Welcome, Future Entrepreneurs! If you are on this page, it means you have already decided to register an LLC for your business. But you are still unsure what you’re going to call it? You may have shortlisted a couple of names for the LLC but you’re not sure whether they’re available or not?
Let me help you out. In this guide, I’ve laid down step by step instructions on how you can check for LLC name availability for free.
At the bottom of the post, I have also shared points you should keep in mind while choosing a name for your LLC.
LLC Name Search
The first step in registering your LLC, is to check if the desired name is available for use or not.
Unlike a domain name (which are registered globally), LLC names are registered and reserved within the state. What this means is, LLCs with same names can operate in various states, provided none of them have filed a trademark for the name.
To check for LLC name availability, you need to search through the state’s Secretary of State (SOS) database.
Most of the states allow you to search by – name, and keyword. Some of the states even allow you to do a wildcard search.
Let’s say you are looking to register ‘Mosby Sports LLC’ in Texas.
So this what you should do,
1) Search ‘Mosby Sports’ (without the LLC) on the SOS database.
- If no result shows up, then you are good to go. Proceed to the next step.
- If a similar name exists, you need to think of another name.
2) Next, search for only the word ‘Mosby’.
In the search results check for any business name which is related to sports.
For example – if there was a name like ‘Mosby Sports Equipment’s LLC’ registered already, it would be better to look for another name.
State-Wise LLC Name Availability Search
As mentioned above LLC name availability has to be checked on the individual state level. From the table below, select the state where you are looking to form your LLC.
On the next page, you can find details on how to conduct the search along with the state’s LLC naming requirement.
To File for Name Reservation or Directly Register
So, now that you have finally decided the name for your LLC and it is available. Now you have two options, depending on how prepared are you with your documents:
- File for name reservation – You can temporarily block the name for a period of 30 days to 6 months. During that time, you can get your documents in order for filing.
- Directly register the LLC – If all the documents ready, you can directly proceed with registering your LLC.
General thumb Rule while naming your LLC
The name you select for your LLC should be unique and not deceptively similar to any LLC already registered in the state.
Differences in the end designators (LLC, Co, LC, Limited Liability company) does not constitute distinguishability.
Lile, following business names are not unique and distinguishable-
- Rock Media LLC vs The Rock Media LLC
- Mary Landscaping LLC vs Mary’s Landscaping LLC
- Toby & Jade Restaurant LLC vs Toby and Jade Restaurant LLC
- 3 Star Media LLC vs Three Star Media LLC
- Tony Music LLC vs Tony Music Limited Liability Company
Ultimately, the final decision of the uniqueness of the name is taken by the Secretary of State.
Certain words like banks, insurance, architecture etc, require permission from concerned authorities. LLC consisting of such words cannot be directly registered.
The name should not violate any state or national trademarks-
Examples of business names which violate trademarks:
- Google LLC vs The Google LLC
- Yahoo LLC vs Yahoo Web Media LLC
The name should adhere to state’s LLC naming convention-
Each state mandates certain rules for naming the LLC. Most of the states require the business name to end with ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘LLC’.
However, abbreviations rules vary from state to state. Some of the abbreviations that can be used are – LLC, L.L.C., LC, L.C., Co etc.
Selecting a name for LLC which is unique, distinguishable and brandable is very important. You do not want to be in a situation where your business is prospering but out of the blue, you receive a trademark infringement notice.
Spend some time and get rock solid legally safe name for your LLC. When in doubt, it’s better to let the expert do it for you.
Last Updated: 30/11/2018