Illinois Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

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by How to Start an LLC Team
Last updated: June 21st, 2024
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If you’re starting an Illinois-based business, you may want to start with a business name search first. This will help you determine whether or not the name is available for business registration.

If the name is taken, then you may need to go back to the drawing board and come up with further suggestions.

The search tool on the Illinois Secretary of State’s website helps users search for various business structures and business details of any entity registered in the state.

Irrespective of why you want to conduct a business search, the handy search tool on the Department of State’s website will help you get the information you are looking for.

Illinois search tips

When searching for a business in Illinois, the following guidelines will help give you the best results:

  • The Illinois name search is not case-sensitive, so whether you enter uppercase or lowercase letters is irrelevant.
  • Even if the company name contains punctuation marks or special characters, you should not include them as it will negatively affect your search results.
  • Broaden your results by selecting the “keyword” option when entering the company name.

The Illinois name search allows you to search for a corporation or LLC (limited liability company) by name.

Business search by entity name

To start your name search, refer to the Illinois Secretary of State website at

Select your search type

Select one of the following options:

  • Corporate and LLC
  • Corporate
  • LLC

Click on “Submit.”

Enter the entity name

Before entering your preferred name, choose a search method as follows:

  • Name
  • Key Word
  • Partial Word

Then enter the preferred name into the search bar and click on “Continue.”

Review the results

Depending on the search options you’ve chosen, and if matching results are found, whether exact matches or partial matches, they will be displayed on this page.

The information that you will be able to access on this page includes:

  • Entity type
  • File number
  • Corporation/LLC Name

Review additional business information

Click on the corporation name of the business entity you want to review, and it will take you to the business summary page. Here, you’ll be able to view a number of details, including the type of corporation, incorporation date, duration date, assumed name, etc

Illinois search results

Irrespective of your search criteria, when there are matching results, the search tool will return the following business details:

  • File number
  • Entity name
  • Status
  • Entity type
  • Type of Corp
  • Incorporation date
  • State
  • Duration date
  • Registered agent or service of process agent’s name, and address (no po box)
  • Annual report information
  • Officers details
  • Assumed name

Copies of documents and certificates

After conducting your name search on the Illinois Department of State’s site, you may want to get a hold of copies of business documents.

Copies may be certified or uncertified. Certified copies are correct and true copies of business filings and can only be obtained from the Secretary of State’s Business Services Department.

The most frequently requested business documents include:

  • Articles of Formation
  • Certificate of Authority
  • Articles of Amendment
  • Mergers
  • DBA and fictitious name registration
  • Dissolution and withdrawals

For obtaining copies of business documents, use the following information to reach out to the Secretary of State:

Illinois Secretary of State – Business Services Department

Physical address:
69 W. Washington St., Ste. 1240
Chicago, IL 60602

Mailing address:
501 S. Second St., Rm. 350
Springfield, IL 62756

Phone: 217-782-6961

Business name availability

Even if none of the names you search return any results, the name could still be registered as a trademark.

In order to determine whether or not you can still register a specific name, search the Illinois Trademark Database.

In the event the name you were considering is taken, you may need to go back to the drawing board and spark your creativity. However, the business search is a good place to look for inspiration.

Even if the name you want is taken, you can still use the results to think of variations of the name as long as the name you’re going to register is unique and distinguishable from any other registered business in Illinois. This rule applies to reserved names as well.

You must not use words or terms that imply that your company is affiliated with any banking, insurance, or fiduciary company unless you have authorization from the state Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate.

Do not include words that suggest your company is affiliated with a government agency like Treasury, FBI, or State Department.

You may conduct business under your legal entity name only unless you’ve registered a DBA.

In the event a business name is available, but you are not ready to complete the registration process, you should consider a name reservation.

To reserve a name in Illinois, complete the Application to Reserve a Name Form.

The form requires the following information:

  • Name to be reserved
  • Title and signature of the applicant
  • Name and address of the applicant

After completing the form, you may send two copies via mail to:

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

You will also need to pay a filing fee of $25 to the Secretary of State for the name reservation.

Domain name availability

After checking the availability of your preferred legal entity name, it’s time to start thinking about a domain name as well. Domain names are more relevant now than ever before, and they are priceless when it comes to establishing your business’s brand and online presence.

Essentially, a domain is a great marketing tool, especially when it comes to pointing people in the direction of your products and services. So is imperative that every business have a domain name to establish their online presence in the age of the Internet.

The challenge begins with securing an available domain name. With millions of websites coming to the forefront each and every day, it’s becoming harder to find an available domain name.

This is why you should use a professional domain checking service like The service is highly recommended since it is professional and helps in a number of ways. For one, is helpful when it comes to filtering results and offering suggestions and alternatives in the event that your desired domain name is already in use by another business.

It is advisable that once you come across a domain name that is available, you immediately register it to avoid it being scooped up by another business entity.

Fictitious business name search

The next part of the process is considering registering a DBA. Irrespective of whether you are a sole proprietor that’s come up with a catchy business name or you want to new alias for your limited liability company; you’ll still need to register DBA in Illinois.

Registering the DBA or fictitious name with the state ensures that you can legally transact within the state. The good news is that registering a DBA is affordable and simple. 

The process of registering your fictitious name depends on your business structure. If you are forming a corporation or LLC, you can register your DBA with the Secretary of State’s office.

Additionally, when registering a fictitious name in Illinois, it must be distinguishable from existing names in the state. So before completing the application, check that the desired name is indeed available by conducting a business search on the Secretary of State’s website.

The fictitious name registration can be completed online by filling in the relevant form and submitting it either in person or by mail. The assumed name is effective from the date of filing and expires on the first day of the anniversary month from the filing date.

It costs $150 for a DBA registration that is valid for five years.


What is a federal tax lien?

In the event that you avoid or neglect to pay a tax debt, the government has a claim legally against your property, and this is known as a federal tax lien. It basically protects the government’s interest through your property, including personal property, financial assets as well as real estate.

How can I keep my business in good standing?

After forming a new business, you’ll need to comply with state requirements in order to keep it in good standing. For one, you need to file annual reports on time and pay the relevant fees. You also need to ensure that your registered agent information is up-to-date at all times and that you are keeping proper financial and corporate records.

What is the purpose of a DBA name?

A trade name which is also referred to as a DBA or “doing business as” name, is a fictitious name that business entities may use to transact. It’s used by business owners who want to conduct business under various other names aside from their legal names. Trade names are also referred to as assumed names.

What is the difference between for-profit corporations and nonprofits?

For-profit corporations are formed to sell products and services and ultimately generate a profit for their owners. Nonprofits are formed to benefit the public and not for profit.

How do I find out if a business entity name is trademarked?

To find out if the company name is trademarked, you’ll need to refer to the Trademark Search on the Secretary of State’s website. Type in the trademark name that you’re looking for, and if there are matching results, then the name is trademarked and therefore off-limits.

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