One of the first and most important steps of any new business is finding the perfect name for your Virginia LLC.
Checking the LLC name availability in Virginia is an important step in the business formation process. It ensures your business name is distinguishable from the names of other Virginia businesses so that you do not violate anyone’s intellectual property rights.
Our Virginia LLC Name Search guide will show you how you can find available business names in Virginia, and how to reserve and register your business name.
Interested in forming an LLC? We recommend using an LLC formation service in order to ensure that you do not accidentally file your business name incorrectly and have your application denied.
How to Search for a Virginia LLC Name
Below are the four steps that you need to follow in order to conduct an LLC name search in Virginia.
Step 1: Follow the Virginia LLC Naming Guidelines
If you’re starting up your LLC in Virginia, your first step is to ensure that the name you’ve chosen complies with the requirements of Virginia’s LLC naming guidelines. These include:
- In Virginia, LLCs must include one of the following designators at the end of their name: “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC.,” or “LC.”
- Words that signify or resemble a financial institution or government agency are prohibited in a Virginia LLC name. These words are not allowed because they may create confusion among members of the public and mislead potential customers into believing that your business has some connection to another company or the government.
- You may also need additional licenses to make use of some restricted words in your LLC name. These words include “bank,” “insurance,” or “trust.” It is advisable to avoid these words completely.
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 Virginia LLC Name Search Availability
The next step is to conduct a Virginia LLC name search. Below are a few ways to do a business name search in Virginia.
- LLC Name Search: Search the Virginia State Corporation Commission Clerk’s business entity search database to check if your chosen 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 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 Virginia LLC Name
After having confirmed the availability of your chosen LLC name, you can submit an Application for Reservation of Business Entity Name form in order to reserve your company’s name with the Virginia Secretary of State.
Remember that your business name is something you will be using for a long time and it should reflect who you are as a company. You don’t want someone else to register the same or similar company name before you have managed to reserve yours.
Reservation of business names lasts for 120 days and can then be renewed for an additional 120-day period. In order to reserve a name, you can file a name reservation form by mail and pay a $10 filing fee to the Corporation Commission Office of the Clerk or submit an application online. The reserved name will then be valid for use in Virginia for 120 days, and you can renew it within 45 days of the expiration date.
Using a Virginia DBA for Your LLC
A DBA or “doing business as” name is also known as a “fictitious name” in Virginia and it’s a name that a person or business uses instead of their legal name. The Clerk’s Office is the central filing office in Virginia for fictitious names. You can file online through the Clerk’s Information System. You can either file the fictitious name online or submit a paper form. You will also need to pay the filing fee of $10.
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 Virginia LLC Trade or Service Mark
Another important step in the process of creating your LLC in Virginia is a trademark search. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design which represents your company and distinguishes it from others. When you register a trademark with the Virginia Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, you will receive the exclusive rights to use the trademark nationwide. Trademark registration is $30.
To avoid potential conflicts down the road you should perform a trademark search before you settle on a name for your LLC. You can also search for registered trademarks at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.
Registering a trade or service mark is not the same as filing a formation document. If you’re registering a business in Virginia, check out the steps on how to form a Virginia LLC.
Virginia Secretary of State Contact Information
Virginia State Corporation Commission
P.O. Box 1197
Richmond, VA 23218
State Corporation Commission
1300 E. Main St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Phone: (804) 371-9733
Virginia LLC Name Search FAQ
Why do I need to do a Virginia LLC name search?
When forming a Virginia 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 Virginia Secretary of State. To search for available LLC names, you can use the Virginia State Corporation Commission Clerk’s business entity search database.
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in Virginia?
You can use the Virginia State Corporation Commission Clerk’s business entity search database to check if your business name is available. You may also contact the Virginia State Corporation Commission via phone at (804) 371-9733 or email at email@example.com for assistance on how to perform a Virginia LLC name search.
Can I renew a Virginia LLC name reservation?
Yes. Reservation of business names lasts for 120 days and can then be renewed for an additional 120-day period. In order to renew a name reservation, you can file a name reservation form by mail and pay a $10 filing fee to the Corporation Commission Office of the Clerk or submit an application online. You can renew it within 45 days of the expiration date.
Is the Virginia Secretary of State LLC name search tool free to use?
Yes. You can use the Virginia State Corporation Commission Clerk’s business entity search database for free to find a name for your LLC. Simply enter the desired name for your LLC. If the name is available, you can then file to reserve it for 120 days.