Whether you’re searching for the perfect business name for your Illinois S Corporation or Illinois C Corporation, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct an Illinois SOS business search, plus business naming rules, assumed names and trademarks.
General Rules for Corporation Names
These rules generally apply to all corporations, wherever they're formed.
The name you choose cannot be in use by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform an Illinois Secretary of State corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your corporation name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of another business in the state. In addition, you cannot use any of the following features in an attempt to differentiate your corporation name from that of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., etc.
- Articles, such as “A,” “An” or “The”
- The conjunction "And" or “&"
- Numbers in place of numerals (or vice versa), e.g., "One World" is the same as "1 World"
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of words
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All corporations must use one of the following in their names, usually at the end of the name: “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Limited” or their abbreviations.
Most states will not allow you to incorporate with names that:
- Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Illinois Department of Labor, Illinois Rangers, Treasury, etc.)
- Suggest affiliation with a federal or state agency or organization
- Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the International Olympic Committee
- Imply a purpose that would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific Rules for Illinois Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some Illinois corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the state's Business Corporations Act 805 ILCS 5/4.05:
- "...shall not contain any word or phrase which indicates or implies that the corporation (i) is authorized or empowered to conduct the business of insurance, assurance, indemnity, or the acceptance of savings deposits; (ii) is authorized or empowered to conduct the business of banking unless otherwise permitted by the Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate pursuant to Section 46 of the Illinois Banking Act; or (iii) is authorized or empowered to be in the business of a corporate fiduciary unless otherwise permitted by the Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate under Section 1-9 of the Corporate Fiduciary Act. The word "trust", "trustee", or "fiduciary" may be used by a corporation only if it has first complied with Section 1-9 of the Corporate Fiduciary Act. The word "bank", "banker" or "banking" may only be used by a corporation if it has first complied with Section 46 of the Illinois Banking Act..."
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the right business name, but essentially, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free name generator.
Illinois Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of the name you want, perform an Illinois business entity search to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the Secretary of State's website to perform a name search.
You can also use our simple and convenient Business Name Search tool, which will search the state's business registry for you.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Illinois corporation name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to ensure you're not infringing is to perform a trademark search through Incfile. If the trademark isn't already in use, you can even register it yourself.
Register a DBA in Illinois
You may do business under a name different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as a trade name, fictitious name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's an assumed name in Illinois. You may decide to use an assumed name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called Great Lake Hospitality, Inc., and you have a chain called Great Lake Tours. You could register an assumed name just for that brand. You'd do that with the Application to Adopt Assumed Name form, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf with our DBA service.
Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.
Register Your Business Name with the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS)
You’ve performed an Illinois Secretary of State Corporation search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need an assumed name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.