One of the first and most important steps of any new business is finding the perfect name for your North Carolina LLC.
Checking the LLC name availability in North Carolina is an important step in the business formation process. It ensures your business name is distinguishable from the names of other North Carolina businesses so that you do not violate anyone’s intellectual property rights.
Our North Carolina LLC Name Search guide will show you how you can find available business names in North Carolina, and how to reserve and register your business name.
How to Search for a North Carolina LLC Name
Below are the four steps that you need to follow in order to conduct an LLC name search in North Carolina.
Step 1: Follow the North Carolina LLC Naming Guidelines
The initial step is to ensure that the chosen name adheres to the regulations of North Carolina’s LLC naming guidelines as outlined below:
- The name of your LLC must contain one of the following: “limited liability company,” “ltd. liability co.,” “limited liability co.,” “ltd. liability company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.”
- The name cannot suggest an association with a state or federal government agency (e.g., FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- Certain words such as “bank,” “banker,” “banking,” “cooperative,” “co-op,” “mutual,” “trust,” “architect,” “architecture,” “architectural,” “certified public accountant (CPA),” “engineer,” “engineering,” “insurance,” “pharmacy,” “prescription drug,” “drug,” “prescription,” “Rx,” “apothecary,” “Realtor,” “surveyor,” “survey,” “surveying,” and “wholesale” require approval before use in the LLC’s name.
- The name of your LLC must be distinct from any existing business in the state. We will assist in this step in the search for your business name section.
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.
Have a Professional Handle your Filing
More than 72% our readers form their LLC using a professional filing service. Our recommended service provider is:
Step 2: Look Up North Carolina LLC Name Search Availability
The next step is to conduct a North Carolina LLC name search. Below are a few ways to do a business name search in North Carolina.
- LLC Name Search: Search the North Carolina Business Name Search to check if your chosen business name is available. Separate searches are needed for company names and assumed names. There is no fee when using the search. 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 North Carolina LLC Name
If you would like to reserve a name before filing your Articles of Organization, you can submit a North Carolina business name reservation. Name reservations are handled by the Secretary of State Business Registration Division. The fee for reserving a business name is $30.
Name reservations in North Carolina last for 120 days, after which they expire. There is no renewal option.
To reserve a business name online, create an account on the Secretary of State website. To reserve by mail, complete the Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name (Form BE-03). The form can be downloaded from the Business Registration Forms directory. It costs $30 to file the form.
Using a North Carolina DBA for Your LLC
North Carolina calls DBAs (“doing business as”) assumed business names. Having a North Carolina assumed business name lets your LLC use a name other than its official one when conducting operations.
To keep your LLC’s legal business entity name but operate under a different name, creating a DBA is a straightforward process.
File an Assumed Business Name Certificate with the county Register of Deeds. You should use the county where your LLC is located. Although the form must be filed in person or by mail with the local county, every county uses the same form. You can find your county’s local Register of Deeds through the North Carolina Association of Registers of Deeds directory.
The fee for your LLC’s first assumed name registration is $26. This is paid to the County Register of Deeds.
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 North Carolina LLC Trade or Service Mark
To further check if a name for your LLC is already taken, you can search for it on the federal trademark database.
Once you have verified that the name is available and secured it, you can apply for a trade or service mark to improve your LLC’s claim on the name.
Registering your LLC business mark (trade or service mark) with the North Carolina Secretary of State serves to distinguish your goods or services. It also gives notice that others generally cannot use your marks in brand names, slogans, and logos.
Thus, registering a mark with the North Carolina Secretary of State is an important step for all LLC owners to consider.
You can only file for a North Carolina mark by mail or in person (not online). To do so, complete the Application for Registration or Renewal of Trademark or Service Mark. The form is submitted to the Secretary of State Trademark Section. There is a $75 filing fee for registering a mark. The fee for a renewal is $35.
Registering a trade or service mark is not the same as filing a formation document. If you’re registering a business in North Carolina, check out the steps on how to form a North Carolina LLC.
North Carolina Secretary of State Contact Information
Business Registration Division
North Carolina Secretary of State
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626
Business Registration Division
North Carolina Secretary of State
2 South Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27601
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Phone: (918) 814-5400
North Carolina LLC Name Search FAQ
Why do I need to do a North Carolina LLC name search?
When forming a North Carolina 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 North Carolina Secretary of State. To search for available LLC names, you can use the North Carolina Secretary of State Business Name Search. The tool is free to use, but make sure to conduct separate corporation and assumed name searches.
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in North Carolina?
You can use the North Carolina Secretary of State Business Name Search to check if your business name is available. You may also contact the North Carolina Secretary of State with any business name search questions. The phone number is (918) 814-5400, and the email is email@example.com.
Can I renew a North Carolina LLC name reservation?
No. Reserved business names are only good for 120 days in North Carolina, and cannot be renewed. You might be able to re-reserve.
Is the North Carolina Secretary of State LLC name search reservation tool free to use?
No. You can create an account on the Secretary of State website to submit a name reservation. The fee for a reservation is $30.