Searching your Delaware LLC Name
The first step to forming an LLC in Delaware is to come up with potential LLC names.
Then you’ll need to search the database on the Delaware Division of Corporation’s website to make your LLC name is “distinguishable” and available to use.
Delaware LLC Name Requirements
Before searching your LLC name in Delaware, there are a few requirements you need to know:
1. The abbreviations “LLC” or “L.L.C.” must be used at the end of your name. The abbreviation “LLC” is the most common.
2. Because an LLC is not a Corporation, your desired name cannot use the word “Corporation”, “Incorporated,” or their abbreviations (“Corp.”, “Inc.”).
3. Your desired LLC name must be “distinguishable“. This means it must be different and unique from all other businesses registered in Delaware.
Differences in designators (the identifiers at the end of a business name) and differences in grammar do not create distinguishability.
- LLC, L.L.C, Inc., Corp.
- singular, plural, and possessive
- A, An, The
- and, or, &
- hyphens, slashes, periods, commas
- three vs. 3
The following LLC names are NOT distinguishable:
- Smith Investments, LLC and Smith Investments, Inc.
- Apple Farm, LLC and Apple Farms, LLC
- Print Shop, LLC and The Print Shop, LLC
- Night & Day, LLC and Night and Day, LLC
- Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC and Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Inc
- Three Teachers Consulting, LLC and 3 Teachers Consulting, LLC
A Delaware LLC Name Reservation is not required
You may have read something about needing to reserve your Delaware LLC name ahead of time. That is not true; an LLC name reservation isn’t required in Delaware.
You can simply research your desired LLC name to make sure it’s available. Then file your Certificate of Formation and list your desired LLC name. Again, you don’t need to reserve your LLC name first.
Having said that, if you’ve thought of a Delaware LLC name that you really like, but you’re not ready to file your Certificate of Formation, you can “lock the name up” for 6 months by paying a $75 fee. Please see Delaware Division of Corporations: Name Reservation Applications for more information.
How to lookup a Delaware LLC name?
Delaware has 2 ways to search and make sure your LLC name is distinguishable and available for use.
You can use the “Name Availability Search” which gives you an immediate “yes/no” answer.
Or you can use the “General Information Name Search” to browse existing businesses and determine distinguishability yourself.
Delaware Name Availability Search
Note: You’ll see a lot of language about name reservation, which can be a little confusing. Don’t worry, you don’t need to reserve your LLC name. It is not a requirement.
1. Go to the Name Availability Search page:
Delaware Division of Corporations: Name Availability Search
2. Check off the disclaimer box, agreeing to the terms.
3. In the “Entity Kind” drop down list, select “Limited Liability Company (LLC)”.
4. In the “Entity Ending” drop down list, select your desired ending. The ending “LLC” is the most common.
5. Enter your desired LLC name. Do not enter any endings. (Ex: if your desired LLC name is “ABC Widgets LLC”, just enter “ABC Widgets”).
6. Click the “Search” button (do not press the “Enter” button on your keyboard as it will take you to the wrong page).
If the results shows:
- “The name ‘(your name) LLC’ is available. The cost for this reservation is $75.00”, that means your desired LLC name is available for use. You can just click “No” after the “Do you want to reserve this name?” question.
- “The name is not available for reservation”, that means your desired LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
Delaware General Information Name Search
1. Go to the General Information Name Search page:
Delaware Division of Corporations: General Information Name Search
2. Enter your desired LLC name in the “Entity Name” box. Leave out the ending “LLC” and any punctuation. Capitalization doesn’t matter.
Tip: To be thorough, just enter the first word or two of your LLC name to ensure you see everything that is potentially similar.
Leave the “File Number” box blank.
3. Click “Search” and browse the list of existing Delaware businesses:
- If your desired LLC name does not appear in the search results (or you see “No Record found), that means it’s available for use.
- If your desired LLC name appears in the list exactly as you want it (regardless of the entity type), your desired LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
- If the results show a name that is deceptively similar to your desired LLC name, your desired LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
Delaware LLC name restrictions
New regulations (23 DE Reg 323) amend Section 102 (Business Entity Name Standards and Process) of Title 20 of the Delaware Code. The new regulations attempt to add clarity to business names in Delaware.
We’ve simplified the new regulations below, as well as Section 102, as to how they affect Delaware LLC names.
A Delaware LLC name cannot:
- violate the law
- cause harm to the public
- cause harm to the State of Delaware
- cause harm to Delaware’s business reputation
- discriminate against a protected class (see below)
- facilitate/inspire illegal activity (details below)
- causes public deception or confusion
- be difficult for the Division to administer (i.e. an LLC name with 500 letters)
The Delaware Division of Corporations may reject an LLC name if it discriminates against, disparages, or denigrates any protected class (as per Federal Law) for their:
- sexual orientation
- national origin
- age (40+)
- marital status
- genetic information
The Delaware Division of Corporations may also reject an LLC name if it facilitates, incites, or fosters:
- acts of terrorism or terroristic threats
- offensive touching
- endangers the life or physical safety of an individual
- threatens public safety
- hate crimes, stalking, cyberstalking, bullying or cyberbullying
- narcotic drugs, opioids, or controlled substances
- deadly weapons or dangerous instruments
- obscene language or libel
- and any other criminal act/offense as prohibited under any section of Title 11
If an LLC examiner decides that your Delaware LLC name does not adhere to the rules above, your LLC filing will most likely be rejected.
The rules don’t include specific examples on purpose (except the “difficult to administer” rule). This allows the LLC examiners to apply their own logic and decide if an LLC name will be accepted or rejected.
If you have a desired LLC name that may be questionable, you can call the state and ask their opinion (although this is not an official response). You can also file your Certificate of Formation with the questionable LLC name. If the state rejects your filing, you’ll get a refund and be allowed to re-file using a different LLC name.
If a questionable LLC name is approved, however, please keep in mind that the state has the authority (as per Section 18-112(a) of Title 6) to cancel your Certificate of Formation at any time due to “abuse or misuse of its limited liability company powers, privileges or existence“. For this reason, we recommend creating a Delaware LLC name that clearly doesn’t break any of the rules listed above.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
Contact Info: Division of Corporations
If you have any questions, you can contact the Delaware Division of Corporations at 302-739-3073. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm Eastern Time.
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 Delaware.
Delaware Division of Corporations: How to Form a New Business Entity
Delaware Division of Corporations: Name Reservation Applications
Delaware Division of Corporations: Frequently Asked Questions
Delaware LLC Act: Section 18-102
Delaware LLC Act: Section 18-103