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How To Do An Illinois Business Name Search

How To Do An Illinois Business Name Search

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How To Do An Illinois Business Name Search

Starting a business in Illinois involves several steps, but one of the first is choosing a business name. This step is a little more complicated when setting up an LLC or corporation in Illinois because these entities must have a unique name.

To help you verify that your corporation or LLC is available to use, our step-by-step guide will show you how to quickly do an Illinois business name search using the Illinois Secretary of State’s business name database.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Illinois

The process of searching for an Illinois LLC name and corporation name is the same, and in this example, we will work through the LLC name search. 

Step 1: Visit the Illinois entity name database

Step 2: Search for the business name

How to do an Illinois business name search

To search whether your LLC name is available, select the “Business Name” button and enter the name you would like to use in the “Search for” field.  In this example, we will look up the business name “Windy City Autos.”

Step 3: Review the results

Illinois LLC Name Search Results

When we search the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Windy City Autos.”  To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Illinois, the name must be distinguishable from all of the other names registered. So, if you were looking to form an LLC with this name, you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.

To find more information about a registered business name, click on the link with the business name.

Clicking on the link for “Windy City Autos, LLC” brings a detailed report.

Illinois LLC Name Availability

While the name “Windy City Autos” may not be available, another variant like “Windy City Trucks” is.  Searching for those business names brings a result that says there were “No results found.”  While final approval is still with the Illinois Secretary of State, it is likely available to register. 

Available LLC Name Result

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Illinois.  Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Illinois Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names. 

What information can be looked up in the Illinois business name database?

The business name search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:

  • Company Name
  • Status: Active means the business is in Good Standing with the Illinois Secretary of State, and all reports and filing fees are up to date
  • Type of LLC: Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.
  • Registered Agent’s Information: An Illinois Registered Agent is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal, or tax notice need to be sent to the business.  This is often one of the owners, and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information.  Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, so their home address isn’t listed.  
  • Principal Office: This could be the business entity’s actual address or an address where the business records are stored.

Something to keep in mind is that even though each Corporation and LLC name must be unique, it may not stop someone else from using that name since business names for a sole proprietorship or partnership are not registered by the Illinois Secretary of State and are not required to be unique.  To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.

Related: Should I trademark my business name?

Illinois Business Name Search FAQs

How do I register for an Assumed Name (Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)

The Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information for corporations and LLCs registered in Illinois. 

The names of sole proprietorships or general partnerships are not centralized and are registered with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located. This registration is called an Assumed Name, which is also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Fictitious Name, or Trade Name.

How do I form an Illinois LLC?

Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use.  Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form an Illinois LLC by reading our step-by-step guide and file the Articles of Organization.

While not required in Illinois, an Operating Agreement, which are the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.

After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to register for Illinois business licenses and possibly obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so the business is legal to operate.

What are the requirements to name an LLC in Illinois?

In addition to being unique, the LLC’s name must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, LLC, L.L.C., etc., and it may not use restricted words such as bank or insurance unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.

Can an LLC name be reserved in Illinois?

If there is an Illinois business name that you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Application to Reserve a Name (Form LLC 1.15) with the Illinois Secretary of State. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 90 days.


  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

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How To Do An Illinois Business Name Search

How To Do An Illinois Business Name Search

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