Updated November 10, 2020:

An Illinois LLC lookup is an important step in forming your business and avoiding any legal trouble down the road. This search is easy and free, and it's the first part of forming a limited liability company (LLC) in the state. You first need to perform a search, then make sure your LLC name meets the requirements for the state of Illinois.

You can search for state businesses by either file number or name. Your search will return a list of area businesses. You can then click on any result to view a detailed report on the entity and obtain a Certificate of Good Standing on the entity.

This information also lets you know whether the name that you want to register for your LLC infringes on an existing company. If your search returns no results, it means there's no business registered under that name. You can proceed with creating your LLC with that title.

If you have a corporate name availability request, you can send an email to the secretary of state's office or call 217-782-6961. You can also call 217-524-8008 to check for LLC availability.

Illinois LLC Name Requirements

The name of your LLC must end with "LLC" or "L.L.C.," and you can't use words such as "bank" and "corporation" in the company's name.

If your LLC name search has returned some results, you can come up with a unique variation to make your name distinguishable. However, the following changes don't create distinguishability:

  • Adding “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” “Inc.,” or “Corp.” 
  • Making a word in a name possessive or plural instead of singular (or vice versa).
  • Substituting or adding articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”).
  • Using “and” instead of “or."
  • Changing the punctuation.
  • Spelling out a number instead of using a numeral (or vice versa).

Search the Illinois Name Database

You can perform a search for free using the Department of Business Services database. Simply select “Corporate and LLC,” click “Continue,” and follow the prompts to perform your search. You don't need to use the “LLC” ending when performing your search, and you should leave out all punctuation marks. You may use uppercase or lowercase letters for your search. When you're ready, just click the “Search” button.

Your search will either return a list of similar company names or display a message reading “your search did not match any records.” This message means that the name isn't registered, there are no similarities, and you're free to use it for your LLC.

If there's a business on the list with the exact same name, you'll need to come up with a unique variation or think of something new. If there's a business on the list with a similar name, you may be able to proceed or just use a slight variation to make your LLC's name unique.

The secretary of state's office will reject your application and send back the filing if there are any conflicts with your desired name. You'll just need to come up with a new variation or pick a new name to proceed with creating your LLC.

Advantages of Forming an LLC in Illinois

It's quick and easy to set up an Illinois LLC. All the forms are available online. This type of business structure is popular because it's a middle ground between a sole proprietorship and a corporation. These are some of the unique benefits an LLC affords:

  • Personal liability protection: Unlike a sole proprietorship, your personal assets are separate from the business's debts and obligations. So if the LLC declares bankruptcy or runs into similar legal trouble, your personal assets won't be on the line.
  • Simple rules and regulations: An LLC only needs articles of organization and other basic documents. Unlike a corporation, you don't need to have a board of directors or hold annual meetings.
  • Flexibility: You can make changes to your LLC with a majority member vote (or if you meet the other requirements outlined in your articles of organization) and then just file the paperwork.
  • Tax benefits: Also unlike a corporation, only the LLC's individual members are taxed based on their adjusted gross income. In a corporate structure, both the business and the owners must pay taxes.

If you need help with an Illinois LLC lookup, 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 such as Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.