Select Your State
LLC Name Search Articles
Choosing a name for your LLC can be tricky. The key to finding the right name is to make sure it reflects your business’s products or services. Having said that, there are many other considerations that you should keep in mind when choosing an LLC name.
You need to comply with additional rules when naming your LLC. The LLC name rules and requirements will vary and ultimately depend on the state where you conduct your business.
To do a proper name search, read our LLC Name Search guide to learn more about the LLC naming guidelines, where to conduct an LLC business name search in your state, and more.
How to Search for an LLC Name
Almost any name will work as long as it isn’t the same or similar to a name already used by another entity in your state, and as long as it complies with your state’s naming guidelines.
Below are common steps you can do to search for an LLC name in your state:
1. Follow Naming Guidelines
The LLC name rules and requirements vary and depend on the state where you conduct your business. As a general rule, LLC names must follow this format: “business name LLC.”
While each state has its own statutes and regulations that cover the naming of LLCs, here are four common guidelines you must follow:
- You must use an LLC designator (e.g., “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” or “Limited Liability Company”) in your LLC’s name.
- You can’t use a designator that could confuse your LLC with another business type (e.g., “Corp,” “Inc.,” “Nonprofit,” etc.).
- Your LLC’s name can’t use words that could confuse it with a government agency (e.g., the FBI, Secretary of State, Real Estate Commission, Department of the Treasury, etc.).
- You can’t use a term like “bank,” “university,” “law center,” “insurance agency” or other restricted words in your name. Securing approval to use terms like these in an LLC name generally requires your business to hold the correct charters or have members with specific licenses, such as a lawyer, doctor, or insurance producer.
- Your name can’t be so similar to another business name that it could confuse customers.
Beyond complying with that format and confirming the availability of your LLC name in your state’s business name database, you’ll also want to choose a name that’ll reflect your business and brand when presenting yourself or your products and services to a client or investor.
A common reason that LLC applications get denied by the state is an issue with the name. If you follow the rules outlined above, you should be in the clear, but if you aren’t 100% sure, then you may want to work with an LLC formation service to ensure you get it done right the first time.
Have a Professional Handle your Filing
More than 72% our readers form their LLC using a professional filing service. Our recommended service provider is:
2. Look up LLC Name Search Availability
A business name should be unique, memorable, and easy to pronounce. It should also stand out in search engine results. Here are a few searches you should make before choosing an LLC name:
- LLC Name Search: Your business’s name must be unique among all existing entities in the state in which you will conduct business. Each state provides business name search databases so you can check if your preferred name is still available.
- Domain Name Search: You’ll also want to ensure your business name is available as a URL. You can register a domain name by using a domain name registry or website builder. If someone already owns the domain name you want, you can make adjustments to your name search until you find one that’s available.
Find a Domain Now
Powered by GoDaddy
While you can also search a business name using social media, the search results that you pull up won’t mean that the business names are exclusive.
3. Reserve an LLC Name
Once you pick a name that meets all the LLC naming guidelines in the state where you plan to establish your new business, you can reserve it by filing the appropriate paperwork with your state. You’ll then receive confirmation from your state that your business name is available for use. The name reservation filing fee for each state varies, ranging from $10 to $75.
As part of registering an LLC name, you will encounter other LLC costs associated with forming an LLC in your state.
Though typically an optional step (except in Alabama), reserving a business name is important, even if you don’t plan to use it right away. Doing so establishes your intent to use it in the future and prevents others from acquiring it.
For example, you can reserve a business name for 60 days in California, whereas you can do so for up to 120 days in Texas. We recommend checking with your state’s filing office to confirm how long a business name reservation lasts in the state where you plan to do business. Some states offer reservation extensions, while others require you to file a new name reservation altogether when it expires.
The state department responsible for overseeing LLC formation varies by state. Massachusetts, for example, has a “Secretary of the Commonwealth” instead of a “Secretary of State.” In Alaska, you must file your LLC formation documents with the State Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.
4. Apply an LLC Trade or Service Mark
Conducting a name search on the federal trademark database will provide insight on whether someone else is already using your desired business name. Once you establish if your LLC name is available to use, you can then apply to register a trade or service mark for your business.
Getting a trade or service mark (called “mark” when combined) makes your LLC name distinguishable in the records of the Secretary of State from the name of any existing business entity, name reservation, or name registration.
A trade or service mark refers to your own brand name, logos, symbols, and slogans. This way, your trade or service mark is exclusive only to you for use and is recognized in the state where you’re planning to transact business.
Filing a trade or service mark is different from filing an application to register a business. If you’re working towards registering an LLC in your state, visit our LLC Formation page for more information.
Where to Search for an LLC Name
To find an existing business entity name in all 50 states, you can use your state’s search databases below to see if your chosen LLC name is available for use in your state.
Why You Need to Do an LLC Name Search
Doing an LLC name search helps you to make well-informed decisions on what to name your LLC. Looking up an LLC name can provide key information about a business already using your desired name, enabling you to choose another name instead.
Having a unique, legally registered name creates credibility where it convinces people to do business with you. This ensures you don’t infringe on other businesses’ legal names or any trademarks they may hold.
LLC Name Search FAQ
How do I check if my chosen LLC name already exists?
To see if your desired LLC name exists, check your home state’s and other states’ business name search records and directories. Begin your search by looking at the website for the state where you will transact your business. Then, search for a domain name for your business using a domain registry, like GoDaddy.
Can I get my LLC name for free?
No. There are filing fee requirements to reserve or register an LLC business name. These fees vary by state.
Can I change my LLC name?
Yes. You can file name change amendments following the applicable provisions in your state.
Can I name my LLC anything?
No. Your LLC name must be unique and must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (i.e., “LLC” or “L.L.C.”). In addition, your LLC name can’t include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (e.g., “FBI,” “Treasury,” “State Department,” etc.). For more on LLC naming guidelines, check out our Naming an LLC page.
Can two LLCs have the same name?
Yes. However, certain requirements must be met to avoid trademark infringement and to distinguish which company is the rightful owner of the business name.
Should you put LLC in your logo?
It depends. You don’t need to put the “LLC” designator in your logo for branding or marketing purposes. You may, however, want to place the LLC designator somewhere near your logo to show your business is a registered legal entity. The main requirement for a logo is that it doesn’t infringe on the rights of any other individual or business.