Five Steps to Start a Corporation in Illinois

Are you looking to start a corporation in Illinois? Incorporating in the Prairie State is a manageable process that we can walk you through in five easy steps! Major items include completing the Articles of Incorporation, creating appropriate bylaws for your company, and designating the initial director(s). Got questions after you read this summary? Reach out to one of our PRIME advisors for a free consultation

Start a Corporation in Illinois 

Step 1: Name Your Corporation

To begin, you should choose a business name for your corporation. The name should not be the same as any other in the state and it should fulfill the Illinois corporation naming requirements.

Illinois Guidelines for Corporation Naming:

  • The name is required to include corporation, company, incorporated, or an abbreviation such as Corp., Inc., Co., Corp, Inc., or Co.
  • The name must be different from any other business name in the state 
  • The name can’t imply the business is for banking, corporate fiduciary, or insurance unless authorized beforehand by the state’s Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate 
  • For the most detailed list of naming guidelines, there is a corporate naming guideline on the Illinois General Assembly website 


You can check out this article for more information about DBAs, or schedule a consultation with a PRIME advisor for more information. 

Is my desired corporation name available?

The desired corporation name should be different and unique to other existing business names in the state. The Illinois Secretary of State has a Business Search Portal, which is a good resource to use to figure out if your desired business name is available.

Is the URL available for purchase?

To create cohesive branding, check if the URL handle for your desired business name is available. You should buy the domain immediately, even if you aren’t using it right away, to reserve the naming rights. GoDaddy is a great option for reserving your domain name.  

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent

To continue with the incorporation process, you should choose an Illinois registered agent before you register with the Secretary of State. 

An LLC or corporation chooses a registered agent to be in charge of documents, government correspondence, and service of process. This is a point person for your new company.

The  registered agent can be any individual, business entity, or professional registered agent service as long as they meet the following requirements: 

  • 18+ years in age 
  • Physically reside in the state with an address 
  • Accessible during expected business hours in-person


Step 3: Host an Organizational Meeting

Hosting an organizational meeting in the same time frame as filing the Articles of Incorporation is crucial to distributing task responsibility. 

Some of these tasks include: 

  • Filling out the Articles of Incorporation 
  • Writing and managing bylaws
  • Choosing initial director(s)
  • Organizing share structure
  • Creating an Incorporator’s Statement


Write and Manage Bylaws

Corporation bylaws are rules that delegate governance and how you will run your business. They serve as a mock constitution, making the rules and delegations of responsibilities easy to determine. 

A corporation’s bylaws will supplement any rules set forth by the federal government or the state.

Some important topics for bylaws include:

  • Proper corporation governance—who will fill what role
  • Record keeping and management 
  • Bylaw amendment structure


Choose Initial Director(s)

You must choose a minimum of one director to oversee your corporation until at least the first shareholder meeting. This person, called a corporate director, will be in charge of the election of positions, amendments, and bylaws. The incorporators or initial directors will then be in charge of holding an organizational meeting. During this time, the incorporators will choose the Board of Directors, or the initial director(s) will designate the proper officers. 

Organize the Equity Structure 

Stock is how one determines the percentage of equity or ownership, one has in a company. The higher number of shares, the more ownership you have. 

The division of shares can be laid out into share classes, which hold different rights and privileges. You can set up as many classes as you want, keeping in mind that the more complicated you make the equity structure, the harder it will be to administrate your Illinois corporation. A higher number of authorized shares provides ownership protection and allows you to issue shares without legal fees. 

Create an Incorporator’s Statement

This statement contains all names and addresses of each initial director and should be stored in the corporate records book. This document functions until the Board of Directors (BOD) is elected during the first shareholder’s meeting. 


Step 4: File the Articles of Incorporation 

The next step is to file the Articles of Incorporation with the state. This document officially creates your Illinois corporation. It can be filed online, by mail, or in person with the Illinois Secretary of State. It costs $150 to complete this process.

The Illinois Secretary of State will include the following information:

  • Corporation Name 
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Registered Agent Name and Address
  • Director(s) Name(s) and Address(es)
  • Incorporator(s) Name(s) and Address(es)
  • Authorized Share Count 
  • Property Value Estimation 
  • Gross Business Estimation 


Need more help? Check out our blog for more resources, or set up a free consultation!

Mailing Address:

Secretary of State

Department of Business Services 

501 S. Second St., Rm. 350 

Springfield, IL 627564

Step 5: Obtain an EIN for Your Corporation

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN), is a form of a social security number for a company. 

EINs are used for opening business bank accounts, federal and state tax filing, and hiring new employees for the company.

EINs can be obtained from the IRS by the business owner after forming the company online or through the mail.


Starting a Corporation in Illinois: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a DBA or trade name for incorporation?

Yes, you need your Illinois corporation to operate under a name other than your legal business name.

What is a share class?

A share class is a set of shares grouped together with the same privileges relative to other groups of shares in the same company.

How do I get an EIN for my corporation?

EINs can be obtained from the IRS by the business owner after forming the company online or through the mail.


Starting a Corporation in Illinois: Additional Resources

Starting a Business in Illinois

How to Form an Illinois LLC 

Cost to Form an Illinois LLC