Start a Business in Illinois

Order Registered Agent Service

Helpful Tools

Welcome to Our Community

We're committed to publishing free informational resources such as this how-to guide. Our resources have been shared by important industry organizations including:

This guide on starting your business in Illinois provides step-by-step instructions on the paperwork to file formation documents, obtain tax IDs, and set up company records.

how to start a business

Step-By-Step Startup

Below is an overview of the paperwork, cost, and time to form each of the most popular business structures. Simply click on the link for your desired structure to view detailed step-by-step instructions.

  • If you have not decided whether you want to form an LLC, corporation, or other business structure, click here.
  • If wish to form your business in a different state than Illinois, click here.
Structure Paperwork Cost Time

Illinois Limited Liability Company

Click for step-by-step instructions
  • Form LLC-5.5: Illinois Limited Liability Company Act Articles of Organization
  • Operating Agreement
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form REG-1: Illinois Business Registration Application
  • Formation: $500 + optional $100 expedite fee
  • Illinois business registration: state fee varies depending on tax accounts needed
  • Formation: Immediately online. ~2 weeks by mail or fax. ~1 business days with $100 expedite fee.

Illinois Corporation

Click for step-by-step instructions
  • Form BCA 2.10: Articles of Incorporation - Business Corporations Act
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Form REG-1: Illinois Business Registration Application
  • Incorporation: $150 filing fee + franchise tax ($25 minimum) + optional $100 expedite fee. The expedite fee is required if you file online. Franchise tax is calculated as $1.50 per $1,000 on the paid-in capital represented in this state. So if you paid-in less than $16,666, then your franchise tax due is the minimum amount of $25.
  • Incorporation: ~2 weeks by mail or fax. ~1 business days with $100 expedite fee.

Illinois Nonprofit

Click for step-by-step instructions
  • Form NFP 102.10: Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • IRS Form 1023: 501(c) Tax Exempt Application
  • IRS Determination Letter
  • Form REG-1: Illinois Business Registration Application
  • Illinois Sales Tax Exemption letter of request
  • URS Charitable Registration, if applicable
  • Form CO-1: IL Charitable Registration Statement
  • Incorporation: $50 by mail or $77.75 online + optional $100 expedite fee
  • 501(c): $275 or $600 IRS fee
  • Form REG-1: varies based on state tax accounts
  • Illinois Charitable Registration: $15
  • Incorporation: ~2 weeks by mail or fax. ~1-5 business days if you file online and pay the $100 expedite fee.
  • 501(c): 2 weeks to 3 months

Top 5 Tips on Registering a Business in Illinois

  1. Plan for your expenses. The fee for an LLC is slightly higher than other states. Forming an LLC costs $500 and a $250 annual fee. The fee for a corporation varies, but is usually $125 to start and $100 annually.
  2. Illinois offers a wide variety of business structures. In addition to a traditional LLC, you can choose from a Series LLC or an L3C. Illinois offers over 5 different type of business corporations. The most common is simply called a "business corporation". Check that you desire this type of corporation before you get started... we'll explain these options.
  3. A common source of confusion is the franchise tax for corporations. It is based on the value of paid-in-capital. Say you authorize 1,000 shares at $2.50 per share - the paid-in-capital is then $2,500. You'll look up the amount of franchise tax due based on a paid-in value of $2,500, which happens to be a $25 franchise tax.
  4. Filing your Illinois annual report requires original signatures. Changing your registered agent requires a separate form.
  5. The Illinois Secretary of State branded their online filing system "cyberdriveillinois". You'll use this website if you choose to file your formation documents online.
© 2012 - 2023 Harbor Compliance. All rights reserved. Harbor Compliance does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice. Use of our services does not create an attorney-client relationship. Harbor Compliance is not acting as your attorney and does not review information you provide to us for legal accuracy or sufficiency. Access to our website is subject to our Terms of Use and Service Agreement.