The first step to forming an LLC in Illinois is to search your desired LLC name and make sure it’s available for use.
Illinois LLC Name Requirements
Before searching your LLC name in Illinois, there are a few requirements you need to know:
- The abbreviations “LLC” or “L.L.C.” must be used at the end of your Illinois LLC name. The abbreviation “LLC” is the most common.
- Because an Illinois LLC is not a Corporation, your desired LLC name cannot use the word “Corporation”, “Incorporated,” or their abbreviations (“Corp.”, “Inc.”).
- Your desired LLC name must be distinguishable. This means it must be different and unique from all other businesses registered in Illinois.
Differences in designators (the identifiers at the end of a business name) and differences in grammar do not create distinguishability.
- LLC, L.L.C., Inc., Corp.
- singular, plural, and possessive
- A, An, The
- and, or, &
- hyphens, slashes, periods, commas
- three vs. 3
The following examples are NOT distinguishable:
- Smith Investments, LLC vs. Smith Investments, Inc.
- Apple Farm, LLC vs. Apple Farms, LLC
- Print Shop, LLC vs. The Print Shop, LLC
- Night & Day, LLC vs. Night and Day, LLC
- Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC vs. Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Inc
- Three Teachers Consulting, LLC vs. 3 Teachers Consulting, LLC
Searching the Illinois Name Database
1. Go to the Department of Business Services’ Database
2. Select “Corporate and LLC“, then click “Continue“.
3. Select “Name” for Search Method, enter your desired LLC name in the search box, then click “Continue”.
- Leave out the ending “LLC” and any punctuation.
- Capitalization doesn’t matter.
- To be thorough, just enter the first word or two of your LLC name to ensure you see everything that is potentially similar. (Ex: if your desired Illinois LLC name is “Johnny Apple Farm LLC”, just enter “Johnny Apple”).
- To be even more thorough, you can enter just a part of the first word. (Ex: if your desired Illinois LLC name is “Print Shop & Supplies LLC”, just enter “print”).
4. Click the “Search” button and browse the list of existing Illinois businesses:
- If a “your search did not match any records” message appears, that means your desired LLC name is available for use.
- If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your desired LLC name is available for use.
- If your desired LLC name appears in the list exactly as you want it, your desired LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
- If the results show a name that is deceptively similar to your desired LLC name, your desired LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
Note: And don’t worry, if you’re not 100% sure that your desired Illinois LLC name is distinguishable, just file your paperwork with the state. If your name is not available, the state will send back your filing and let you know that the name needs to be changed.
Once you find an LLC name that is unique and distinguishable, you’re ready to select your LLC’s Registered Agent. We’ll discuss this in the next lesson: Illinois LLC Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
Illinois Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the Illinois Secretary of State at 217-782-6961. Dial extension 7736 for the Limited Liability Department.
If you can’t get through on the above number, just call 217-782-6875 and ask to be transferred to the Limited Liability Department.