Last updated April 27, 2021

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How to Form an LLC in Illinois

Quick Start Guide ← you are here
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Illinois.

Detailed Lessons:

 

Illinois LLC Costs:
Illinois LLC filing fee: $150
Illinois LLC annual report: $75

Need to save time?
Hire a professional to form your LLC in Illinois:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

★ Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom


Note: Illinois LLC fees have been reduced. If you see higher state fees on another website, that information is outdated. For details on the new fees, please see: Illinois LLC filing fees reduced

Here is a quick overview on starting an LLC in Illinois

How to Form an LLC in IllinoisAn Illinois LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a legal entity/business structure created in order to protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. If your business is sued, your personal assets (such as your bank accounts, homes, and vehicles) are protected.

An Illinois LLC can be formed to run and operate a business, or an LLC can be used to purchase assets, such as real estate, aircraft, boats, and vehicles.

To form your own Illinois LLC, you can either follow the steps in our Quick Start Guide below, or you can go through the detailed lessons above.

Need to save time? Hire a professional to form your Illinois LLC:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

1. Illinois LLC Name

• The first step to forming your own Illinois LLC is making sure your desired name is available and unique.

• Under Illinois law (805 ILCS 180/1-10), your LLC’s name must be “distinguishable upon the record”. This means it must be unique when compared to the existing companies registered in Illinois.

Search your Illinois LLC name here: https://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/

Designator: your LLC name must end with a proper designator. Illinois law allows the following designators:

– LLC (most common)
– L.L.C.
– Limited Liability Company

2. Illinois Registered Agent

• By Illinois law (805 ILCS 180/1-35), all LLCs are required to designate a Registered Agent in their LLC filing forms, the Articles of Organization.

• A Registered Agent (either a person or company) receives documents, notices and legal mail (called Service of Process) on behalf of your LLC.

• Your Registered Agent must have a street address in Illinois (PO boxes are not allowed). Also, if the Registered Agent is a person, then he/she must be a resident of Illinois. To remain in compliance with the state, your LLC must continually maintain a Registered Agent, and the Registered Agent should be available during normal business hours

Who is qualified to be your Registered Agent in Illinois?

The following can be your LLC’s Registered Agent:

– You
– A friend or family member
– A Commercial Registered Agent

Commercial Registered Agent in Illinois: If you don’t have an address in Illinois, or prefer not to use a friend or family member’s address, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).

Northwest has been in the business for over 20 years and they have great customer support. Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded to your online account.

Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your Illinois LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their registered agent services free for the 1st year.

3. Articles of Organization

Filing methods: You can form an LLC in Illinois by mail or online. If you file by mail, you’ll fill out the Articles of Organization (Form LLC-5.5) and mail it to the Secretary of State. If you file online, you’ll be submitting the Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State electronically.

Mail filing: Download Articles of Organization (Form LLC-5.5)

Online filing: LLC Articles of Organization online

Illinois LLC filing fee: The cost to form an Illinois LLC is $150 (for both mail and online filings).

Payment methods: If filing by mail, the state doesn’t accept personal checks. You must use a money order or certified check made payable to the “Illinois Secretary of State”. If filing online, you can make payment with a debit or credit card.

Illinois LLC approval times: 10-15 business days, unless you pay $100 extra for an “expedited filing”, then your LLC will be approved in 1-2 business days.

Recommendation: We recommend the online filing as it’s easier to complete.

Mailing address:

Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S 2nd Street, Room 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Important: if filing by mail, you must send 2 copies of the Articles of Organization.

What you get back: Once the Illinois Secretary of State approves your LLC, you’ll receive back a stamped and approved copy of your Articles of Organization and a Welcome Letter. Your Welcome Letter includes your LLC’s Entity File Number, a unique identifier used by the Illinois Secretary of State.

• If you file by mail, these documents are returned by mail. If you file online, these documents are returned by email.

Need to save time? Hire a professional to form your Illinois LLC:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

4. LLC Operating Agreement

• An Operating Agreement contains the rules between the members of the LLC. This includes but is not limited to the rights and duties of each member, how profits/losses are divided, and how taxes are paid.

• The Operating Agreement is where you will list all the members (owners) of your LLC and how much of the LLC they each own. Even if you own the LLC by yourself (a “Single-member LLC”), it is highly recommended that you keep an Operating Agreement.

• The Operating Agreement does not need to be sent to the Illinois Secretary of State or to any other state agency. Just store a copy with the rest of your LLC’s business records.

• In the event you were to end up in court, having an Operating Agreement shows that you’re operating your business properly. This helps keep your personal assets safe and protected.

Free Operating Agreement for your Illinois LLC. Choose your preferred file type (they’re all the same agreement): PDF | Google Doc | Microsoft Word

5. Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

• A Federal Tax ID Number is also known as an Employer Identification Number, or EIN for short. Other names (which all mean the same thing) are FEIN, Federal Tax Number, and Federal Employer Number.

After your LLC is approved, you should then apply for an EIN from the IRS. Do not apply for your EIN until you receive approval from the Illinois Secretary of State.

• The EIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to various business. It’s used to identify your company, similar to a social security number for an individual person. It’s used to file taxes and handle payroll for employees, if applicable.

• EINs are also needed to open an LLC business checking account.

An EIN is $0: That’s correct. EINs are provided free from the IRS.

How to get an EIN: There are 3 ways to get an EIN for your LLC.
– by mail (approval takes 4 weeks)
– by fax (approval take 4 business days)
– or online application (approval is instant at the end of the application)

If applying by mail or fax: use Form SS-4. The mailing address is Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999, and the fax number is 855-641-6935.

Online application: the online EIN application is the most common (and fastest) method, but this can only be used if the “responsible party” has a social security number, and as long as the LLC is owned by individuals, and not another company (see below).

• No SSN/non-US citizens and non-US residents: You can still obtain an EIN from the IRS if you are a non-US citizen, non-US resident, or you don’t have a social security number. You just can’t get the EIN using the online application. You’ll instead need to mail or fax Form SS-4 to the IRS and where it asks for your SSN (line 7b), write “Foreign” instead.

LLC owned by another company: If your LLC is owned by another LLC (or another company), you also cannot get an EIN online. If you try, it’ll return an error message at the end. You’ll need to file Form SS-4 by fax or by mail.

6. Illinois LLC Annual Report

• Every LLC in Illinois is required to file an Annual Report every year. It is due before the first day of the LLC’s anniversary month, starting in the year after formation.

For example:
• If your Illinois LLC was formed on November 15th 2018, then your first Annual Report is due before November 1st 2019.
• If your Illinois LLC was formed on January 20th 2019, then your first Annual Report is due before January 1st 2020.

Illinois Annual Report Fee: The Annual Report fee is $75 (for both mail filings and online filings).

File Annual Report by Mail. Download Form LLC-50.1:
https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/llc501.pdf

Mailing Address:

Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S 2nd Street, Room 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Important: If you want a copy of your filed report, send 2 copies of the completed Annual Report along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope.

File Annual Report online: https://www.ilsos.gov/llcarpt/. A receipt and copy of your Annual Report will be emailed to you after submission.

Penalty if late/not filed: there is a $100 penalty if you are 60 days late. If you are more than 180 days late, the state will administratively dissolve your LLC. Note: the penalty used to be $300, but as of 1/1/2019, it was reduced to $100 by House Bill 4578.

Reminders: Reminders are mailed to your LLC’s Registered Agent about 45 days before the due date.

7. Business Licenses and/or Permits

• Your Illinois LLC may need business licenses and/or permits, depending on the location of the business and the kind of industry it is engaged in. To find out the licenses and/or permits your LLC will need, you can contact the government agency that regulates your business’s industry, as well as the city, town, or county where it is located.

Need to save time? There are over 20,000 licensing and permit jurisdictions in the United States. If you want to save time, we recommend hiring a professional service company to do the research and prepare the applications for your Illinois LLC. If you’d like a hand, you can use our partner company, IncFile.

They will provide you with a comprehensive package of all the licenses, permits and tax registrations required for your Illinois LLC, as well as the necessary application forms. Your research package and applications will be emailed to you in 2-4 business days.

8. Taxes

Federal taxes: As your Illinois LLC enjoys “pass through taxation”, all of its profits/losses will be listed on a Schedule C and filed along with your personal income tax return (Form 1040) with the IRS.

Illinois State and local taxes: You must register your LLC with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR), as well as with the local tax authorities in the town, city or county where it is located.

Recommendation: we recommend talking with a few accountants in Illinois for help as taxes can be quite complicated. Check out our how to find an accountant guide or you can use Thumbtack.

9. LLC Bank Account

Maintain your liability protection: Form a separate bank checking account for your Illinois LLC to keep your personal and business finances separate.

Items needed to open an account: Bring your approved Articles of Organization, EIN Confirmation from the IRS, and your driver’s license or passport. Banks may also require additional items, so make sure to call them ahead of time.

Benefits: Keeping a separate banking checking account will keep your personal finances from mixing or “commingling” with your business finances. It will also make accounting of your LLC’s assets a whole lot easier.

Know your choices: Call a few banks in Illinois and make comparisons. Some will charge monthly fees to maintain your LLC’s checking accounts, others won’t.

Debit card: The bank will give you a debit card when you open the account.

Credit card: You can also get a business credit card to earn points, miles, and other rewards.

10. Business Phone Number

Instead of using your home telephone number or your cell phone, you can purchase an affordable “virtual business number” specifically for your Illinois LLC. You can set this virtual business phone up to forward to your cell phone, go through voice prompts, or configure it any way you’d like.

We recommend using Phone.com as they have the cheapest plans and their customer service is excellent.

They offer local phone numbers as well as 1-800 toll-free numbers. You can easily setup call forwarding, pre-recorded prompts, and get voicemail messages forwarded to your email.

Getting a separate business phone number for your Illinois LLC is also a good idea in order to keep your actual number private from those pesky “public record” websites.

Illinois State Agencies

Illinois Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
217-782-6961 (extension 7736 for the LLC department)
217-782-6875
217-524-8008

Illinois Department of Revenue
217-782-3336
217-524-4772
Monday – Friday, 8am – 4:30pm
Additional contact info is here

Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! LLC University® teaches people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your business journey.
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