRS. The IRS uses your EIN to easily identify your business on tax filings.
Does an Illinois LLC need an EIN?
Yes—you’ll need an EIN to file your Personal Property Replacement Tax with the Illinois Department of Revenue. You’ll also need an EIN if you have employees, and you’ll likely use your EIN when you open a business bank account.
How do I get an EIN for my LLC?
You can apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost. Most businesses are able to apply online, but if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to apply with a paper form. Want one less thing to do? Add on EIN service when you hire us, and we’ll get your EIN for you. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
Write an LLC Operating Agreement
Operating agreements put into writing how your business actually operates—how much each member invested, how profits and losses will be allocated, how voting works, and what happens if there’s a dispute or if the whole business (knock on wood) falls apart.
Do I need an operating agreement for an Illinois LLC?
Illinois doesn’t legally require an operating agreement. According to state statute § 805 ILCS 180/15-5, members MAY enter into an operating agreement—but the law doesn’t declare that they must.
That said, an operating agreement isn’t just annoying paperwork. It’s one of your LLC’s most important internal documents, and creating one can help your LLC with everything from opening a bank account to handling major events from mergers to dissolution.
What should be in an operating agreement?
An operating agreement should explain how the business will handle “big picture” situations—everything from allocating profits and losses to dissolving the business. Below is a list of common topics that operating agreements should cover.
Profits, losses, and distributions
Voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
Transfer of membership interest
Dissolving the business
Your operating agreement can cover pretty much anything as long as it isn’t contrary to Illinois law. Topics not allowed to be changed in the operating agreement are listed in the Illinois statute § 805 ILCS 180/15-5, which forbids actions such as restricting access to records and eliminating obligations of good faith.
How do I write an operating agreement?
To write an operating agreement, you need to address how your business will handle money, members, votes, management, and more. Not sure how to get started? At Northwest, we’re here to help your LLC get off on the right foot. When you hire us, we provide your business with a free LLC operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ve spent years developing these agreements and other free LLC forms—which have been used by over a million LLCs.
Open an LLC Bank Account
Your LLC needs its own bank account. Why? An LLC gets its limited liability from being a distinct entity, separate from its members. If you mix personal and business finances, you could lose your liability protections.
How do I open a bank account for my Illinois LLC?
To open a bank account for your Illinois LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
A copy of the Illinois LLC Articles of Organization
The LLC operating agreement
The LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
Fund the LLC
Time to put some money in that new LLC bank account. What money? For starters, your initial contributions to your LLC’s capital. LLC members are owners, and each owner needs to pay for their membership interest to fund the LLC.
What is membership interest?
Membership interest is your percentage of ownership of the LLC. Membership interest is normally proportionate to your investment. So how does this work?
Imagine your LLC has 5 members. 4 members each invest $1,000 in the business. One member invests $6,000. The total contribution of all members is $10,000. The 4 members each own 10% of the business. The moneybags member who shelled out $6,000 owns 60% of the business.
Typically, this also means that the 4 members would each get 10% of any profits, and moneybags would get 60%. Exactly how profits and losses are allocated, however, can be adjusted in the operating agreement as long as changes are in line with IRS requirements and Illinois laws.
File Illinois Reports & Taxes
Illinois LLCs are required to file a state report each year. This report is basically an information update you file so the state knows who currently runs things and how to contact your business. Illinois LLCs are also subject to state tax filing requirements.
How much is the Illinois Annual Report fee?
The fee for the Illinois LLC Annual Report is $75. The real killer, however, is the late fee. If your report is more than 60 days late, you’re stuck with a $100 penalty—per year. Fail to file for a few years, and the fees will keep racking up. Yikes.
When is the Illinois Annual Report due?
Your Illinois Annual Report is due before the first day of your anniversary month. So, say you formed your business on April 17th. You’ll need to file your report by March 31st each year.
When you sign up for Northwest, we send you reminders for your annual report due dates. Want one less thing to worry about? With our business renewal service, we can complete and submit your annual report for you for $100 plus the state fee.
What should I know about Illinois LLC taxes?
The Illinois personal net income tax rate is a flat 4.95%. The state also has a 6.25% sales tax—although cities and counties can stack on local sales taxes as well. The maximum total sales tax tops out at 11% (which you can find in River Grove), but the average total sales tax is 7.758%.
Most LLCs are taxed as either partnerships or S corporations, so you shouldn’t have to worry about corporate net income taxes, right? Well, not exactly. While you won’t pay the actual corporate net income tax, Illinois has still found a way to tax your income at the entity level with its Personal Property Replacement Tax. Businesses taxed as partnerships or S corporations pay a 1.5% tax on net income. (At least it’s better than the C corporation PPRT rate of 2.5%.)
Property taxes are also worth a note—Illinois has the second-highest property tax in the country, averaging a painful 2.31%. This doesn’t necessarily mean business owners should swear off property in Illinois though. For example, the high taxes have driven many to rent instead of buy, so there’s a strong apartment rental market. If you do decide to invest in Illinois property, your attorney will likely advise creating an LLC to protect your personal assets. At Northwest, we can form your Illinois LLC for as low as $379. Or, pay just $42 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
Do LLCs have to register with the Illinois Department Of Revenue?
Yes. Illinois is pretty heavily invested in making sure businesses meet all of their tax obligations. If you conduct business in Illinois, you must register with the Illinois Department of Revenue. You can register online with MyTax Illinois or by filing an Illinois Business Registration Application by mailing it in.
Illinois LLC FAQs
How can I submit the Illinois LLC Articles of Organization?
You can file Illinois articles online or by mail. Mailed filings must be submitted in duplicate to the following address:
Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 350
Springfield, IL 62756
How much does it cost to start an Illinois LLC?
The filing fee for your Illinois LLC Articles of Organization is $150. Add $100 if you want expediting. Online filings also have a credit card processing fee based on the total amount of the transaction, adding on a few more dollars.
Hire Northwest for a one-time fee of $379 ($481 for 1-day expediting), including state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, limited mail forwarding and loads of useful forms and tools to help get your Illinois LLC up and running. Or, pay just $42 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start an Illinois LLC?
Filings average 10 days for processing. Pay an extra $100 for expediting and you can get your Articles of Organization processed in one business day.
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your expedited Illinois LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does an Illinois LLC need a business license?
While Illinois doesn’t have a state-level business license, some cities and counties require business licenses. For example, Chicago only requires licenses for specific business activities, such as manufacturing or child care. Elgin, on the other hand, requires a (free) general business license in addition to any business-specific licenses.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
Can an Illinois LLC help me live more privately?
Yes. While you can’t remove all ownership information from Illinois public filings (like you can in states like New Mexico, Delaware, and Wyoming), an Illinois LLC can still help you reduce your public footprint. For example, you can maintain a significant degree of address privacy by listing our address on public docs instead of your own. Check out our page on living privately with an LLC to learn more.
What is a foreign Illinois LLC?
A foreign Illinois LLC is any LLC formed outside of Illinois but registered to do business in the state. For example, if you formed an LLC in Indiana but wanted to conduct business in Illinois as well, you would register as a foreign LLC in Illinois by filing an Application for Admission to Transact Business with the Illinois Secretary of State. Like domestic LLCs, foreign LLCs in the state have to file annual Illinois annual reports. Northwest can register your foreign Illinois LLC for you today!
How can I get an Illinois phone number for my LLC?
It’s a conundrum: you need a local number to display on your website and give to customers, but you don’t want to make your personal number quite so…public. We get it. And we’ve got you covered with Northwest Phone Service. We can provide you with a virtual phone number in any state—plus unlimited call forwarding and tons of easy-to-use features. You can try Phone Service free for 60 days when you hire us to form your LLC, and maintaining service is just $9 monthly after that. No contract required.
How to Order LLC Formation Service
Our Illinois LLC formation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
With Northwest, we give you flexibility on how to pay. You can pay all the fees up front (this includes one full year of registered agent service). Or, pay just $42 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
We’ll prepare your Illinois Articles of Organization and send them to the Secretary of State, Department of Business Services, Limited Liability Division for approval. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the Illinois Department of Business Services, Limited Liability Division has approved your filing, we notify you that your Illinois LLC has been legally formed. You can now take any necessary next steps, like getting an EIN and opening a bank account.