Illinois Article of Organization

You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, and dreams of a thriving Illinois LLC, plus you’re mentally prepared to make it happen.

But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Articles of Organization.

With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Illinois. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Illinois LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.

But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.

Choosing an LLC Name

Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.

Any name you choose must adhere to Illinois’ business name requirements, so your selection must:

  • Include “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC”
  • Not use terms that suggest a different business type, such as “Corporation,” “Corp.” “Incorporated,” “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” “Co.,” “Limited Partnership” or “LP”
  • Not contain terms that imply it was formed for the purpose of insurance, assurance, banking, or as a corporate fiduciary
  • Use only English characters and Arabic or Roman numerals
  • Not “create a connotation that is offensive to good taste and decency”

In addition, your name cannot already be taken. Submit a name availability inquiry to find out if your desired name is available.

Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 90-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.

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Choosing an Illinois Registered Agent

A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Your Articles of Organization won’t be complete without registered agent information, so have an agent lined up before you sit down to complete it.

Your registered agent can fall into one of two categories: an individual or a business entity. If an individual, your agent must be an Illinois resident with a physical address in the state. And a business entity, like a registered agent service, must be authorized to do business in the state.

Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.

Preparing to File Your Illinois Articles of Organization

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Get Deal

Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Illinois.

Considering its importance as the catalyst for your LLC’s business activities, the Articles of Organization is surprisingly short and easy. In fact, if you collect the required information beforehand, you should have no problem completing it in one sitting. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • LLC name
  • Principal office address
  • An effective date up to 60 days after the filing (optional)
  • Registered agent name
  • Registered office address
  • Business purpose
  • Business duration (optional)
  • Names and addresses for each LLC member or manager
  • Names, addresses, and signatures of the organizers

It would be nice if the Articles of Organization were free but, like most business filings, it’s not. It costs $150 and there’s an extra $100 fee for expedited processing, so have a check or credit card ready when you file.

Filing Options

When you’ve got your information ready and your payment arranged, you’re ready to file, and the state offers three different methods: online, by mail, or in person. So, you can choose the one that best aligns with your preferences and timelines.

Online

This is the fastest way to file, as you have your choice of 24-hour or ten-day service. You can complete the entire process through the CyberDrive Illinois filing portal.

However, online Articles of Organization filings have several restrictions:

  • It cannot have a post-effective date.
  • The “General Purpose” section must be completed.
  • It cannot include optional provisions.
  • It must include a “perpetual duration.”
  • It cannot have more than eight initial managers.
  • It can only have one organizer.

Mail

Download, print, and complete the paper application. Then include your payment and mail two copies to:

Secretary of State 

Department of Business Services Limited Liability Division 

501 S. Second St., Rm. 351 

Springfield, IL 62756

Expedited processing is not available for mailed forms, and the standard processing time is 10-15 business days.

In-Person

If you live in Springfield and would rather hand-deliver your materials, you’re welcome to do so. And if you live in Chicago, you have the option of delivering them to:

Illinois Secretary of State

Division of Business Services

69 W. Washington St., Suite 1240

Chicago, IL 60602

Expedited processing is available at either office.

What About Foreign LLCs?

The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Illinois), but what if your business is expanding to Illinois from another state? In this case, don’t worry about the Articles of Organization. Your LLC will take a different route.

Out-of-state LLCs must instead foreign qualify in Illinois by filing an Application for Admission to Transact Business by mail or in-person to one of the addresses above. It might be tempting to start doing business before you’ve foreign qualified, but resist the urge! This can lead to serious penalties and fines.

After you’ve been authorized by the state, you’re free to kick off your business activities in Illinois.

Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?

Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.

The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.

There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.

While each service has optional upgrades and feature packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Illinois Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization have been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.

There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like annual reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.

Important Post-Formation Compliance Issues

Once you’ve successfully filed your Articles of Organization, your LLC is an official business entity in the state of Illinois. However, this doesn’t mean that your responsibilities have come to an end. There are several other steps you’ll need to take if you want to operate a compliant LLC for years to come.

Acquire a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)

While an EIN isn’t a requirement for Illinois LLCs, we strongly recommend that every entrepreneur obtains one. An EIN enables your LLC to hire employees, open business bank accounts, file taxes, and take care of several other important aspects of LLC maintenance. Even if you operate a single-member LLC with no employees, you should still have an EIN for your business.

Set Up a Financial Infrastructure

One other crucial step is to solidify the financial aspects of your LLC, first by opening a business bank account. You must have separate bank accounts for your personal use and for business purposes, as this will help you keep your personal and business assets separate, a vitally important consideration for any entrepreneur. If you commingle these assets, you leave yourself wide open for lawsuits, as it would be easy for someone to claim that your business is simply an extension of your own personality and not a separate entity from you as a person.

The other portion of this step is to set up an accounting system. This can either mean that you hire an accountant to take care of your LLC’s bookkeeping, or you could acquire high-quality accounting software like QuickBooks. Either way, you need a reliable means of keeping detailed records for each financial transaction your LLC executes. This is another vital part of keeping your personal and business assets separated, and it will also be enormously helpful come tax time.

Acquire Licenses and Permits

The next step involves obtaining any industry-specific licenses and permits your LLC may need to operate in compliance with state laws. Depending on the nature of your LLC’s business, you may require several permits or you may be able to operate your LLC without any state-level licenses.

Thankfully, Illinois makes it very easy to figure out your business’ licensing needs. All you need to do is visit the state’s Registrations, Licenses, and Permits page and you’ll find the license and permit applications you require. Make sure to check with your county and locality as well, as there may also be licensing requirements for your business on these levels.

Obtain Business Insurance

This step isn’t a requirement, but it is a strong recommendation. The exact insurance policies your business needs will vary based on the type of products and services you offer, but most LLCs should at least have a general liability insurance policy to protect against common perils like slip-and-fall accidents. In some industries, you might need several different insurance policies to cover all of your financial bases, so do your research ahead of time to determine which types of insurance you should purchase.

File Your Annual Reports

Each year, every LLC in Illinois must file an annual report. This report includes some basic information about your business and keeps the state updated regarding any important changes to your LLC’s structure. The information you’ll need to file this report typically includes the date and location where you formed your business, the name and address of your registered agent, your principal business address, and your LLC members’ names and addresses.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Filing the Illinois LLC Articles of Organization

How long does it take Illinois to form an LLC?

The typical turnaround time for a non-expedited Illinois LLC formation is roughly ten business days. However, the state also has expedited service available for an additional $100, which ensures that your formation will be completed within 24 hours, with exceptions for weekends and holidays.

Should I file my own Articles of Organization, hire an attorney, or use an online service?

This question largely comes down to personal preferences, but we do have some general insights. The DIY route can be quite a bit of work, as you’ll need to complete each step of the formation process on your own with no assistance. As for hiring an attorney, this can be prohibitively expensive for new businesses, as a lawyer can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to form your LLC.

You can think of business services companies as a middle ground between these options. While most of these companies charge a fee to form your LLC, that fee will be significantly less expensive than an attorney’s fee. At the same time, you still aren’t going it alone. Instead, you have an experienced professional guiding you through the entire process.

What does Illinois require for LLC formations other than the Articles of Organization?

Unlike some states, Illinois doesn’t require any related filings other than your formation articles. However, we still strongly recommend obtaining a federal tax ID number (EIN). An EIN allows your LLC to file taxes, hire employees, open business bank accounts, and more. Every LLC should have one, whether your state requires it or not.

How many small businesses are there in Illinois?

Today, Illinois has more than 1.2 million small businesses. Clearly, entrepreneurs in many different fields find Illinois to be a great place to own and operate a business entity.

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