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The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a smart entity choice for many start-up businesses.  The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With a little research, you can learn how to form an LLC in Illinois without an attorney.

Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be held personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, protecting for the business owner’s personal assets.

Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration and management flexibility.

Forming an LLC in Illinois can be both affordable and is simple enough for most people to start on their own.  That said, it’s not a bad idea to have a legal professional like While the filing is pretty straightforward, it’s nice to have some support if you have questions, alerts when the annual report is due, forms like operating agreements, banking resolutions and more.  There are companies like IncFile or ZenBusiness and others that do all of this for as little as $49.

To form a Limited Liability Company in Illinois, file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.  The LLC filing fee for standard processing is $150.

Approval for the LLC typically takes 3-4 weeks.  Expedited processing is available which shortens the approval process to 1-2 business days and is an additional $100.

If you have questions, contact the Illinois Secretary of State.
501 S 2nd Street, Room 351
Springfield, IL 62756
http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/services/business.html

 

HOW TO FILE THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION AND FORM AN ILLINOIS LLC

To get started, visit the Illinois Secretary of State.

Step 1: Choose the type of LLC

Indicate whether you wish to establish a “standard” limited liability company or a limited liability company that has the ability to establish series.

A limited liability company with the ability to establish series, commonly referred to as a “Series LLC”, has the ability to create a mini LLC within the larger LLC umbrella.  Real estate investors will often use the Series LLC to individually protect each property.

Most businesses will want to form the standard LLC.

Step 2: Provisions

Read over the provisions.  If you don’t agree, a paper filing will be required.

 

Step 3: Name the LLC

Enter the name you want for the LLC.  The name of the LLC also has to differ from other entity names in the state of Illinois.  Check on available LLC names.

The name of the LLC must include one of the following designators at the end of the business name:

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

A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator.  “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.

Illinois LLC Register Name

Step 4: Principal Place of Business

In this section, enter the street address, city, state and zip code of the initial principal office.  This address can be the physical address of the LLC, the address where the business records are stored or the address of the registered agent.

Illinois Limited Liability Company Principal Place of Business

Step 5: Registered Agent

To have an LLC in Illinois, a Registered Agent must be identified.  The Registered Agent can either be a resident of Illinois or a commercial registered agent service.  The Registered Agent must have a physical address in the state to act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc on behalf of the LLC.  A PO Box is not allowed.

Even though the business owner can be the registered agent, their name and address become public record and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when they are doing business from home.

Learn more about the Registered Agent in Illinois.

Illinois LLC Registered Agent

Step 6: Names and Addresses of Managers and Members

This section is looking for the names and addresses of managers and/or members with the authority of manager.

  • Member-Managed LLCs have members (owners) that are active in the day-to-day operations of the business.
  • Manager-Managed LLCs have managers hired by the members to run the LLC, similar to a CEO of a corporation.

If the LLC is Member-Managed, all of the members would typically be entered.  If there is only one member, that one member would enter their information. Member-Managed LLCs would enter the name of the manager(s).

Illinois LLC Member Manager Managed

 

Step 7: Organizer’s Signature

The LLC Organizer is someone who is involved with the formation of the Articles of Organization.  The Organizer may or may not be a member, such as a mentor, attorney or accountant, but the initial member(s) could be listed as an organizer.

If the organizer agrees to the terms, sign and provides their contact information.

Illinois LLC Organizer Signature

Step 8: Review

Review the information to ensure it is all correct.

Step 9: Select Processing

Choosing “no expedited service” saves $100 but the application won’t be reviewed for 10 business days, resulting in a total processing time of 3-4 weeks.  Requesting expedited service will reduce the time of reviewing the application down to 24 hours, resulting in the total processing time of the LLC to 1-2 business days.

Illinois LLC Expedited Service

Step 10: Pay and File

Pay and file the Articles of Organization.

Depending on the processing selected, the LLC will be approved in 1-2 business days or 3-4 weeks.

If mailing the LLC form, send 2 copies of the Articles of Organization and payment to:

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

That concludes the basics of forming an LLC in Illinois.  Remember, even though you can do it yourself, there is more to an LLC than just the filing.  If you have questions, work with an attorney or a specialized entity formation company such as IncFile or ZenBusiness to make sure everything is done correctly.

Wrapping Up

While not required, an Operating Agreement is recommended in many cases.  An Operating Agreement is a legal document outlining the roles and responsibilities for the members of the LLC.  Read more about when an LLC needs an Operating Agreement.

After filing the LLC, be sure to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The EIN is basically a social security number for a business and will be needed before opening a business bank account.  There is no cost to apply and it takes about 5 minutes to get.  See how to apply for an EIN.

Last, before starting a business in Illinois, you may still need to apply for business licenses, sales tax permits, self-employment taxes and more in Illinois.  See the Guide to Starting a Business in Illinois for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are starting a sole proprietorship or partnership and want to operate under a business name, you will need to register a DBA (Doing Business As) with the County Clerk’s office.  To register a name for a corporation or LLC in Illinois, you will register with the Secretary of State.

  1. Go to the Illinois Secretary of State
  2. Click on Departments
  3. Click on Business Services
  4. Select Corp/LLC Search
  5. Search the state database.

The names and addresses of the members of an Illinois LLC are made public record and are available through a search on the Secretary of State’s website.

  • Step 1 – Choose the type of LLC
  • Step 2 – Agree to provisions
  • Step 3 – Name the LLC
  • Step 4 – Identify the principal place of business
  • Step 5 – Choose a Registered Agent
  • Step 6 – Include the names and addresses of managers and members
  • Step 7 – Sign
  • Step 8 – Review that all information is correct
  • Step 9 – Select processing
  • Step 10 – Pay and file

The cost for normal processing of an Illinois LLC is $150 and takes 3-4 weeks. Expedited processing is available for an additional $100, reducing processing to 24 hours.

Yes!  Any individual, owner, member, officer, director, etc of a business entity that meets the state requirements can be a registered agent.

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