How to Incorporate a Business in Illinois

by Contributor; Updated September 26, 2017

How to Incorporate a Business in Illinois. A corporation is one of the more advantageous business entities, but also one of the most complex. A corporation distinguishes itself from its owners and employees, limiting their liability in financial matters, but there is also far more paperwork and a more complex tax code that must be followed. Here is information on how to incorporate your business in Illinois.

Step 1

Head to the Illinois Department of State Web site (see Resources, below) to find the forms needed for your corporation. For-profit and nonprofit corporations will have different forms, so choose the ones appropriate for your business. You can also contact the Secretary of State's office directly by calling (217) 782-6961.

Step 2

Use the "Electronic Corporate Name Database" link to get access to a complete list of all of the corporations currently in operation in Illinois. This will help you determine if the corporation name you'd like to use is currently taken. This service is currently free.

Step 3

Complete a Name Reservation form and send it to the Secretary of State's office. This is vital if you wish to insure that the name you'd like to use for your business won't be used by another entity. There is a fee for reserving a name.

Step 4

File the Articles of Incorporation with the office of the Secretary of State. The Articles of Incorporation represent the basic information related to your business, including its name as well as the number and names of managers who serve as directors. There is a fee for processing the Articles of Incorporation at the Secretary of State's office.

Step 5

Expect the process for incorporating your business to take at least 6 weeks, depending on the expediency of the Secretary of State's office. You will receive a copy of your corporation's Articles of Incorporation as well as confirmation of their registration. You'll also receive an Employer Identification Number (EIN).


  • Hire an attorney if you feel unsure about the process of incorporating in Illinois. While it may cost more money, the time and energy saved will make the cost worth it.


  • Be aware that you will need additional licenses if your corporation is going to sell products like alcohol or firearms. Be sure you know which licenses you need in order to incorporate your business in Illinois. Understand that online incorporation services are not free, and as such, add to the overall cost of starting your business.

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