Alabama LLC Name Reservation & Business Name Search – 2024 Guide

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Searching your Alabama LLC Name

A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the Alabama business name rules.

This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.

LLC Name Reservation is mandatory in Alabama

The first step to forming an LLC in Alabama is to search your desired LLC name and file an LLC Name Reservation.

Most states don’t require an LLC Name Reservation be filed before an LLC is formed, but Alabama does.

Changes to Alabama LLC filings

Before 2021, forming an Alabama LLC used to be a 2-step process: You would first file an LLC Name Reservation and then file a Certificate of Formation. This is no longer required (unless you want to file your LLC by mail).

Now that Limited Liability Companies can be formed online in Alabama, you can actually file the LLC Name Reservation and Certificate of Formation together.

The instructions below on this page are for two things:

  • Searching your LLC name to make sure it’s available
  • Filing an LLC Name Reservation

If you are ready to form your Alabama LLC, we recommend only searching to see if your LLC name is available, but not actually filing the LLC Name Reservation by following the instructions on this page. Instead, head over to our Alabama LLC Certificate of Formation lesson where you can file the LLC Name Reservation and Certificate of Formation together online.

If you are not ready to form your Alabama LLC, you can search your LLC name to see if it’s available and file the LLC Name Reservation (which lasts for 1 year). Then when you’re ready to form your LLC, you can file the Certificate of Formation online and enter your Name Reservation ID Number.

Alabama LLC name

If you file your Alabama LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another Alabama business entity – or that doesn’t meet the Alabama name rules – your filing may be rejected.

The first step to checking if your LLC name passes is to make sure your name is not already taken by another business.

You can do this using the Alabama Business Entity Search. And you need to do this because two business entities in the state can’t have the same name or be too similar.

The second step is to make sure your LLC name follows the Alabama Secretary of State’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.

And the last step is to either file a Name Reservation Request, or to proceed with filing your LLC Certificate of Formation & Name Reservation.

How do I search the Alabama business entity name database?

You can use the business entity search on the state website to search your business name against the existing business entities registered in Alabama.

Note: This tool is sometimes called the Alabama Business Name Search or the Alabama Business Entity Search. They both refer to the same website and get you the same search records.

Here’s a video explaining the process.
Step-by-step instructions are below the video.

Visit the Alabama Business Entity Search page:

Go to the Alabama Business Entity Search: Alabama Secretary of State: Business Entity Search By Entity Name

  • Name: Enter your desired LLC name. Leave out the ending “LLC” and any punctuation. Capitalization doesn’t matter. Enter the first few words or the start of the word of your name for best results (unless you have a single word for your name, then just enter that).
  • Type: Leave on “All Records”
  • Place of Formation: Leave on “All Records”
  • Principal City: Leave blank
  • Status: Leave on “All Records”
  • Click the “Search” button

Screenshot with instructions on how to use the Alabama Business Entity Search

How to interpret the Alabama LLC search results

Screenshot of sample results from the Alabama Business Entity Search
Example of Alabama Business Entity Search results

If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your Limited Liability Company name is available for use.

  • Let’s keep using the example above. If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the only similar names you saw were “Riverwalk Apartments” and “Riverwalk Studio Starters”, then your name should be available.

If no results show up (the screen will say “No matches found“), that means your LLC name is unique and it should be available for use. To be safe, run your search again using only part of your LLC name (to double-check that there are no similar names).

  • For example, search just the word “Riverwalk” instead of Riverwalk Studios.

If your exact LLC name appears in the list of search records, your LLC name is not available for use because another Alabama business entity is already using it.

If the results show a name that is very similar to yours, your LLC name may not be available for use.

  • If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the search results show a “Riverwalk Studio”, then your name is not available.

What if my desired LLC name isn’t available?

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different name for your LLC.

Tip: Wait until your LLC is approved before you apply for your LLC EIN Number or purchase any other marketing materials. This way you don’t spend money on business supplies you can’t use because your business name isn’t available.

When in doubt, call the Secretary of State

You can call the Alabama Secretary of State to confirm that your LLC name is available.

Not all states offer this service, but the representatives in Alabama will help you use the Alabama Business Entity Search to figure out whether your business name is available.

The Business Services Division phone number is 334-242-5324. Their hours are Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm Eastern Time.

Alabama Limited Liability Company Name Requirements

As per the Alabama Business and Nonprofit Entities Code, there are a few rules and requirements for naming a Alabama business entity that you need to know.

Do I have to use a comma in my LLC name?

No, you don’t have to. You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. Both versions are accepted by the Secretary of State.

For example: If your desired business name is Grandpa Joe’s, you can file it as:

  • Grandpa Joe’s LLC
  • Grandpa Joe’s, LLC

Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in Alabama.

What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?

Your Alabama LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • Limited Liability Company

The following designators are not allowed

Your Alabama LLC can’t make itself sound like an Alabama Corporation or any other business entity besides an LLC.

The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:

  • Inc.
  • Corp.
  • Incorporated
  • Corporation

What words are not allowed in my Alabama LLC name?

Your Alabama LLC name can’t contain words and abbreviations that are restricted by law.

For example, you can’t make your LLC name sound like it’s a bank, part of the government or a government agency, or anything else that misleads the public.

You also can’t use words that are reserved for licensed professionals. These vary by state, but some common examples are accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, and engineers.

In Alabama, you must get a letter of approval (or a license) in order to use these words:

  • architect
  • engineer
  • engineering and landscaping
  • doctor
  • attorney
  • insurance
  • bank
  • trust

For more information about restricted words for an Alabama business entity, please see the Name Reservation Request form.

Your Alabama business name must be distinguishable (unique)

When you search the Alabama Secretary of State Business Entity Search, you will compare your desired LLC name to existing businesses in the state.

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different business name. As per Section 10A-1-5.12 of the Alabama LLC Act, your LLC can’t have the same name (or too similar a name) to another business in Alabama.

Below are rules and examples of LLC names that are not distinguishable.


Differences in designators (endings) don’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Jake’s Fishing Company LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the Alabama Business Name Search results:

  • Jake’s Fishing Company, Inc.
  • Jake’s Fishing Company, Corp.
  • Jake’s Fishing Company, L.L.C.

Source: Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.03

Filler Words

Adding non-meaningful or filler words (the, a, an, and, &, of, or) won’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Pleasant Farms LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • The Pleasant Farms LLC
  • A Pleasant Farm Inc.
  • Pleasant and Farms L.L.C.
  • Pleasant & Farms Corp

Plural or Singular Words and Possessive Words

Adding a letter “s” to make a word plural or possessive doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Paulo’s Balloons LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Paulos Balloons LLC
  • Paulo’s Balloon Inc.
  • Paulos Balloon, L.L.C.

Numerals or Spelled Out Numbers

Using numerals (like 5 or 101) instead of spelling out the number (like “five” or “one hundred and one”) doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is 25 Stars LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Twenty-Five Stars LLC
  • Twenty 5 Stars Inc.

What if my Alabama business name is rejected?

If you file your Name Reservation Request or your Alabama Certificate of Formation (the document that creates your Alabama LLC) and the business name is not available, don’t panic. The state will notify you and tell you why your filing was rejected.

You will just need to file again with a variation of your LLC name or a different LLC name.

How to file an Alabama LLC Name Reservation

You can file an LLC Name Reservation by mail or online.

If you file by mail, your LLC Reservation will be approved in 4-7 days and the fee is $25.

If you file online, your Alabama LLC will be approved instantly and the fee is $28.

LLC University® recommendation:

We recommend the online filing as it’s much easier to complete, approval time is instant, and it’s a lot easier to download your LLC name approval.

How to file an Alabama Name Reservation by mail

You’ll need to:

  • Download the paper Name Reservation Request
  • Type the form on your computer (don’t print it out and handwrite)
  • Prepare a check or money order for $25 payable to “Secretary of State
  • Or pay by credit or debit card by completing the Credit Card Authorization form
  • Mail the Name Reservation Request and your payment to:

Secretary of State
Business Services
PO Box 5616
Montgomery, AL 36103

How to file an Alabama Name Reservation online

Get started:

  • Go to the Alabama Secretary of State Online Services Name Reservation Menu
  • Click “Name Reservation”
  • Click “Continue to Application”

Contact Information

Enter your contact information (phone and email address) and your address. Click Continue.

The email address you enter here is where the state will send your LLC Name Reservation Certificate. This email address doesn’t have to be a “business email”. Just enter your best email address.

Don’t worry: this contact information doesn’t go on public record. The Secretary of State will use this to contact you with questions about your filing, and to send your approval documents.

  • The address can be any address you’d like.
  • It doesn’t have to be an address used on your LLC filing.
  • The address can be located in Alabama, or even in the US.

Name Reservation

In the New Name Reservation box, enter your desired LLC name in the Name Requested field.

Enter your desired LLC name exactly as you would like it, including your preferred capitalization. Make sure to include the designator (like “LLC”).

Don’t enter anything in the Reservation ID box in the Existing Name Reservation section. You would only use this if you were renewing an already filed Name Reservation.


Type of Reservation

Select “Domestic“.

Type of Entity

Select “Limited Liability Company (LLC)“.

Note: A Foreign LLC is an LLC that’s already formed in another state that is registering to do business in Alabama.

Legal Name
The name you entered on the last page should appear in the Legal Name field. You don’t need to do anything additional here.

Click Continue. The system will automatically check whether your desired business name is available.

If your LLC name is available, you will proceed to the next screen (Filing Online).

If it’s not available for use in Alabama, you’ll see an error message. Enter a new name in the Legal Name field and try again.

Filing Online

If you want to continue with only the Name Reservation filing, click “Name Reservation Only”.

If you’re ready to file your Alabama LLC now:

  1. Click “File of Formation Data”
  2. Go to our Alabama LLC Certificate of Formation lesson for step-by-step instructions on completing the filing


The Requestor is the person that is filing the Alabama LLC Name Reservation. Select “Individual“.

If the Requestor has the same contact information as what you entered earlier, you can click the link at the top to copy/paste the information.

If the Requestor is a different person, enter their information here.

Click Continue to proceed.


Review your Alabama LLC Name Reservation filing. Check for accuracy and look for any typos.

Click the Edit buttons if you need to make any changes.

Once everything looks good, check the box at the bottom and click Continue.


Enter your contact information and billing information and submit your online payment.

Congratulations! Your Alabama LLC Name Reservation has been successfully submitted to the state.

Your Alabama LLC Name Reservation will be approved instantly and you’ll receive a link to download your Alabama LLC Name Reservation Certificate.

Alabama LLC Name Reservation approval time (online filing)

When filing your Alabama LLC Name Reservation online, it will be processed and approved instantly.

You will receive a download link via email within a few minutes. It will be sent to the email address you entered in the “Contact Information” section.

If you don’t download the LLC Name Reservation Certificate within 15 days or you lose it, you’ll need to order a duplicate copy and pay $28 again.

We recommend saving a copy on your computer and printing out a few physical copies as well.

Alabama Business Name FAQs

Do I need a name reservation in Alabama?

Yes. Unlike most states, Alabama requires a name reservation before you form an LLC in the state.

You must either file the Name Reservation Request and use the name reservation number when filing your LLC Certificate of Formation, or complete the Name Reservation at the same time as your Certificate of Formation online filing.

How long does an Alabama LLC Name Reservation last?

An Alabama LLC Name Reservation lasts for one year.

As per Section 10A-1-5.14 of the Alabama Code, an LLC Name Reservation is good for 365 days from the date the LLC Name Reservation was approved. After that, it will expire.

So you have 1 year to file your Alabama LLC Certificate of Formation (the document that officially creates your Alabama LLC).

If 1 year has passed since your LLC Name Reservation was approved, that reservation has expired. You’ll need to file another LLC Name Reservation, but you can use the same name if you’d like.

Does Alabama require LLC in the name?

Yes. Your Alabama LLC name must contain one of the allowable designators at the end. The designators allowed in Alabama are:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • Limited Liability Company
Does my Alabama LLC need a DBA?

No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your business entity in Alabama.

A DBA (known as a Trademark in Alabama) lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Certificate of Formation).

If you want your LLC to do business under a name that’s different from its true and legal name, you have to file a Trademark Application online or by mail. And you’ll pay a fee of $30 to the Secretary of State. You can learn more about the process here: Alabama Trademarks.

If you are going to file a Trademark for your Alabama LLC, it must also be distinguishable from existing business names in the state.

There is no limit to the number of Trademarks or Trade Names an LLC can have.

For more information, please see Does my LLC need a DBA?

When would my LLC use a DBA?

Let’s say you form an LLC called Skytree Cruise Lines LLC, but you also want to use a friendlier, catchy name, like Sky Cruises. In this case, your LLC would need to file a Trademark Registration to use the name Sky Cruises.

If you don’t file a Trademark Registration for a different name, you can only use your legal entity name of Skytree Cruise Lines LLC.

Similarly, if you want to do business under the name Skytree Cruise Lines, just without the letters “LLC” in the name, you will need to file a Trademark for Skytree Cruise Lines.

How do I get a business domain name?

Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to check if your domain name is available before forming your LLC.

You can search for available domain names with GoDaddy:

What does “distinguishability” mean?

Each business entity name must be “distinguishable upon the records” of the Secretary of State.

This means that no two businesses can operate with the same exact name. Said another way, if a business already exists with your desired LLC name, you can’t register your LLC with that name.

For example, let’s say you want to form an LLC called Camellia Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Camellia Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing Alabama Corporation, it is not distinguishable. You can’t use it and must choose another name.

How do I come up with a business name?

Business names are important for branding and recognition. The name of your Alabama LLC can be your company’s brand name, but it doesn’t have to be (please see the FAQ about DBAs above). Either way, picking a good LLC name is an important decision.

Here are some quick tips for coming up with business names:

  1. First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
  2. Then list out as many business names as you can think of. Don’t edit or analyze them. Just get as many names on the page as you can.
  3. Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
  4. Next, set the list aside. Do something else, like go for a walk or get groceries, or sleep on it for the night. Then come back and review the list of names. As you go through it, write down additional ideas and variations.
  5. Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
  6. Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
  7. The best business name will often “rise off the page” and present itself. If it doesn’t, you can try this trick: Close your eyes and count to 10. When you get to 10, you must choose a name. When you open your eyes, force yourself to make a decision. Sometimes we know the best name deep in our subconscious, and this trick can help it come out. Trust yourself and go with what feels best.

For more tips, please see How to Choose a Business Name or check out TRUIC’s Business Name Generator.

Can I use the name of another Alabama entity?

No. You can’t use the same name as another Alabama business.

And it doesn’t matter what entity type it is – your LLC can’t have the same entity name as another corporation, LLC, or any other entity type.

You can’t use another business’s name even if the entity is in “delinquent” status on the Alabama Secretary of State website.

But if the business entity is dissolved, they no longer have rights to that name. This means you can form an LLC with the same name.

How do I change my LLC name?

You can change your LLC’s name later by filing an Amendment form with the Secretary of State.

We have step-by-step instructions on how to change an LLC name in Alabama.

How to start an LLC in Alabama?

Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Alabama:

  1. Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
  2. Choose who will be your Alabama Registered Agent
  3. File the Alabama LLC Certificate of Formation
  4. Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
  6. Open an LLC bank account
  7. Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Alabama

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

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12 comments on “Alabama Name Reservation”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. Regarding registration of an engineering LLC in Alabama:
    I have received a COA for my company from ABELS. Does this step replace the name reservation? I attempted to reserve a name but cannot due to “engineering” in the name.

    • Hi Laura, in your case, use of the word “engineering” is allowed, but since you’re forming a Professional LLC (PLLC), you have to file your name reservation through mail instead of online. You likely filed online the first time and that’s why you had an issue. You can find the paper form on this page. Just mail that along with your COA from ABELS. Hope that helps!

  2. If I missed the 15 day window for downloading my name verification, what can I do to get that document?

  3. The name I would like to use is:
    Fine Lines
    But I would like the advertisement and on cards be
    Fine Lines
    Permanent Cosmetic Artistry by Ramona

    My question is do I have to put the whole thing as my business name or do I just use the Fine Lines.

    What do you recommend?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Ramona, apologies for the slow reply. In this case, I’d treat the LLC name (“Fine Lines LLC”) different than the tagline you’ll use in marketing (“Permanent Cosmetic Artistry by Ramona”). Making your LLC name “Fine Lines Permanent Cosmetic Artistry by Romona LLC” will drive you crazy every time you need to enter it down or explain it via phone. Hope that helps :)

  4. Can I change the name I reserved for my LLC if I have not filed the paperwork? I found a different name that I like better

    • Hey Brian, yes, you can change your name reservation. You have two options. You can either file a ‘Correction to Name Certificate Request Form’ (by mail or online), or you can just abandon the existing name reservation and file a new one. There may be a small difference in price depending on how you originally filed the Alabama LLC name reservation. Which method did you use to file and how much did you pay?

  5. Can I use a copyrighted name to help get the LLC Certificate of Formation, instead of a Name Reservation?

    • Hey Supreme, there is no such thing as a copyrighted name, so I’m not 100% sure what you mean. There is no way to avoid the Name Reservation. It’s a required component of the Alabama Certificate of Formation. If you can re-phrase your question and add some more details, I can help clarify. Thanks.

      • My apologies, I meant can I use a name that I already have trademarked before I filed the LLC Formation?

        • I believe you are asking if you can use an existing trademark as your LLC name. The answer is yes. After your LLC is formed, you may also want to consider an Assignment of Trademark, transferring ownership of the trademark from yourself personally to the LLC.

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