How long does it take to incorporate in Illinois? Regular processing of articles of incorporation takes about four weeks, plus an additional two or three days to mail the final documents.

Regular filing time for an LLC (limited liability company) is between seven and ten business days. Expedited filing time only takes about 24 hours, although additional fees will apply.

Illinois LLC

If you intend to establish a limited liability company in Illinois, you'll need to pay some mandatory costs, and possibly some optional ones too. Mandatory costs include government fees associated with required state forms. Optional costs include those for professional services (attorneys, accountants, etc.) or those for private companies that assist you in filing the necessary forms.

In Illinois, an LLC is officially formed when the articles of organization are accepted for filing by the Illinois Secretary of State office. This preprinted document is available from the office and specifies the information legally required in order to form an LLC. Required information includes a name that complies with the state's LLC law. Noncompliant names will cause the articles to be rejected.

Before you prepare the form, you can check whether a potential LLC name is available and acceptable by getting in touch with the Department of Business Services. If so, you'll have the option of reserving the name for a period of 90 days. This might avoid your articles being rejected. Reserving a name requires a $300 fee (as of December 2010).

As you submit your articles of organization for filing, you'll also need to submit the appropriate mandatory fee. There are two different fees which apply:

  • For a basic LLC, use Form LLC-5.5 and submit the $500 filing fee (as of December 2010).
  • For a series LLC, use Form LLC-5.5(S) and submit the $750 filing fee.

Illinois requires the listing of members and managers within a company's articles of organization. Neither a minimum age limit nor in-state address is required in order to be a member.

Illinois Corporation

Formally incorporating within the State of Illinois requires more steps than establishing an LLC:

  1. Decide on a name for your corporation. The name must be distinguishable from other corporations operating within the state. Common endings include "Corporation," "Incorporated," and "Inc." If your chosen name is already in use by an active corporation or LLC in Illinois, you can still register a "Doing Business As" (DBA) with the country recorder of each county in which you'd like to conduct business.
  2. Select a registered agent and official address. Your registered agent must have a physical office within the state and must be available during normal business hours.
  3. Decide who will be on the board of directors. Illinois does not require you to list them within your articles of incorporation.
  4. Decide who will be officers. Illinois does not require you to list them within your articles of incorporation.
  5. Determine how you'd like your corporation to be taxed.
  6. File articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State.
  7. Obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN). Applying for an EIN only takes 15 minutes and can be done online.
  8. Issue stock to initial shareholders. Your state filing fee may be affected by the number of shares and par value.

Once you've formally incorporated in Illinois, you'll need to take some additional steps to fully establish your corporation:

  1. Hold an initial meeting of the board of directors. Adopt corporate bylaws.
  2. Open a corporate bank account.
  3. Acquire business licenses from cities and counties where you intend to conduct business.
  4. Hold annual shareholders' and directors' meetings.
  5. File necessary reports.
  6. Maintain accurate and thorough records on file.

Specific types of corporations include professional corporations, domestic corporations, and foreign corporations. If your business requires obtaining some type of license before you may legally market your skills within the State of Illinois, then you'll probably need to form an Illinois professional corporation. If you have registered as a domestic corporation in a state other than Illinois, then you must register with the Illinois Secretary of State as a foreign corporation.

Illinois does not require the involvement of a lawyer to form a corporation within the state.

If you need help understanding how to incorporate in Illinois, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.