How to Start an LLC in Illinois?

Learn How to Start an LLC in IL

Each year, thousands of small businesses begin life as LLCs in the state of Illinois.
If you've been thinking about how to start an LLC in Illinois yourself, but aren't sure of how to navigate the process, you've come to the right place.

Below we are going to run through (almost) everything you need to know about getting your new limited liability company up and running.

We cover the important steps, including:

  • Picking a name for your Illinois LLC
  • Designating a registered agent
  • Filing and establishing articles of organization
  • Outlining a new operating agreement
  • Securing a federal EIN
Shall we get started?

Pick a Name for Your Illinois LLC

Every LLC in Illinois is going to be created through the office of the Illinois Secretary of State..

In Illinois, the law says that no LLC is able to begin business operations until that entity has registered with the Secretary of State and paid all associated fees.

Thankfully this process is simple, straightforward, and affordable – but it all begins with picking and eligible name for your Illinois operation!

LLC Naming Requirements

According to Illinois state law, the name of a new LLC must be completely different from any of the other names of corporations and LLCs that are registered with the Secretary of State.

This is done to avoid confusion when it comes to the consumer, but it's also done to avoid any confusion should LLCs find themselves locked up in legal battles, too.

The last thing any entrepreneur running a store called “Mr. Bagel” wants to worry about is being served paperwork because of what “Mister Bagel” did to their customers!

The Secretary of State maintains a database of all registered business names. It can be found by visiting the Illinois Business Search tool online.

Individuals that want to register a new business in Illinois can also send names they are considering directly to the Secretary of State office (usually via email). The Secretary of State staff will be able to check the validity of those names and confirm – or deny – that new businesses can use them.

If a potential name is found to be valid businesses can reserve that name for up to 90 days. A $25 fee basically “locks” that name up until the rest of the LLC process can on full. This step is optional, though.

Designate Your Registered Agent

The next piece of the puzzle that needs to unfold when learning how to start an LLC in Illinois is to designate a registered agent.

State law mandates that every single registered LLC has a registered agent. These agents are legally required to accept all legal documents on the behalf of a registered LLC – including paperwork pertaining to lawsuits.

Government organizations, offices, and representatives can send official correspondence through this registered agent, too.

All registered agents in Illinois must be at least 18 years old or older and a resident of Illinois. Companies that are formed and physically existing within Illinois can use themselves as a registered agent, too.

It's possible to change the registered agent with the Secretary of State in the future. All LLC owners have to do is file Form LLC 1.36/1.37, provide new information about their updated registered agent, and they are good to go!

Those that want to register LLCs within the state of Illinois but are not going to have a physical presence there can use registered agent services. There are several legal services that offer this. They should be contacted directly for more information.

File and Establish Articles of Organization

Articles of Organization are hugely important in the state of Illinois and are required by the Secretary of State.

These articles can be filed online (the fastest approach) or they can be physically filled out (Form LLC 5.5) and mailed into the Secretary of State office. The filing fee either way is $150.

Articles of Organization must include important details about the new LLC being formed, including:

  • The registered name of the Illinois business
  • The principal place of business in Illinois for the LLC
  • The effective start date of the LLC itself
  • Name and contact information for the registered agent of an LLC
  • The purpose for the LLC to be created
  • Any dissolution date information (when applicable)
  • Provisions for LLC regulations (when applicable)
  • The name and contact information for the organizer of the LLC that is actually completing the paperwork

There is about a seven-day timeline for the state of Illinois to receive these Articles of Organization and actually process them.

Breakdown and Outline Your New Operating Agreement

Operating Agreements are not legally required in the state of Illinois, but most legal professionals (and entrepreneurs) recommend them wholeheartedly.

These documents are 100% legally binding and clearly establish not just the management structure of the new business being created, but the responsibilities of each member as well.

All members of the LLC will have to be named and listed, and each and every one of them will have to provide their signature for these Operating Agreements to be considered valid.

None of this information has to be filed directly with the state of Illinois, but a copy of the agreements should be held by the LLC in the event of them being necessary in the future.

It's not a bad idea to speak to legal professionals about drawing up Operating Agreements that are 100% compliant with Illinois state law.

Secure Your Free Federal EIN

The last piece of the puzzle for learning how to start an LLC in Illinois is securing a free federal Employee Identification Number (EIN).

These numbers are assigned by the Internal Revenue Services and are specifically established to both identify businesses and to make it easier during tax time.

EINs can also be used to open up a business specific bank account, to hire employees, and even to better manage federal and state taxes prior to the filing process.

You don't necessarily have to have an EIN to conduct business as an LLC in Illinois. But if you're going to have more than one person in the LLC, or any employees whatsoever, you'll want to get this taken care of ASAP.