Last Updated on September 13, 2020

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular business structure for many start-up businesses in Illinois.  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.

Related: How Does an LLC Protect You?

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 is simple enough for most people to start on their own, but it’s nice to have some support in case you have questions or get stuck.  IncFile and Inc Authority provide LLC formation guidance for only the cost of the state fees!

Read: Should you use a Formation Service, Hire an Attorney or Do it Yourself?

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

To get started, you can apply online with the Illinois Secretary of State or file Form LLC-5.5.

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.  Agree to continue. 

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 in Illinois.

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.
  • L3C

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

Before finalizing a name, learn more about LLC Name Requirements in Illinois.

Before selecting a name, you may also want to see if the domain name is also available too.

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.  This can either be a resident of Illinois or a commercial registered agent service and 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.

Related: Do I Need a 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).

Related: What is the Difference Between a Member-Managed LLC and Manager Managed LLC?

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.

Related: Who can be an LLC Organizer

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

Tasks after forming your LLC

Once the LLC has been formed, there are a few additional steps to take care of. Below is a list of the most common tasks.

Prepare an Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is a document that governs the framework of an LLC.  This document covers items like ownership rights, member responsibilities, how profits and losses are distributed and more.

Most states do not require an LLC to have an operating agreement but it is still worth considering. Without an operating agreement:

  • The LLC could be subject to generic state rules that may be detrimental in the event of a lawsuit
  • Member’s personal liability protection may be diminished
  • Members may not have a full understanding of their roles and responsibilities which could lead to costly disputes in the future

Learn more about when an LLC needs an operating agreement and download an Illinois operating agreement template

Obtain an EIN

The EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique 9-digit number for a business. Similar to a social security number for an individual, the EIN identifies business entities for tax purposes.  

The EIN will be needed in order to open a bank account, register for business licenses and permits, file tax returns, pay payroll taxes and more. 

Related: How to Apply for an EIN

Open an LLC Bank Account

Opening a bank account for your LLC is important for liability protection as the bank account separates the business’s funds from the member’s personal funds.
Several documents will be needed to open a business bank account such as:

  • A banking resolution is a document that authorizes the members to open a business bank account on behalf of the LLC.
  • Copies of the original formation paperwork from the state showing the creation of the LLC.
  • Driver’s licenses of the members.
  • Depending on the age of the LLC, an Illinois Certificate of Good Standing may be needed to prove the LLC is active and in good standing with the state.

Related: How to Open a Business Bank Account for your LLC 

Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on what your business does and where it is located, there will likely be a variety of business licenses and permits to register for before starting. Some common registrations include:

  • Business License – Some states and several cities require businesses to obtain licensing before they can start. In some cases, even home-based businesses must have licensing in order to legally operate. 
  • Professional License – Certain services such as barbershops, accountants, salons and others must be licensed.
  • Sales Tax Permit – In order to sell products and certain services, registration with the Illinois Department of Revenue will be necessary.

Related: What Business Licenses are Needed in Illinois?

File Annual Reports

LLCs are required to file an annual report with the Illinois Secretary of State.  The annual report updates ownership information and other details.

Related: How to File an LLC Annual Report