How to Form a Corporation in Illinois

How to Use this Guide

To form a Corporation in Illinois, use the step-by-step guide below or hire a professional service to do it for you:

  • IncFile ($49 + state fee) for basic & quick incorporation.
  • Rocket Lawyer ($99 + state fee) for incorporation & optional attorney advice.
  • Harbor Compliance ($499 + state fee) for top-to-bottom incorporation & compliance.
Amy M. Toepper, Esq.
This Guide is Attorney Approved

Amy Toepper is a licensed Illinois attorney & founder of Legal In A Box.

For a legal advisor on your side, set up a free consultation.

STEP 1) VERIFY & SECURE YOUR BRAND NAME

Choose a Business NameThe most important step, pick a name! Choose a unique name, not too similar to another registered name, and one that does not contain restricted wording. Remember to include ‘Corporation,’ ‘Company,’ ‘Incorporated,’ or ‘Limited’ or an abbreviation for these words in your company name.

Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a name, and ensure it is available by conducting a Corporate Entity Search.
  2. If concerned about trademark issues, perform a TESS System search to check the U.S. Patent office database.
  3. If needed, request a Reservation of Name Application to reserve your LLC name for 90 days ($300 fee).

STEP 2) APPOINT A REGISTERED AGENT

Choose a Registered AgentWhen incorporating in Illinois, you are required to designate a registered agent to handle official documents on behalf of your business. They must be a person residing in Illinois or a business entity legally registered with the Illinois Secretary of State and have a physical address (No P.O. boxes!) where legal notifications can be received. They also must be available during regular Monday through Friday business hours.

Follow this step:

  • Designate a registered agent by electing someone within your company, hiring an outside professional, or incorporating through a service (such as IncFile) and receiving a qualified Registered Agent free.

STEP 3) FILE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

Register an LLC

To become an officially recognized corporation, you’ll need to file Articles of Incorporation with the secretary of state. This is a declarative document that discloses the basics of your Illinois corporation for the public record including:

  • Corporation name, address, and statement of purposes,
  • Name and address of Registered Agent
  • Incorporator information, and so on.
  • Additional information will also be required, so double check the form and only file (mail or online) when you’re ready!

Follow this step:

  • File your Articles of Incorporation online here or download the form here.

Filing fee:

By Mail – $150 plus preliminary payment for franchise tax at a minimum rate of $25

Online – $275 + 2.35% credit card fee (must pay by credit card)

STEP 4) MAINTAIN A CORPORATE RECORDS BOOK

File Annual Reports & Publication RequirementsThink of this as the hard copy record book where all critical corporate documents are kept like the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc. It’s the ultimate company binder! They’re very common and while not necessary, having one is highly recommended for all serious business entities.

Follow these steps:

  1. Collect your important documents and start your records book!
  2. Go to your local office supply store or go to Amazon, or even use one of these Corporate Kits where you can brand the include book/binder for as little as $99!

STEP 5) ELECT INITIAL DIRECTOR, MEET, DISCUSS BYLAWS

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Appoint at least 1 director who among other things will oversee the corporation in Illinois until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. That director will need to:

Follow these steps:

  1. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:
  2. Appoint officers & discuss/create Corporate Bylaws.
  3. Choose a bank & approve the issuance of stock certificates.
  4. Agree on corporate seal and adopt official stock certificate form.
  5. Approve s-corp (opt.). Record Minutes of Meeting, have directors sign, then add to records book.

STEP 6) OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

Best Business Bank Account

Where you choose to bank is no small matter when we’re talking about a corporation. Often startups and entrepreneurs just use personal accounts, but that’s not going to fly with a corporation.

Instead you and your CFO, if you have appointed one, need to find the best bank or credit union to handle the business banking services you’ll need to grow.

Look at different fee-structures, perks, incentives, and overall costs and savings and think ahead! You could start with a smaller bank for better deals, then switch to a much larger bank when your volume demands it.

Follow these steps:

  1. Research Business Checking Accounts.
  2. Set up your business bank account!

STEP 7) HANDLE TAXATION & LICENSING/PERMITS

Business Licenses

To ensure that you will not face penalties, fines, and fees when operating a business, you need to completely fulfill your Illinois business taxes and licenses obligations to the state.

Follow these steps:

  1. Get an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, for free through the IRS Website.
  2. Bookmark the Chicago Small Business Admin office and the Sec. of State’s Business Services.
  3. To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
  4. Consider professional business license research services that take care of the legwork for you.

Need Help Incorporating?

Use one of these reliable incorporation services & have all paperwork handled on your behalf. Each service offers a different level of features and pricing but all take care of incorporation. No matter which you choose, you’ll be in good hands.

IncFile
  • Pricing Starts at
    $49

  • 100,000+ Businesses Formed

  • Perfect for:
    Anyone starting a business on a budget and need quick incorporation

Visit Website
Rocket Lawyer
  • Pricing Starts at
    $99

  • 10,000+ Businesses Formed

  • Perfect for:
    Anyone wanting the choice between basic incorporation or a suite of online legal services

Visit Website
Harbor Compliance
  • Pricing Starts at
    $499

  • 10,000+ Businesses Formed

  • Perfect for:
    Anyone wanting top-to-bottom Corporation formation and ongoing compliance

Visit Website

Note that this guide on incorporating in Illinois isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a corporation in Illinois, please consult with a business attorney like Amy Toepper.