One of the first and most important steps of any new business is finding the perfect name for your Pennsylvania LLC.
Checking the LLC name availability in Pennsylvania is an important step in the business formation process. It ensures your business name is distinguishable from the names of other Pennsylvania businesses so that you do not violate anyone’s intellectual property rights.
Our Pennsylvania LLC Name Search guide will show you how you can find available business names in Pennsylvania and how to reserve and register your business name.
How to Search for a Pennsylvania LLC Name
Below are the four steps that you need to follow in order to conduct an LLC name search in Pennsylvania.
Step 1: Follow the Pennsylvania LLC Naming Guidelines
The naming of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) should follow the guidelines set forth by the state of Pennsylvania. To ensure that you are in compliance, it is absolutely essential to adhere to these regulations, which require LLC names to be unique and distinguishable from all other entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Furthermore, all names must contain key terms such as “LLC” or “Limited Liability Company.” By incorporating these elements into your LLC name, you can create an engaging yet legally binding business identity that is as powerful as it is meaningful.
Ensure that your chosen name complies with the requirements of Pennsylvania’s LLC naming guidelines as listed below:
- The name of an LLC must contain “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC.”
- The name must be distinct from every other business name registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State: Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
- The name must be distinctive from other entities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- Name cannot include the words “bank,” “trust,” “insurance,” “college,” or any other prohibited word that describes a particular business or legal structure or one that requires state licensing to operate.
- The name cannot imply a connection to a federal, state, or local government entity or agency.
- The name cannot imply it is a trust, cooperative, or nonprofit organization.
- The name should not be considered deceptive, immoral, obscene, or scandalous.
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 Pennsylvania LLC Name Search Availability
The next step is to conduct a Pennsylvania LLC name search. Below are a few ways to do a business name search in Pennsylvania.
- LLC Name Search: Search the Pennsylvania Department of State: Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations through the Business Entity Search to check whether your business name is available. 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 a domain name next if you want to represent your brand or organization with a website. 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 Pennsylvania LLC Name
To form a domestic LLC in the state of Pennsylvania, the Certificate of Organization filing fee is $125.
If you’d like to reserve your Pennsylvania LLC name and officially register at a later point in time, you’ll need to submit a name reservation request. The name reservation filing fee is $70.
You can reserve a business name for a single 120-day reservation period with a Pennsylvania Name Reservation/Transfer of Reservation (Form DSCB:15-208). If you do not form your LLC in time, your name will be released to the public after the 120-day reservation period expires. However, you can reserve the name again.
Using a Pennsylvania DBA for Your LLC
In Pennsylvania, a DBA (“doing business as”) name is known as a fictitious name. A Pennsylvania fictitious name allows you to use a name other than your business’s legal name when operating.
If you want to keep your legal business name but conduct another business activity under a different name, you can usually create a DBA name and legally operate under a new name. The fee for getting a Pennsylvania fictitious name is $70 by filing the Registration of Fictitious Name form [DSCB:54-311].
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 Pennsylvania LLC Trade or Service Mark
Doing a name search on the federal trademark database will tell you whether another business or person has already “marked” your name.
Once you verify the availability of your LLC name and secure it, you can choose to apply for a trade or service mark for your business.
Registering your LLC business “mark” (refers to trade and service marks) with the Pennsylvania Department of State not only distinguishes the goods or services your business provides, but also creates a statewide notice that any entity or person cannot use any of your marks (such as brand name, slogans, and logos).
For these reasons, it is important for an LLC owner to register a mark with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The filing fee for a Pennsylvania Registration of Trademark or Service Mark is $50 per class (“class” means goods and services).
Pennsylvania Department of State Contact Information
Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
401 North Street
206 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Phone: (717) 787-1057
Pennsylvania LLC Name Search FAQ
Why do I need to do a Pennsylvania LLC name search?
When forming a Pennsylvania LLC, you will be required to choose a name that’s unique and not already used by a business. This name should not already be registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State. To search for available LLC names, you can use the Pennsylvania Department of State: Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations Business Entity Search tool.
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in Pennsylvania?
You can use the Pennsylvania Department of State Business Entity Search to check if your business name is available. You may also contact the Pennsylvania Department of State by phone at (717) 787-1057 or through email by sending a message to RA-CORPS@pa.gov.
Can I renew a Pennsylvania LLC name reservation?
In the state of Pennsylvania, you can receive your LLC name for a single 120-day reservation period, after which you should file for an official Certificate of Organization for an LLC. If you don’t register your LLC in that time period, your name will be released to the public.
Is the Pennsylvania Department of State LLC name search tool free to use?
Yes. You can use the Pennsylvania Department of State Business Entity Search tool to find and reserve a name for your LLC. Simply enter the desired name for your LLC. If the name is available, you can reserve it for 120 days before filing for an official LLC Certificate of Organization.