Searching your District of Columbia LLC name
The first step to starting a DC LLC is to compare your desired LLC name against the names of existing businesses registered in the District of Columbia and make sure it’s available for use.
(This is known as being “distinguishable upon the records” with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, aka the DCRA)
Additionally, your District of Columbia LLC name must follow certain requirements and restrictions in order to comply with DC law, known as the DC Business Organizations Code.
If you’re familiar with the process of forming an LLC in the District of Columbia and just want to jump into the searches, the business name search link is below.
District of Columbia Business Search:
District of Columbia LLC Name Requirements & Restrictions
Comma in LLC Name
You can form your LLC name with or without a comma. Both are accepted by the DCRA.
For example: If your desired District of Columbia LLC name is “Smith Consulting Group”, you can file it as either:
- Smith Consulting Group LLC
- Smith Consulting Group, LLC
Instead of having “LLC” as your designator (suffix), there are also options available in the District of Columbia.
Your District of Columbia LLC Name Must Include the Proper Designator
Your LLC must contain one of the following designators at the end of its name:
- Ltd. Co.
- Ltd. Company
- Limited Co.
- Limited Company
- Limited Liability Company
Tip: If you’re not sure which designator to use, “LLC” is the most common. It’s also the easiest to recognize.
District of Columbia LLC Name Restrictions
Your District of Columbia LLC name cannot imply that it is a Corporation or any other type of business entity besides an LLC.
You cannot use the following words or designators anywhere in your LLC name:
- Non Profit
- Non Profit Corporation
Your LLC will need approval from the applicable government agency before being allowed to use any of the following words in your LLC name:
- Credit Union
Additionally, your District of Columbia LLC name cannot contain a word, phrase, abbreviation that is prohibited or restricted by any other District laws.
As per the DCRA:
“An entity name shall not be the same as, or so deceptively similar to, the name of any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States or the District of Columbia so as to mislead the public or cause confusion.”
District of Columbia LLC Name Must Be Distinguishable
Your DC LLC name must be distinguishable upon the records of the DCRA.
This means that your LLC name must be unique when compared to existing businesses registered in the District.
District of Columbia Business Search Page
You can search your desired DC LLC name against the existing businesses registered in the District by using the business search page.
DCRA Business Search Page:
How to Search an LLC Name in the District of Columbia
1. It’s best to search only part of your LLC name to ensure that you see everything that is potentially similar. For example, if your desired District of Columbia LLC name is “Quick Delivery Services LLC“, it’s best to just search the word “Quick“, instead of the full name.
Why? This way, if there is a “Quickest Delivery Services” or “Quick Delivery Service“, you’ll see them; which is important, since they will be confusingly similar to your name and if you submitted your LLC filing, it would be rejected. You’ll also want to come up with a more unique LLC name to make your business stand out.
2. For “Search type“, select “Entity Name“.
3. For “Search depth“, select “Starts With“.
4. Leave the “Entity Status” option as-is.
5. Leave out the designator, such as “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, etc. when doing your searches.
6. Leave out any punctuation like commas, periods, apostrophes, quotes, and hyphens.
7. The District of Columbia name database ignores capitalization so you can search LLC names using uppercase or lowercase letters.
Understanding the District of Columbia Business Name Search Results
If the results show names that are not too similar to yours, then your desired District of Columbia LLC name is available for use.
If no search results appear below, this means your desired District of Columbia LLC name is unique and available for use.
If your desired LLC name already appears in the list exactly as you want it, your desired District of Columbia LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to come up with a new name or unique variation that makes your LLC name distinguishable.
If the results show a name that is deceptively similar to yours, your desired District of Columbia LLC name will likely be rejected. We recommend coming up with a new name or unique variation that makes your LLC name distinguishable.
Do I need a DBA (Trade Name) for my District of Columbia LLC?
No, you are not required to register a DBA (known as a “Trade Name” in DC) for your LLC.
You only need to do this if you want your LLC to operate and do business under a name different from how it was legally filed (called its “true name”).
Most DC LLCs just do business under their true and legal name.
For more information, please see the following article: Do I need a DBA for my LLC?
Brainstorming LLC Name Ideas
There is a good chance that the name of your DC LLC will be the name of your brand, and picking a good name is an important component to your business’ success.
Check out our article on how to choose a business name. Then write down as many LLC names as you can think of. Set the piece of paper aside and sleep on it. The following day, skim through the list and circle your top 2-3 names. Add any more names if you’ve thought of them.
Then sleep on it one more night. The following day, the best name for your District of Columbia LLC usually just “presents itself”.
Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs
If you have any questions, you can contact the DCRA at 202-442-4432. Their hours are 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday (except on Thursday, when the hours are 9:30am to 4:30pm).
Next Step: District of Columbia LLC Registered Agent
After you search your desired District of Columbia LLC name and make sure it’s available, you’re ready to select your LLC’s Registered Agent. We’ll discuss this in the next lesson: District of Columbia Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
DCRA: Business Registration FAQs
DC Business Center: Business Trade Name
DC Business Center: Definition of Corporate Name
DC Business Center: Do I Need to Register a Trade Name?
DC Business Center: Trade Name vs Corporate Name
DC Code – Section 29-103.01
DC Code – Section 29-103.02
DC Code – Section 29-103.03
DC Code – Section 29-103.04
DC LLC Act