Searching your Alabama LLC Name
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.
LLC Name Reservation is mandatory in Alabama.
Changes to Alabama LLCs beginning in 2021
Please read Changes to Alabama LLCs in 2021 to get a better idea of all the changes affecting Alabama LLCs.
Typically, when forming an LLC in Alabama it 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.
Now that LLCs 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.
If you need help with your LLC name, please see How to think of a good business name.
Alabama LLC Name Requirements
Before searching your LLC name in Alabama, there are a few requirements you need to be aware of.
LLC designator (ending)
As per Section 10A-1-5.06 of the Alabama Code, your LLC must include one of the following designators at the end of its name:
- Limited Liability Company
- “LLC” is the most commonly used designator
- Your LLC can include a comma or you can leave it out (see comma in LLC name for more information)
Cannot use a Corporation designator
Your Alabama LLC name cannot imply that it is a Corporation. You cannot have the following names or abbreviations anywhere in your LLC name:
LLC name must be distinguishable (unique)
As per Section 10A-1-5.12 of the Alabama Code, the Alabama Secretary of State will not approve an LLC Name Reservation if the LLC name is not distinguishable.
The statute doesn’t define “distinguishable”. It’s up to the LLC examiner to determine if your LLC name is unique and not “confusingly similar” to an existing business.
Below are some examples.
Differences in designators:
Differences in designators don’t create distinguishability. Said another way, the Secretary of State will ignore endings.
For example: If your desired Alabama LLC name is The Bagel Shop LLC, but there already exists The Bagel Shop Inc., your LLC name will not be approved.
However, adding a new word would make it distinguishable, such as The Underground Bagel Shop, LLC.
And as you’ll read below, simply removing the word “The” (and going with Bagel Shop LLC) isn’t enough to create distinguishability.
Singular, plural, and possessive:
Changing a word by making it singular, plural, or possessive doesn’t create distinguishability.
For example: If your desired Alabama LLC name is Shoreline Roaster LLC, but someone already has the name Shoreline Roasters LLC, your LLC name will not be approved.
Similarly, Shoreline Roaster‘s LLC is also not distinguishable.
Shoreline Roasting LLC may be approved, but it’s not a name we recommend using as it could create confusion and the existing company has a strong argument that you are infringing on their name rights.
A, An, The, of, etc.
I think you’re seeing the pattern.
By adding or removing small “filler” words like “a”, “an”, “the”, “of”, etc. is not enough to create distinguishability.
Other things that don’t create distinguishability:
- hyphens, dashes, slashes
- periods, commas
- four vs. 4
Restricted LLC Names in Alabama
LLCs in Alabama cannot use the following words (or their abbreviations) in their names without authorization:
- bank, banking, banker, or trust (Alabama State Banking Department)
- insurance or insurer (Alabama Department of Insurance)
- engineer or engineering (Alabama Board of Engineers & Land Surveyors)
Additionally, any Alabama LLC name using a professional designation (ex: doctor, attorney, veterinarian, etc.) requires a copy of the Members’ license to be submitted to the Secretary of State along with the LLC Name Reservation.
Alabama LLC name lookup
To make sure your LLC name is distinguishable and available for use, you’ll need to search it in the Alabama Name Database.
Visit Alabama’s Business Entity Search page
- 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
Browse the list of existing Alabama businesses and make sure your LLC name is unique
If your desired LLC name is not unique you’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a variation.
If you see “No matches found“, then your desired LLC name is most likely unique and available to use.
If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your desired LLC name is most likely available for use.
Once you find an LLC name that is unique, you can then proceed to the LLC Name Reservation filing.
Again, if you are ready to form your LLC, you can skip the instructions below and just go to the Alabama LLC Certificate of Formation lesson. You can file your LLC Name Reservation and Certificate of Formation online at the same time. Make sure you’ve chosen your Alabama LLC Registered Agent before filing your Certificate of Formation.
If you’re not ready to form your LLC, but still want to file your LLC Name Reservation, then please continue reading below.
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 approval.
Mail filing for Alabama LLC Name Reservation
If you prefer to file the LLC Name Reservation by mail (instead of online), the instructions below on this page will help guide you. You’ll need to:
- Download the paper Name Reservation Request (revised 1/2021)
- The form cannot be handwritten, it must be completed on your computer
- Pay by check, money order, or credit card ($25)
- If paying by check or money order, make payable to “Secretary of State”
- Mail to: Secretary of State, PO Box 5616, Montgomery, AL 36103
Note: If you’re forming a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) you must reserve your PLLC name by mail. You cannot file online. The reason is that you need to include a copy of your professional license.
Online filing for Alabama LLC Name Reservation
- Visit Alabama Secretary of State: Online Services
- Click Name Reservation Menu
- Click “Name Reservation”
- Scroll down and click “Non-Subscriber”
Enter your contact information and your address and 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”. You can use any email address you’d like.
Note: Your contact information and address are private (not on public records) and are not made part of your LLC filing. This is just contact information that the Secretary of State may use in case they have any questions about your filing.
- 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 any state or in any country.
Inside 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.
Type of Reservation: Select “Domestic“.
Type of Entity: Select “Limited Liability Company (LLC)“.
Note: A Foreign LLC is an LLC formed in another state that is registering to do business in Alabama.
Important: As mentioned earlier, if you are ready to form your LLC, please don’t follow the instructions on this page, but follow the Alabama LLC Certificate of Formation lesson (which includes LLC Name Reservation). If you only want to reserve your LLC name, but don’t want to form your LLC now, you can continue with the instructions below.
If you want to continue with only the Name Reservation filing, click “Name Reservation Only”.
The Requestor is the person (or company) that is filing the Alabama LLC Name Reservation.
If this is the same information you entered earlier, you can click the link at the top to copy/paste the information below.
If the Requestor is a different person, enter their information here.
Make sure to select “Organization” or “Individual”.
Review your LLC Name Reservation filing. Check for accuracy and look for any typos.
Click the “Edit” buttons if you need to make any changes.
If all 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.
Important: Make sure to save your LLC Name Reservation Certificate. The download link will only last for 15 days.
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.
How long does an Alabama LLC Name Reservation last?
As per Section 10A-1-5.14 of the Alabama Code, an LLC Name Reservation is good for 1 year (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 (and include your LLC Name Reservation Certificate number). The Certificate of Formation is 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.
Next Step: Choose a Registered Agent
Once you have your LLC Name Reservation Certificate, you can then proceed to the next lesson: Alabama LLC Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
Alabama Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the Alabama Secretary of State: Business Services at 334-242-5324.
Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm Eastern Time.
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.11
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.12
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.13
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.14
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.15
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.16
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.01
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.02
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.03
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.06
Code of Alabama: Section 10A-1-5.09
Alabama Secretary of State: Business Entities – LLCs
Alabama Secretary of State: Domestic LLC Certificate of Formation