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How to Start an LLC
in Chicago, Illinois

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Learn how to form a Chicago LLC yourself

Read our DIY guide to form a Chicago, Illinois, LLC, with information on Registered Agents, naming rules, business licenses, and more.

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Why Create a Chicago LLC?

Often referred to as the "Windy City," Chicago boasts a dynamic and diverse business landscape that can provide a solid foundation for your LLC.

Chicago is known for its strong commitment to supporting small businesses, offering various resources and initiatives to help startups thrive. Those include grants, loans, and a multitude of networking opportunities (more on that later).

The city's strategic location in the heart of the Midwest, excellent infrastructure, and access to a skilled workforce make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs. With its dense population, you're unlikely to experience a shortage of potential employees or customers. And thanks to the many universities and companies located in and near Chicago, its population is diverse and skilled to boot.

Don't overlook Chicago's tourism economy, either. It attracts tens of millions of visitors per year, who collectively spend billions of dollars on accommodation, food, drinks, entertainment, and more. That's a lot of money flowing to Chicago businesses, and depending on the products and services you offer, your Illinois business could be one of them.

Benefits of Starting a Chicago LLC:

There are several compelling reasons you might want to choose Chicago as the location for your LLC:

  • Affordability: Compared to other major cities, Chicago is a relatively affordable place to live and do business in.

  • Convenience: The city's robust transportation system and connectivity make it an easy place to conduct business, connect with clients, and get where you need to go.

  • Access to resources: From funding opportunities to mentorship programs, Chicago offers a wide variety of resources to support startups.

  • Cultural and commercial hub: The city's cultural diversity and rich history provide a unique backdrop that can add to your business's identity and marketability.

  • More central location: Unlike its coastal counterparts, Chicago is located in the Midwest. If your business involves lots of travel or shipping, this can be a major plus. Why? A more central location means faster and cheaper shipping and transit.

How to Form a Chicago LLC Yourself in 6 Steps

Ready to get your Chicago business off the ground? You can do this yourself in six steps:

Start an LLC

Step 1: Choose a Unique Business Name and Complete a State Business Search

Selecting the right name for your business is a crucial step in developing its unique brand identity. When choosing a business name, strive to pick one that is unique, memorable, and easy to pronounce and spell.

Keep in mind that multiple businesses in the same state aren't permitted to have the same name. So, once you've settled on a preferred option, check to make sure it's not already taken by another business in your state with the help of our free Business Name Search Tool.

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Business Name Search

Step 2: Provide an Official Business Address (or Get a Virtual Address)

An official business address is absolutely necessary for receiving important legal and official correspondence if you don’t have any other official address to provide.

Additionally, having a physical address rather than a P.O. box makes it possible to open a business bank account, reliably receive correspondence from business contacts, and build a legitimate reputation for your business.

If your business doesn't have its own physical address, and you don't want to use your personal address to form your LLC, we’d highly recommend you get a virtual address! Although Bizee doesn’t offer a Virtual Address service in Illinois, there are other great Virtual Address service providers that can help you secure a real street address and access to your mail online anytime, anywhere.

Step 3: Assign a Registered Agent

Simply put, a Registered Agent is responsible for receiving legal and official documents on behalf of your LLC. This is a crucial role that ensures you stay informed about important matters affecting your business, including upcoming due dates and necessary fees.

While you can technically serve as your own Registered Agent, we highly recommend you use a Registered Agent service instead. With a dedicated professional acting as your Registered Agent, you'll never miss a due date or lose an important piece of mail in the shuffle.

And with our Registered Agent service specifically, you'll get automatic mail forwarding, convenient email and text notifications, a modern and easy-to-use online dashboard, and much more.

Step 4: File Your Articles of Organization With the Illinois Secretary of State

Once all the core components of your business are in place, you'll be ready to officially file your Articles of Organization with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Your Articles of Organization contain essential information about your new business.

On it, you'll need to include:

  • Business name and address
  • Date you want the Articles of Organization to become effective
  • Registered Agent's name and address
  • Purpose of your company
  • Names and addresses of all managers

Once completed, you can file online with the Illinois SoS. Can also file by mail:

By Mail

Office of the Illinois Secretary of State Department of Business Services Limited Liability Division 501 S. Second St., Rm. 351 Springfield, IL 62756

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What are the Fees and Requirements to Form a Business in Chicago?

State Fee


State Filling Time

3 Weeks

Expedited Filing Time

2 Business Days

*includes online processing fees

Annual Report



Due Date

Within 60 days immediately preceding first day of anniversary month.

Filing Fee


*includes processing fee

Step 5: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It's necessary if you want to hire employees and pay employment taxes, or if you have a multi-member LLC that's taxed as a partnership, you'll need an EIN to file your taxes.

Fortunately, getting an EIN is simple when you use an EIN filing service. If you're more of a DIY type, you can get one yourself by applying directly through the IRS.

Step 6: Create an Operating Agreement

Although not every state requires LLCs to have an operating agreement (and Illinois doesn't), we recommend that all LLCs create one anyway.

In short, an operating agreement is a legal document that outlines the structure and organization of your company. It can also contain provisions for the future and provide detailed answers to "what-if" scenarios down the road.

If you're one of our customers, you already have access to our operating agreement template. Once it's filled out, we recommend having a lawyer read through and approve it before it's signed by you or any other of the LLC's owners.

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Other Chicago LLC Types

Since Chicago is subject to the rules and regulations laid out by the Illinois Secretary of State, entrepreneurs in Chicago can start certain types of LLCs that business owners in other states cannot.

For example:

Series LLC

As mentioned above, Illinois allows for the creation of a series LLC (i.e., multiple LLCs created under the umbrella of one "parent" LLC). To apply for a Series LLC, Illinois requires that you complete a Certificate of Designation form.

Low-profit LLC

Illinois introduced low-profit limited liability companies, or L3Cs, in 2010. An L3C is one that either supports the accomplishment of one or more charitable or educational purposes — think of it as a hybrid between a nonprofit organization and an LLC.

Professional LLC

Professional Limited Liability Companies (PLLCs) are different from professional corporations in that they typically have licensing requirements applicable to certain fields, such as law and medicine. In order to form a PLLC, you may need a state license to practice. Learn more about PLLC vs. LLC and which one is right for your business.

Foreign LLC

Want to do business in Chicago, but started your LLC in another state? Register your company as a foreign LLC in Illinois and you'll be able to do so. Learn more about Illinois Foreign LLC registration.

Helpful Resources for Chicago, Illinois

Need more information about starting and managing a Chicago LLC?

For general information, see the resources provided by Illinois state agencies:

For information and resources specifically tailored to Chicago businesses, check out:

Common Questions About Creating an LLC in Chicago

Here are answers to the most common questions about starting a Chicago LLC:


What Is the Difference Between Inc and LLC in Illinois?

In Chicago (and in Illinois as a whole), a corporation or “Inc” is a company owned by shareholders and can sell stocks on the public stock market. By contrast, an LLC is a business owned by members rather than shareholders, and it can't sell stocks.


Does an LLC Need a Business License in Chicago?

Yes, every business operating in Chicago needs to obtain a City of Chicago business license. See the city's license application requirements for more details.

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