Starting a Corporation in Illinois | What You Need to Know

Start a Corporation in Illinois

In Illinois, starting a corporation can benefit entrepreneurs looking to establish a separate legal entity for their business. Incorporating your business provides liability protection for its owners and offers potential tax benefits and a professional image. This comprehensive guide will walk you through Starting a Corporation in Illinois, from choosing a corporate name to fulfilling ongoing compliance requirements. Some people consider starting a corporation since it has advantages and benefits rather than Starting an LLC in Illinois.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you gain knowledge in starting a corporation with thorough research and market study. It would be best to cross-check all the factors in this article before forming a corporation.

What is a Corporation in Illinois?

A corporation in Illinois is a business organization recognized as a separate legal entity from its owners, also known as shareholders. When a corporation is formed, shareholders invest capital by purchasing shares of stock and, in return, become partial company owners. The corporation is managed by a board of directors elected by the shareholders to oversee the company’s operations and make important decisions. Corporations in Illinois are required to have at least Three directors. One of the main advantages of a corporation in Illinois is that it provides limited liability protection to its shareholders, meaning their assets are not at risk if the corporation incurs debt or is legally sued.

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Common Types of Corporations

Before you start with a corporation, you should know what type of corporation you will form. There are several different forms of corporations you can take into consideration, depending on your corporation’s objectives and ownership structure.


C-Corporation is the most known type of incorporation. They have almost all corporate distinguishing characteristics. Profits are distributed to corporate owners who are taxed at an individual level. The corporation is taxed similarly to a business unit.


S-Corporation in Illinois is set up similarly to a C-corporation but has different tax implications and owner limits. An S-Corporation has no more than 100 stockholders and is not taxed separately. These business units must also file paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain their status.

Nonprofit Corporation

Religious, educational, and charity institutions frequently use nonprofit businesses to run their operations without making a profit. Thus, a nonprofit corporation is exempt from paying taxes. The nonprofit organization’s gifts, contributions, or cash are reinvested in the company to fund its growth, future endeavors, or operations.

It is recommended to Start a Corporation in Illinois if you would like to provide limited liability protection to your shareholders rather than Illinois LLC. However, you may want to consult to LegalZoom’s Business Attorney before starting a business.


How to Start a Corporation in Illinois

To start a corporation in Illinois, you must follow the below steps that, include choosing a corporate name, hiring a Registered Agent, appointing directors, filing for Articles of Incorporation, creating corporate bylaws, holding the initial board of directors, issuing stock, obtaining required licenses and permits, registering with state tax agencies, and annual reporting and ongoing compliance. All these steps are basic ones. It can be changed depending on the type of corporation you form and the nature of your business.

Step 1: Choosing a Corporate Name

The first step in starting a corporation is choosing an available name that complies with Illinois naming rules. Most states require that the name of a corporation be distinguishable from other registered business names and include a corporate designator such as “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” or an abbreviation thereof.

Here are some guidelines you must follow while naming your corporation in Illinois-

  • Your business name must contain entity identifiers, such as “Incorporated,” “Limited,” “Corporation,” or “Company,” or an abbreviation, such as “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.”
  • Exclude any words in your business name, such as “Trust,” “Bank,” “Credit Union,” or “Trustee,” or words related to a government agency, such as “FBI,” “State Department,” or “Treasury.”

To check the availability of your desired corporate name, you can search the Illinois Secretary of State‘s business name database and Business Name Search in Illinois. If the name is available, you may choose to reserve it for a specific period of 90 days by filing a name reservation application and paying the online name reservation fee of Not available and mail name reservation fee of $300. If your corporation plans to operate under a name other than its legal name, you may also need to register a fictitious or “doing business as” (DBA) name.

The DBA filing can be done by three methods, online, by mail, and in person filing., which costs around $50. In addition, the DBA’s validity in Illinois is Indefinite, which you can file in Illinois Secretary of State.

You can check out How to File a DBA in Illinois for clearer understanding.

Step 2: Hire a Registered Agent

Hiring a Registered Agent is essential in starting a corporation. Registered Agent is a person or company responsible for receiving important legal documents, tax notices, and other correspondence on behalf of your corporation. They ensure that your corporation remains compliant with state regulations and requirements. There are Illinois Registered Agent Services to check in forming Illinois Corporation. We reviewed some of the best-registered agent services and provided features as an add-on with their packages.

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Step 3: Appointing Directors

Corporations in Illinois are required to have at least Three directors, though some states may require more. Directors are responsible for overseeing the corporation’s management and making major decisions on behalf of the company. In Illinois, directors must be at least 18 years old and do not need to be state residents.

When appointing directors, it is essential to consider individuals who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and capable of making sound business decisions. Maintaining a record of appointed directors, including their names, addresses, and terms of service, is also a good idea.

Step 4: Preparing and Filing Articles of Incorporation

After you appoint the initial board of directors in your Illinois corporation, the next step is to write and file a Articles of Incorporation. In writing, the Illinois Articles of Incorporation, the corporation name, principal place of business, the purpose of business, Registered Agent contact information, and the names and addresses of incorporators and initial board members, should be written.

To officially form your Illinois corporation, you must prepare and file Articles of Incorporation with the Illinois Secretary of State. The Articles of Incorporation is a legal document that outlines essential information about your corporation, such as its name, address, purpose, and details about its stock.

The specific requirements for Articles of Incorporation vary by state, but generally, the document must include the following:

  • The corporate name
  • The purpose of the corporation
  • The name and address of the registered agent
  • The names and addresses of the initial directors
  • The number of authorized shares and their par value
  • The name and address of the incorporator(s)

Once the Articles of Incorporation are complete, please submit them to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, along with the required filing fee. Fees vary by state, but in Illinois, the Articles of Incorporation filing fee costs around $150 for filing in-person and by mail. It is crucial to provide accurate and complete information on this document, as errors or omissions may result in delays or rejection of your filing.

  • Online Filing: Create an account/Log in to the SOS site, get the online form, fill it, and submit online
  • Offline filing: Send the form by mail to Department of Business Services, Limited Liability Division, 501 S. Second St., Rm. 351, Springfield, IL 62746

Step 5: Creating Corporate Bylaws

Now you are done filing Articles of Incorporation in Illinois, the next step is to draft corporate bylaws. While not always required by law, creating corporate bylaws is essential in establishing Illinois corporation. Bylaws are the internal rules and regulations that govern the corporation’s operations and management. They outline the rights and responsibilities of directors, officers, and shareholders and provide guidelines for holding meetings and making decisions.

Key provisions to include in your corporate bylaws may include:

  • The corporation’s purpose and principal place of business
  • The roles and responsibilities of directors, officers, and shareholders
  • The process for appointing and removing directors and officers
  • The procedures for holding annual and special meetings
  • The methods for amending the bylaws and Articles of Incorporation
  • The procedures for issuing stock and maintaining shareholder records

Once the bylaws are drafted, they must be adopted by the corporation’s board of directors. Keeping a copy of the bylaws with your corporate records and updating them to reflect changes in the corporation or applicable laws is essential.

Step 6: Holding the Initial Board of Directors Meeting

The initial board of directors meeting is a crucial milestone for your Illinois corporation. During this meeting, the directors will adopt the corporate bylaws, elect officers, and make other key decisions to set the foundation for the corporation’s operations.

The agenda for the initial board meeting may include the following:

  • Adopting the corporate bylaws
  • Ratifying any pre-incorporation actions taken by the incorporator(s)
  • Electing corporate officers (e.g., president, vice president, secretary, treasurer)
  • Designating a corporate bank account
  • Authorizing the issuance of stock
  • Approving necessary licenses, permits, and tax registrations

It is essential to keep detailed minutes of the initial board meeting, documenting the decisions made and actions taken. These minutes should be stored with your corporate records.

Step 7: Issuing Stock

Corporations in Illinois are required to issue stock to their owners, also known as shareholders. When preparing to issue stock, you must determine the number of authorized shares and their par value, as outlined in your Articles of Incorporation. You may choose to issue different classes of stock, each with its rights and privileges, such as voting rights and dividend preferences.

The process for issuing stock typically involves the board of directors approving a stock issuance resolution, determining the price per share, and recording the issuance in the corporation’s stock ledger. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of all stock transactions, including transfers and cancellations, is crucial to ensure proper ownership tracking and compliance with securities laws.

Step 8: Obtaining Required Licenses and Permits

Depending on the nature of your corporation’s activities and location, you may need to obtain various licenses and permits to operate legally. These may include federal, state, and local requirements, such as:

  • A Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax reporting and employee withholding purposes.
  • State sales and use tax registration, if your corporation sells taxable goods or services
  • Professional or occupational licenses for specific industries (e.g., healthcare, construction, food service)
  • Illinois Business Licenses, zoning permits, and health department approvals

Researching and obtaining all required Illinois licenses and permits before commencing operations and maintaining compliance with any ongoing renewal or reporting requirements is essential.

Step 10: Registering with State Tax Agencies

In addition to obtaining licenses and permits, your Illinois corporation may also need to register with various tax agencies. This may include registering for sales and use tax, obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in Illinois for payroll tax purposes, and filing state income tax and franchise tax returns.

An EIN will serve as the tax ID for your Illinois corporation. EIN can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a 9-digit number similar to Social Security Number. EIN, however, is distinct from SSN. It is only used for business-related activities, particularly for submitting general taxes. The form must be completed and uploaded to the IRS website.

The application of an EIN in Illinois can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

Each state has tax requirements, so consult a tax professional or Illinois Department of Revenue for guidance on your specific obligations.

Step 11: Annual Reporting and Ongoing Compliance

Once your Illinois corporation is up and running, you must fulfill ongoing reporting and compliance requirements to maintain good standing. This may include filing Annual Report with the Illinois Secretary of State, updating your corporate records to reflect changes in directors or officers, and staying current on any required licenses or permits.

In addition, it is essential to stay informed about changes in corporate laws and regulations that may impact your business and to seek professional advice when needed.

Paying Your Taxes in Illinois

Even if you have established your corporation in Illinois, pay your taxes and keep everything up to date so you won’t pay any penalty. Unlike an LLC, there is a corporate tax that every corporation in Illinois has to pay. On the other hand, they must pay income taxes based on their business income. Some other types of taxes in Illinois are sales tax, franchise tax (not applicable to all the states), and other state taxes.

Cost of Forming a Corporation in Illinois

In forming a corporation in Illinois, a filing and Annual fee must be paid. Without it, your corporation won’t operate. A corporation’s initial filing fee may vary from state to state. However, in Illinois, it costs $150 for filing in-person and by mail. The corporation in Illinois also has to file an Annual Report (though it might not be mandatory, it is recommended to file one). Ensure you comply with all the necessary fees and costs so your corporation will run successfully and smoothly.


What is a corporation in Illinois?
A corporation in Illinois is a legal entity that is established to conduct business.
What are the benefits of incorporating in Illinois?
The benefits of incorporating in Illinois include limited liability protection for your personal assets, perpetual existence, and access to more capital.
What kind of businesses needs to incorporate in Illinois?
Every business in Illinois can incorporate as a corporation.
How do I choose a name for my corporation in Illinois?
Your name must include the words, “Corporation,” “Company,” “Incorporated,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation of such words.
What documents do I need to form a corporation in Illinois?
You need to file articles of incorporation, appoint a registered agent to maintain a registered office, and file an annual report.
What is a registered agent, and why do I need one in Illinois?
A registered agent is a person or entity responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of a corporation and you need them due to several legal requirements.
How long does it take to incorporate in Illinois?
It takes approximately 5-10 business days to process the paperwork and receive your articles of incorporation.
Can I file my articles of incorporation online in Illinois?
Yes, you can file your articles of incorporation online in Illinois.
What is the cost of incorporating in Illinois?
The cost of incorporating in Illinois is $150.
Do I need to have a physical office address when incorporating in Illinois?
Yes, you need to have a physical office address. A P.O. Box is not an acceptable address.
Can I incorporate in Illinois if I’m not a resident?
Yes, you need not be a resident of Illinois to incorporate your business there.
Do I need to get a business license to incorporate in Illinois?
You may need to apply for a business license at the municipal or county level.
How many directors do I need to appoint while incorporating my corporation in Illinois?
You need to appoint a minimum of one director.
Are there any residency requirements for the directors of a corporation in Illinois?
No, there are no residency requirements.
How do I change the registered agent for my corporation in Illinois?
You can change the registered agent by filing the Change of Registered Agent form with the Illinois Secretary of State.
Do I need to file an annual report for my corporation in Illinois?
Yes, you must file an annual report each year to maintain your corporation’s standing.
What is the due date for submitting the annual report in Illinois?
The due date for filing an annual report in Illinois is on or before the first day of the anniversary month of the corporation’s incorporation.
Will the Illinois Secretary of State send me a reminder to file an annual report?
Yes, the Secretary of State sends a reminder, but it is your responsibility to file on time.
What penalties will I incur if I fail to file an annual report on time in Illinois?
If you fail to file an annual report on time, your corporation will be considered delinquent, and will lose its legal standing.
How can an Illinois corporation dissolve or terminate?
To dissolve, the corporation must file Articles of Dissolution, complete notification and advertisement procedures, and pay any outstanding fees.
How can I restore a dissolved corporation in Illinois?
You must file a Certificate of Revival, obtain tax clearance from the Illinois Department of Revenue, and submit outstanding annual reports and taxes with the Secretary of State.
What is the tax rate for Illinois corporations?
The corporate tax rate in Illinois is 9.5%.
What are the compliance requirements for corporations doing business in Illinois?
All corporations doing business in Illinois must register with the Illinois Department of Revenue and pay state taxes, along with following any other state and federal regulations.
Can a foreign corporation do business in Illinois?
Yes, foreign corporations can do business in Illinois by registering with the Illinois Secretary of State and obtaining a certificate of authority.
When can a foreign corporation do business without having to register in Illinois?
A foreign corporation that is functionally the same as an Illinois LLC is an exception and can operate in the State without registering.
How can I obtain an Illinois sales tax permit for my corporation?
You can obtain an Illinois sales tax permit by registering with the Illinois Department of Revenue.
What should I do if an out-of-state corporation doing business in Illinois doesn’t follow state regulations?
If you believe an out-of-state corporation is conducting illegal business practices or violating regulations, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
What is the Illinois NAICS code for corporation-related businesses?
The Illinois NAICS code for corporation-related businesses is 5411.
Where do I start when setting up a corporation in Illinois?
The first step in setting up a corporation in Illinois is to file articles of incorporation with the Illinois Secretary of State.
What information do I need to include in the articles of incorporation in Illinois?
The articles of incorporation in Illinois must include the corporation’s name, purpose, registered agent, and the number of shares of stock that the corporation is authorized to issue.
What is a registered agent in Illinois?
A registered agent in Illinois is a person or company authorized to accept legal papers on behalf of your corporation in Illinois.
Can I be my own registered agent in Illinois?
Yes, you can be the registered agent for your Illinois corporation if you have a physical address in the state.
Are there any special licenses or permits required for an Illinois corporation?
The specific licenses or permits required for an Illinois corporation will depend on the industry and type of business you’re starting.
How long does it take to set up a corporation in Illinois?
It can take as little as a few days to set up a corporation in Illinois, assuming all necessary paperwork is submitted and approved.
What is the minimum number of directors required to incorporate in Illinois?
Illinois requires at least one director to incorporate.
What is the difference between a domestic and a foreign corporation in Illinois?
A domestic corporation is technically one that is incorporated in Illinois, while a foreign corporation is one that has been incorporated in another state, but wishes to conduct business in Illinois.
How do I obtain approval for a corporation name in Illinois?
To determine if a corporation name is available in Illinois, you can search the corporation database at the Illinois Secretary of State.
What’s the annual fee for a corporation in Illinois for filing an annual report?
The annual report filing fee for a corporation in Illinois varies depending on the entity, but typically falls in the range of $75 – $125.
Is my personal information on an Illinois corporation public information?
Yes – in most cases, information about an Illinois corporation’s directors, officers, and registered agent is public information.
Do I need to file a DBA if my corporation’s name and my business are different in Illinois?
Yes – an Illinois corporation must file a DBA if it is doing business under a name other than its officially registered name.
Can S Corporations be formed in the state of Illinois?
Yes, S corporations can be formed in the state of Illinois.
Can the name of a Corporation in the state of Illinois contain punctuation?
Yes, the name of a corporation in the state of Illinois can contain punctuation.
How many articles of amendment get sent to Illinois Secretary of State?
Two original copies of the articles of amendment have to be sent to the Illinois Secretary of State.
How much does it cost to incorporate a business in Illinois?
The fee for incorporating a business in Illinois varies depending on the entity type.
How often do I need to file annual reports in Illinois if I own a corporation?
Corporations in Illinois must file an annual report with the Illinois Secretary of State every year.
Can non-US citizens form a corporation is the state of Illinois?
Non-US citizens are generally allowed to form corporations in Illinois under the same guidelines that apply for US citizens.
What is the Illinois Articles Of Incorporation cover page do?
The Illinois articles of incorporation cover page provides basic information about the corporation being incorporated, including the corporation’s name, address, and the purpose of incorporation.
Are there any residency requirements for directors or organizers of an Illinois corporation?
No, there are no residency requirements for directors or organizers of an Illinois corporation.
How do I change the name of my Illinois corporation?
To change the name of an Illinois corporation, the corporation must file articles of amendment with the Illinois Secretary of State.
What is the process of dissolving an Illinois corporation?
To dissolve an Illinois corporation, you must file articles of dissolution with the Illinois Secretary of State.
Are Illinois corporations required to have bylaws?
While the state of Illinois does not legally require corporations to have bylaws, it is a common standard practice within the industry.
Can an Illinois corporation change its state of incorporation?
No, corporations cannot change their state of incorporation once they have been officially filed.
What is the form number for striking an Illinois corporation?
To shut down an Illinois corporation, you will need to file form BCA1045, the “Termination of Corporate Existence.”
Can I reserve a corporation name in Illinois?
Yes, you can reserve a corporation name in Illinois for a fee.
Does Illinois require businesses to file initial or yearly reports with the state?
Yes, Illinois requires corporations to file an annual report each year.
What rights do shareholders have in an Illinois corporation?
Shareholders in an Illinois corporation have rights such as voting rights, rights to receive dividends, right to nominal value to a portion of the assets, and right to information and inspection.

Also Read

How to Save Money While Forming Your Illinois Corporation

One of the first ways to save money when forming your Illinois corporation is to do thorough research and educate yourself about the process. Understanding the different types of business entities, such as LLCs, S-Corps, and C-Corps, and their respective pros and cons, can help you make informed decisions that suit the needs of your business while also considering cost-saving opportunities. By doing your due diligence upfront, you can avoid unnecessary expenses and expedite the incorporation process.

Furthermore, it is vital to take advantage of online resources and tools that can simplify and streamline the incorporation process. There are numerous online platforms and services that offer affordable packages for incorporating a business, including legal documentation, filing fees, and registered agent services. These platforms often provide step-by-step guidance and templates that can help you navigate the incorporation process efficiently and cost-effectively.

In addition to utilizing online resources, entrepreneurs can also save money by leveraging free or low-cost resources provided by the state of Illinois. The Illinois Secretary of State website offers valuable information on business entities, filing requirements, and fees. By familiarizing yourself with these resources and guidelines, you can ensure compliance with state regulations without incurring unnecessary costs.

Another cost-saving strategy when forming your Illinois corporation is to consider DIY options for certain tasks. While seeking professional advice is indispensable for complex legal matters and financial decisions, there are certain aspects of incorporating a business that can be managed independently. For instance, conducting business name searches, drafting articles of incorporation, and filing paperwork with the state can often be done by the business owner with minimal costs.

Moreover, networking with other entrepreneurs and business professionals can provide valuable insights and cost-saving opportunities. By joining entrepreneur groups, attending networking events, or seeking mentorship from experienced business owners, you can gain valuable advice on how to save money during the incorporation process. Additionally, forming partnerships or collaborations with other businesses can help reduce overhead costs and maximize resources, creating mutually beneficial opportunities for growth and savings.

Overall, saving money while forming your Illinois corporation requires a combination of research, planning, and strategic decision-making. By taking a proactive approach, leveraging online resources, tapping into state-provided resources, considering DIY options, and networking with other entrepreneurs, you can effectively reduce costs without compromising the integrity and success of your business. With dedication and resourcefulness, you can navigate the intricacies of incorporating a business in Illinois with minimal financial burden, setting a solid foundation for your entrepreneurial endeavors.


Starting a corporation in Illinois involves several critical steps, from choosing a corporate name to fulfilling ongoing compliance requirements. Following the steps outlined in this guide and seeking professional advice when needed, you can successfully establish your Illinois corporation and enjoy the benefits of limited liability, potential tax savings, and a professional business image.

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