Illinois Business Name Search (LLC lookup) - 2024 Guide

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LLC names
A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the Illinois business name rules.

This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.

Illinois LLC name

If you file your Illinois LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another Illinois business entity – or that doesn’t meet the Illinois name rules – your filing may be rejected.

The first step to checking if your LLC name passes is to make sure your name is not already taken by another business.

You can do this using the Business Entity Search). And you need to do this because two business entities in the state can’t have the same name or be too similar.

The second step is to make sure your LLC name follows the Illinois Secretary of State’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.

How do I search the Illinois business entity name database?

You can use the business entity search to search your business name against the existing business entities registered in Illinois.

Note: This tool is sometimes called the Illinois Business Name Search or the Illinois Business Entity Search. They both refer to the same website and get you the same search records.

Visit the Illinois Business Entity Search page:

Illinois Secretary of State: Business Entity Search

  1. Choose “Keyword” for the Search Method
  2. Enter your LLC name in the “Search for” field
  3. Click Submit to search

Screenshot with instructions on how to use the Illinois Business Entity Search

Why not search by “Name”? When you search by “Keyword” the Business Entity Search finds any business name that contains those words. But if you search by “Name” instead, you might miss a similar name which adds a filler word. For example, if you searched “Gutter Guy” using the “Name” setting, you’d miss the existing business called The Gutter Guy Inc. You can’t name your company “Gutter Guy LLC” if The Gutter Guy Inc. already exists.

Search tips:

  • Leave out “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, “Limited Liability Company”, etc., when doing your searches.
  • Leave out any commas, periods, apostrophes, etc.
  • You can search using uppercase or lowercase letters.


How to interpret the Illinois LLC search results

If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your Limited Liability Company name is available for use.

  • Let’s keep using the example above. If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the only similar names you saw were “Riverwalk Rentals” and “Riverwalk Studio Starters”, then your name should be available.
Screenshot of sample results from the Illinois Business Entity Search
Example of Illinois Business Entity Search results

If no results show up, that means your LLC name is unique and it should be available for use. To be safe, run your search again using only part of your LLC name (to double-check that there are no similar names).

  • For example, search just the word “Riverwalk” instead of Riverwalk Studios.

If your exact LLC name appears in the list of search records, your LLC name is not available for use because another Illinois business entity is already using it.

If the results show a name that is very similar to yours, your LLC name may not be available for use.

  • If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the search results show a “Riverwalk Studio”, then your name is not available.

What if my desired LLC name isn’t available?

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different name for your LLC.

Tip: Wait until your LLC is approved before you apply for your LLC EIN Number or purchase any other marketing materials. This way you don’t spend money on business supplies you can’t use because your business name isn’t available.

When in doubt, call the Secretary of State

You can call the Illinois Secretary of State to confirm that your LLC name is available.

Not all states offer this service, but the representatives in Illinois will help you use the Illinois Business Entity Search to figure out whether your business name is available.

The Business Service Department phone number is 217-524-8008 for the Springfield office, or 312-793-3380 for the Chicago office. Their hours are Monday through Friday, from 8am to 4:30pm Central Time.

Illinois Limited Liability Company Name Requirements

As per Section 180/1-10 of the Illinois LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming an Illinois business entity that you need to know.

Do I have to use a comma in my LLC name?

No, you don’t have to. You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. Both versions are accepted by the Secretary of State.

For example: If your desired business name is Waffle Truck, you can file it as:

  • Waffle Truck LLC
  • Waffle Truck, LLC

Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in Illinois.

What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?

Your Illinois LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • Limited Liability Company

The following designators are not allowed

Your Illinois LLC can’t make itself sound like an Illinois Corporation or any other business entity besides an LLC.

The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:

  • Inc.
  • Corp.
  • Incorporated
  • Corporation
  • Ltd.
  • Co.
  • Limited Partnership
  • L.P.

English language or English alphabet

Illinois has a rule that business names can only contain the following:

  • English alphabet letters
  • Arabic numerals (1, 5, 200)
  • Roman numerals (I, IX, MMVII)
  • Symbols on a standard English keyboard ($, #, “”)

So if your desired LLC name is in another language, it must be either:

  • translated into English
  • or written in letters of the English alphabet.

For example:

If your desired Illinois business name is प्राण योग Studio LLC, you must file it as Prana Yoga Studio LLC, using only English letters.

Or if your desired Illinois business name is Appétit Pâtisserie LLC, you must register it as Appetit Patisserie LLC. You could still use the correct accents in Appétit Pâtisserie on your business’s sign and website. But the documents filed with the Illinois Secretary of State can’t use those non-English letters.

What words are not allowed in my Illinois LLC name?

Your Illinois LLC name can’t contain words and abbreviations that are restricted by law.

For example, you can’t make your LLC name sound like it’s a bank, part of the government or a government agency, or anything else that misleads the public.

In Illinois, you need specific permission to use these words in the LLC name: trust, trustee, fiduciary, bank, banker and banking.

You also can’t use words that are reserved for licensed professionals. These vary by state, but some common examples are accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, and engineers.

Your Illinois business name must be distinguishable (unique)

When you use the Illinois Secretary of State Business Entity Search, you will compare your desired LLC name to existing businesses in the state.

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different business name.

Below are rules and examples of LLC names that are not distinguishable.

Designators

Differences in designators (endings) don’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Jelly Popcorn Company LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the Illinois Business Name Search results:

  • Jelly Popcorn Company, Inc.
  • Jelly Popcorn Company, Corp.
  • Jelly Popcorn Company, L.L.C.

Filler Words

Adding non-meaningful or filler words won’t create distinguishability.

In Illinois, the following types of words are “filler” words that don’t create distinguishability:

  • articles (a, an, the)
  • conjunctions (and, &, or)

If your desired LLC name is Cardinal Farms LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • The Cardinal Farms LLC
  • A Cardinal Farm Inc.
  • Of Cardinal Farms L.L.C.
  • Cardinal and Farms Corp

Plural or Singular Words and Possessive Words

Adding a letter “s” to make a word plural or possessive doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Pim’s Turtles LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Pims Turtles LLC
  • Pim’s Turtle Inc.
  • Pims Turtle, L.L.C.

Suffixes, Derivations or Deviations

Using the same word, just with a suffix or a different derivation, doesn’t create distinguishability. This rule can be tricky, because sometimes a different version of a word has a different meaning and would be distinguishable. Really, it all depends on the opinion of the LLC examiner who reviews your paperwork.

If your desired LLC name is Pumpkin Creations LLC, it might not be available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Pumpkin Creatives LLC
  • Pumpkin Creates Inc.
  • Pumpkin Creativity, L.P.

Abbreviation vs Complete Name or Word

Using an abbreviation instead of a complete word (or vice versa) doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Illinois Pizza Bros. LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • IL Pizza Bros. Corp
  • IL Pizza Brothers, LLC
  • Illinois Pizza Brothers Inc.

Business Search Tips for Abbreviations

If you want to use an abbreviation, or a word that has a commonly-used abbreviation, make sure you search for the abbreviation and the complete word when you use the Business Entity Search to check availability.

For example: If you wanted to use the word “February” in your business name, make sure you also search for the business name using “Feb” instead. Or if you wanted to use the abbreviation “IL” for Illinois, make sure you also search for “Illinois”.

What if my Illinois business name is rejected?

If you file your Illinois Articles of Organization (the document that creates your Illinois LLC) and the business name is not available, don’t panic. The state will notify you and tell you why your filing was rejected.

You will just need to file again with a variation of your LLC name or a different LLC name.

Illinois Business Name FAQs

Do I need a name reservation in Illinois?

No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in Illinois. It’s an unnecessary step and a waste of money.

You can just file your LLC’s Articles of Organization with your desired LLC name.

Does Illinois require LLC in the name?

Yes. Your Illinois LLC name must contain one of the allowable designators at the end. The most commonly used designators are:

  • LLC
  • Limited Liability Company
Does my Illinois LLC need a DBA?

No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your business entity in Illinois.

A DBA (known as an Assumed Name in Illinois) lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Articles of Organization).

If you want your LLC to do business under a name that’s different from its true and legal name, you have to file an Assumed Name Adoption online or by mail. Check out the Secretary of State Assumed LLC Name page for more information on this process.

If you are going to file an Assumed Name for your Illinois LLC, it must also be distinguishable from existing business names in the state.

There is no limit to the number of Assumed Names an LLC can have.

For more information, please see Does my LLC need a DBA?

When would my LLC use a DBA?

Let’s say you form an LLC called Chicago Restaurant Tours Company LLC, but you also want to use a friendlier, catchy name, like Chicago Tours. In this case, your LLC would need to file an assumed Name Adoption to use the name Chicago Tours.

If you don’t file an assumed Name Adoption for a different name, you can only use your legal entity name of Chicago Restaurant Tour Company LLC.

How do I get a business domain name?

Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to check if your domain name is available before forming your LLC.

You can search for available domain names with GoDaddy:

What does “distinguishability” mean?

Each business entity name must be “distinguishable upon the records” of the Secretary of State.

This means that no two businesses can operate with the same exact name. Said another way, if a business already exists with your desired LLC name, you can’t register your LLC with that name.

For example, let’s say you want to form an LLC called Violet Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Violet Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing Illinois Corporation, it is not distinguishable. You can’t use it and must choose another name.

How do I come up with a business name?

Business names are important for branding and recognition. The name of your Illinois LLC can be your company’s brand name, but it doesn’t have to be (please see the FAQ about DBAs above). Either way, picking a good LLC name is an important decision.

Here are some quick tips for coming up with business names:

  1. First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
  2. Then list out as many business names as you can think of. Don’t edit or analyze them. Just get as many names on the page as you can.
  3. Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
  4. Next, set the list aside. Do something else, like go for a walk or get groceries, or sleep on it for the night. Then come back and review the list of names. As you go through it, write down additional ideas and variations.
  5. Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
  6. Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
  7. The best business name will often “rise off the page” and present itself. If it doesn’t, you can try this trick: Close your eyes and count to 10. When you get to 10, you must choose a name. When you open your eyes, force yourself to make a decision. Sometimes we know the best name deep in our subconscious, and this trick can help it come out. Trust yourself and go with what feels best.

For more tips, please see How to Choose an LLC Name.

Can I use the name of another Illinois entity?

No. You can’t use the same name as another Illinois business.

And it doesn’t matter what entity type it is – your LLC can’t have the same entity name as another corporation, LLC, or any other entity type.

You can’t use another business’s name even if the entity is in “delinquent” status on the Illinois Secretary of State website.

But if a business is dissolved, they no longer have rights to that name. This means you can form an LLC with the same name.

How do I change my LLC name?

You can change your LLC’s name later by filing an Amendment form with the Secretary of State.

We have step-by-step instructions on how to change an LLC name in Illinois.

How to start an LLC in Illinois?

Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Illinois:

  1. Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
  2. Choose who will be your Illinois Registered Agent
  3. File the Illinois LLC Articles of Organization
  4. Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
  6. Open an LLC bank account
  7. Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Illinois
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz is the leading expert on LLC education, and has been teaching for 15 years. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
 
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

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5 comments on “Illinois Name Search”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. The name I would like to use comes up as an “INVOLUNTARY DISSOLUTION” on the status row when I click on the business name following these steps. Does that mean I can use the name of this since it looks like Illinois ordered to dissolve or when the court forces the sale of a company? Hope to hear back soon!

    • I ended up calling the Secretary of State’s office, for LLC’s that have INVOLUNTARY DISSOLUTION, three years must have passed before someone else can use the name again. Hope this helps incase someone has a question on it in the future.

      • Thanks so much for the update Thomas! I’m sure this will be helpful to other readers :)

  2. Thank you for this quality information. I wish I would have found you last year.

    • You are very welcome Kenyatta! At least you found us now ;)

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