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Start a Business in Illinois

Starting a business in Illinois is easy. All you need to do is file a few forms with the Illinois Secretary of State and start running your business. Below, we show you how to get started and walk you through some of your options.

One option is, of course, to stop reading and just hire us to start your business for you. At Northwest, we form businesses and provide registered agent service throughout the US. That’s our business, and obviously we recommend starting your business in a certain way. We call it “Starting a Business the Right Way."

Starting your business the right way means hiring a registered agent to form your LLC or corporation so you can protect your privacy and receive the care your business needs to stay active. If you hire us to start your Illinois business, we’ll be your registered agent, provide Privacy by Default®, a business address, mail forwarding and local Corporate Guide® service for life.

All You Need

Hire us to start your Illinois LLC or corporation and get all the tools you need to start fast:

  • IL registered agent service

  • Illinois business forms

  • Online client account

  • Easy access to all our business services & answers to your business questions

Start Your Business the Right Way

As your registered agent, when we start your business, we give you what other filing services can’t:

  • Privacy by Default®
  • Business address
  • Free mail forwarding
  • Lifetime support from local Corporate Guides®

Start Your Illinois Business

$225 + State Fees
Rated 4.6 / 5 stars by 427 clients on Google

How to Start a Business in Illinois


You file articles of incorporation for an Illinois corporation or articles of organization for an Illinois LLC with the IL Secretary of State.

Federal Tax ID

You obtain a federal tax ID number (FEIN or EIN) with the IRS after you have confirmation and filed articles from the State of Illinois showing your approved Illinois business.

Bank Account

Opening a business banking account under your new Illinois business name should be easy with these two items.

Department of Revenue

You register your Illinois LLC with the Illinois Department of Revenue or Illinois Department of Labor if you’re going to have employees or need to withhold sales tax.

Trade License

You obtain a trade license from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, if you actually need one. Most businesses don’t, but if you do, these quick links and contact details are in your online account.

Local License

Some local cities or counties have a general license, but most don’t.
You obtain a local trade license if the city or county you’re going to be working in requires it.


If you’re going to have an office or shop you might need an approval from the city zoning for your type of business in that location.

Get Going

If you get overwhelmed, just get your business pulling in money and worry about regulations later.

Are You A Do-It-Yourselfer?
You Can Save Some Money:

If you want to start a business in Illinois yourself, you can just hire us as your Illinois registered agent, and you’ll instantly have the Illinois LLC or corporation forms to file along with filing instructions on the quickest, cheapest, and most efficient way to incorporate an Illinois corporation or form a Illinois LLC. You’ll get the ongoing support of our online tools, reminders and the support of a professional Illinois registered agent service.


Illinois LLC vs Corporation

Owners of large, growing businesses like the well-defined, established management structure of a corporation. Plus, having the option to sell stock helps attract investors. LLCs are ideal for small businesses. They offer flexible management and are easier to maintain.

But, what about Illinois? Any pros and cons for an Illinois LLC vs an Illinois corporation?

When it comes to initial fees, there is no real advantage to starting an Illinois LLC versus an Illinois corporation. Both entities will cost $150 to form and must pay a $75 filing fee for their annual report. However, all corporations must also include a franchise tax—LLCs do not.

The Illinois franchise tax is based on paid-in-capital or an “allocation factor”—depending on what calculation method you choose. Fortunately, the state recently began the process of phasing this tax out, but until 2024, corporations will still be responsible for paying the franchise tax. The rates for corporate and personal taxes are fixed, but the personal income tax rate is much lower—4.95% vs 7%, so LLCs tend to fare better unless they opt to be taxed as C corps. C corps, the default tax classification of corporations are subject to double taxation—first by the state, then through shareholder returns.

If owning a large, growing business is your end goal, then you’ll definitely want to consider the corporation. There will be more taxes involved, but having the option to sell stock will attract strong investors. If you’re wanting a small business, then the flexible management of an LLC may suit your needs.

If you want a corporation, you file Illinois Articles of Incorporation:

It will cost $150 to file the articles of incorporation with the IL Secretary of State, plus a $25 minimum franchise tax fee.
We custom draft your Illinois articles of incorporation when you hire Northwest to start your Illinois business. The basic requirements of Illinois corporations are:

  • The Illinois Corporation must have a corporate ending such as Incorporated, Corporation, Limited, or an abbreviation of one of those
  • The Illinois corporation name must be different than already registered Illinois corporations
  • The number of shares the Illinois Corporation is authorized to issue and the class of the shares
  • The name and office address of the registered agent in Illinois
  • The corporations purpose is general unless you state a more specific purpose
  • Information about the corporations directors is optional
  • Information about the corporations property in Illinois is optional
  • You may include other optional provisions
  • The name, address, and signature of the Illinois corporation incorporator

Illinois does not require original signatures on new Illinois corporation filings. If you include a return address on a cover letter or envelope, that is where the IL SOS will send your filed document. Otherwise they will send it to your Illinois registered agent.

Start Your Illinois Business!

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If you want a LLC, you file Illinois Articles of Organization:

To form an Illinois LLC, file articles of organization. The Illinois Secretary of State articles of organization filing fee is $150. The basic requirements of Illinois LLC filings are:

  • The business name must have a LLC ending or variation of it
  • The Illinois company name must be different than already registered Illinois companies
  • The effective date of the articles of organization may be when the articles are filed or you may specify a later date
  • The Illinois LLCs principal address
  • The LLC may have a general purpose unless you are forming a Professional LLC
  • The LLCs duration is perpetual unless you specify a dissolution date
  • If the Illinois LLC is member-managed, you must list the members. If the LLC is manager-managed, you must list the managers
  • The street and mailing addresses of the initial registered office
  • The Illinois registered agent name and the physical address
  • The Illinois organizers name, address, and signature

Illinois does not require original signatures on new IL LLC filings. If you include a return address on a cover letter or envelope, that is where the IL SOS will send your filed document. Otherwise they will send it to your Illinois registered agent.

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