One of the first and most important steps of any new business is finding the perfect name for your Maryland LLC.
Checking the LLC name availability in Maryland is an important step in the business formation process. It ensures your business name is distinguishable from the names of other Maryland businesses so that you do not violate anyone’s intellectual property rights.
Our Maryland LLC Name Search guide will show you how you can find available business names in Maryland, and how to reserve and register your business name.
How to Search for a Maryland LLC Name
Below are the four steps that you need to follow in order to conduct an LLC name search in Maryland.
Step 1: Follow the Maryland LLC Naming Guidelines
The first step is to ensure that your chosen name complies with the requirements of Maryland’s LLC naming guidelines as listed below:
- Your name needs to include the phrase, “limited liability company” or an abbreviation of the term, either “LLC,” “L.C.,” “LC,” or “L.L.C.”
- Your business name needs to be accurate to your business’s purpose. It cannot imply that your LLC is for a purpose other than what your articles of organization state.
- You shouldn’t use a business name with words that could be confused with a government agency like the FBI or other state departments.
- Avoid using names with restricted words, like “University” or “Bank” unless you have completed the appropriate paperwork to be identified as one of those specific organizations.
- Make sure your business name can be told apart from others in your state. It should be distinguishable from them — we’ll help you with this in our next section covering your business name search.
Selecting a name is just one of the several requirements when forming an LLC. To avoid improper or incomplete LLC formation documents, we recommend using the assistance of an LLC formation service.
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Step 2: Look Up Maryland LLC Name Search Availability
The next step is to conduct a Maryland LLC name search. Below are a few ways to do a business name search in Maryland.
- LLC Name Search: Search the Maryland Taxable Entity Search to check if your chosen business name is available. There is no search fee. You may also try typing your business or trademark on any search engine to check businesses with similar names. This will also ensure your trademark is unique, meets the state’s requirements, and frees you from any legal hassles in the future.
- Domain Name Search: If your business name is still available, you must register for a domain name. Having a URL that matches your business name is important since this is how your potential and existing clients can find your business.
To determine the availability of your chosen URL, use a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy.
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Note: While you can use social media to search for business names to determine your desired name, the search results might not give you useful insight if your desired business name is available and exclusive for use.
Step 3: Reserve Your Maryland LLC Name
To reserve your business name in Maryland, you need to obtain a name reservation form and submit it to the Maryland Secretary of State. You can do this online or by mail. There is a fee of $25 to get your business name. If you want, you can pay an expedited fee for faster service.
Keep in mind that names can be reserved for up to 30 days through the Business Express Portal available on the Department of Assessments and Taxes website.
Using a Maryland DBA for Your LLC
In Maryland, a DBA (“doing business as”) is the only way that you can have a different business name while working as a sole proprietor or general partnership. For LLCs, a DBA lets you operate with a brand name that doesn’t necessarily use “Inc.” or “LLC” at the end of the legal name. This is great if you want to have a business name that is simpler in daily use.
Your DBA name is called your trade name in Maryland. The fee for getting a Maryland DBA (trade name) is $25.
LLC owners sometimes choose to brand their businesses with a DBA. Most sole proprietors and general partnerships use a DBA to create a brand other than their surnames.
Step 4: Register a Maryland LLC Trade or Service Mark
Complete a search using the federal trademark database to see if someone has already “marked” your preferred business name. If they have, you’ll need to select a different name.
If you see that your LLC or business name has not been marked or reserved, you can reserve it yourself. Then, you can apply for a trade or service mark to use for your business.
Registering your business’s mark (your trade or service mark) with the state lets you distinguish the difference between the goods and services your business provides as well as make sure no other business can use your marks. Marks can include things like business slogans, brand names, and logos.
You need to file your registration with the Maryland Secretary of State. Read through this Trademarks and Servicemarks booklet to learn more about the requirements to get yours.
Registering a trade or service mark is not the same as filing a formation document. If you’re registering a business in Maryland, check out the steps on how to form a Maryland LLC.
Maryland Secretary of State Contact Information
Maryland Secretary of State
16 Francis St., #1
Annapolis, MD 21401
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Certification hours: 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Phone: (410) 974-5521
Maryland LLC Name Search FAQ
Why do I need to do a Maryland LLC name search?
When forming a Maryland LLC, you will be required to choose a name. This name must be unique and available for use, and should not already be registered with the Maryland Secretary of State. To search for available LLC names, you can use the Maryland Business Entity Search tool on the Secretary of State website. There is no fee for using this tool, so you can search as much or often as needed.
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in Maryland?
You can use the Maryland Business Entity Search tool to check if your business name is available. You may also contact the Maryland Secretary of State via phone at (410) 974-5521. The Secretary of State also has an email that you can use, which is dlWebmaster_sos@maryland.gov. By phone or email, you can get assistance with performing your Maryland LLC name search if needed.
Can I renew a Maryland LLC name reservation?
Yes. If you need more time to work on your LLC name reservation, you can re-reserve the name using the Corporate Name Reservation Application for Re-Reservation. This re-registration comes with another $25 fee.
Is the Maryland Secretary of State LLC name search reservation tool free to use?
Yes. You’re able to search for your preferred LLC business name in Maryland’s Business Entity Search. This search costs nothing and allows you to search by business name or department ID. The Maryland Business Express page has everything needed to search for a name and reserve it for your business. Remember, there is a $25 fee for reserving your business name.