Name

LLC Name Search

**Short Answer: Choosing an LLC name has certain state requirements and restrictions. Your LLC name must also be “distinguishable”.**


Video Transcript:

A well-chosen LLC name can be essential to your business success. Your name will last for many years and it will become an important part of your brand, your company’s reputation. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when you’re brainstorming options for your LLC name. Make your LLC name easy to spell, you want to make sure that people can find you when they’re looking for you. Make your LLC name short, shorter names are easier for people to remember and also makes it easier for people to refer you to their friends. Make your LLC name have a positive connotation, leave people with a good feeling when they hear about your business. In order to make sure your desired LLC name is available for use, you will need to search it against the existing companies on your State’s database. We will walk you through the details step-by-step in another lesson. You need to know if your name is taken so that you can avoid infringing upon someone else’s name rights, differentiate your business from existing companies, and make sure your desired LLC name is available for use before you file your documents. There are a few requirements you need to know of when choosing your LLC name. Your LLC name must end with the words, Limited Liability Company or the abbreviations LLC or L.L.C. The abbreviation LLC is the most common. For example, Joe wants to start a company by the name, Joe’s Landscaping Services, since he is forming an LLC, he must use the name Joe’s Landscaping Services LLC. Again using the abbreviation LLC or the full word is a requirement when forming an LLC. There are also a few restrictions to be aware of when choosing your LLC name. Your LLC name cannot imply that it is a corporation, you’re not allowed to use the words corporation or incorporated or Corp or Inc anywhere in your LLC name. Let’s look at our example again. Since Joe wants to form an LLC, he can’t call his company Joe’s Landscaping Services Inc or Joe’s Landscaping Services Incorporated. Your desired LLC name must also be distinguishable. This means it cannot be too similar to the names of the existing companies that are found in the results during the search of the database. The state will not approve your LLC if there is an existing company with your desired LLC name, or if your name is too similar to an existing company. We will now go over a few examples. Let’s talk about designators first. Designators are the identifiers at the end of a business name. For example, Inc or Corp for corporations, and LLC or L.L.C. for Limited Liability companies. Differences in these designators do not create distinguishability. Let’s say your desired LLC name is Smith Investments LLC but during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Smith Investments Inc. In this example, your desired LLC name would not be available for use, you’ll need to use an alternative LLC name, for example, Smith Financial Group LLC. Grammatical differences such as singular, plural and possessive forms of the word do not create distinguishability. Let’s say your desired LLC name is Apple Farm LLC, but during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Apple Farms LLC. In this example, your desired LLC name would not be available for use. Again you’ll need to use an alternative name, for example, Bob’s Apple Orchard LLC. Differences in articles such as a, an or the do not create distinguishability. Let’s say your desired LLC name is, Print Shop LLC, but during your search of the database, you find an existing company called, The Print Shop LLC. In this example, your desired LLC name would also not be available for use, you’ll need to use an alternative LLC name, for example, Printing Solutions LLC. Names that are too similar to existing companies also known as deceptively similar also do not create distinguishability. Let’s say your desired LLC name is Speedy Delivery Services LLC, but during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Speed Delivery Services LLC. In this example, your desired LLC name would also not be available for use. You’ll need to choose an alternative LLC name, for example, At Your Door Quick LLC. When you search the database, you should search your desired LLC name every way that you can think of. Unfortunately, we can’t show you exactly how to search your desired LLC name because it depends on the state where you’re forming an LLC. Every state has their own database. If you become a member of our site, we will show you with a step-by-step video how to search your state’s database and how to make sense over the results that you see. This is an important step in forming your LLC, so take the time to ensure that your name is unique and that it does not conflict with any existing companies.

A well chosen LLC name can be essential to your business success.

Your name will last for many years and will be an important part of your brand – your company’s reputation.

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when you are brainstorming options for your name.

– Make your LLC name easy to spell. You want to make sure people can find you when they’re looking for you.

– Make your LLC name short. Shorter names are easier for people to remember. It also makes it easy for people to refer you to their friends.

– Make your LLC name have a positive connotation. Leave people with a good feeling when they hear about your business.

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LLC Name Availability

In order to make sure your desired LLC name is available for use, you will need to search it against the existing companies on your state’s database.

We will walk you thru this step-by-step in another lesson.

You need to know if your name is taken, so you can:

– Avoid infringing upon someone else’s name rights.

– Differentiate your business name from existing companies.

– Make sure your desired LLC name is available for use before you file your documents.

LLC Name Rules

Your LLC name must end with the words “Limited Liability Company”, or the abbreviations: “L.L.C.” or “LLC”.

Using the abbreviation “LLC” is the most common.

For example, Joe wants to start a company by the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services”.

Since he is forming an LLC, he must use the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services, LLC”.

Again, using the abbreviation “LLC” (or the full word) is a requirement when forming an LLC.

LLC Name Restrictions

Your LLC name cannot imply that it is a corporation.

You are not allowed to use the words “Corporation” or “Incorporated”, or the abbreviations “Corp.” or “Inc.” anywhere in your LLC name.

Let’s look at our example again.

Since Joe wants to form an LLC, he cannot call his company “Joe’s Landscaping Services Inc.” or “Joe’s Landscaping Services Incorporated”.

LLC Name Distinguishability

Your desired LLC name must also be “distinguishable”.

This means it cannot be too similar to the names of existing companies that are found in the results during the search of the database.

The state will not approve your LLC if there is an existing company with your desired LLC name or if your name is too similar to an existing company.

We will now illustrate several examples.

Corporate Designators (Inc. / Corp. / LLC / L.L.C.)

Corporate Designators are the identifiers at the end of a business name.

For example, “Inc.” or “Corp.” (for Corporations) and “LLC” or “L.L.C.” (for Limited Liability Companies).

Differences in designators do not create distinguishability.

Let’s take a look at how this works:

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Smith Investments, LLC

But, during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Smith Investments, Inc.

In this example, your desired LLC name is not available.

You will need to use an alternative LLC name. For example, Smith Financial Group, LLC.

Grammatical Differences

The following do not create distinguishability.

Singular, Plural, and Possessive Words

Differences/variables in singular, plural, and possessive forms of a word do not create distinguishability.

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Apple Farm, LLC.

But, during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Apple Farms, LLC.

In this example, your desired LLC name is not available.

You will need to use an alternative LLC name. For example, Bob’s Apple Orchard, LLC.

“A”, “An”, or “The”

Differences in articles such as “A”, “An” or “The” do not create distinguishability.

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Print Shop, LLC.

But, during your search of the database, you find an existing company called The Print Shop, LLC.

In this example, your desired LLC name is not available.

You will need to use an alternative LLC name. For example, Printing Solutions, LLC.

“And”, “or”, “&”

The following also do not create distinguishability.

The use of conjunctions such as “and”, “or”, and the ampersand symbol (&).

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Night & Day, LLC.

But, during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Night and Day, LLC.

In this example, your desired LLC name is not available.

You will need to use an alternative LLC name. For example, Moon and Sunshine, LLC.

Hyphens, Periods, and Commas

The use of certain punctuation such as hyphens, slashes, periods, commas, etc.

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC.

But, during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, LLC.

In this example, your desired LLC name is not available.

You will need to use an alternative LLC name. For example, PPM Productions, LLC.

Alphanumeric

Differences in numerical or written numbers do not create distinguishability.

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Three Teachers Consulting, LLC.

But, during your search of the database, you find an existing company called 3 Teachers Consulting, LLC.

In this example, your desired LLC name is not available.

You will need to use an alternative LLC name. For example, A Few Good Teachers Consulting, LLC.

Deceptively Similar

Names that are too similar to existing companies also do not create distinguishability.

Let’s say your desired LLC name is Speedy Delivery Services, LLC.

But, during your search of the database, you find an existing company called Speed Delivery Services, LLC.

In this example, your desired LLC name is not available.

You will need to use an alternative LLC name. For example, At Your Door Quick, LLC.

Searching the State’s Database

When you search the LLC database, you should search your desired LLC name every way you can think of.

Every state has their own database. After you determine the best state to form your LLC, you can either follow our 50-state LLC tutorials (which include LLC name search instructions) or just go right to the state LLC name search database below:

 
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24 Comments

  1. Stephanie November 1, 2017

    What if my LLC has a DBA through the IRS for the EIN? Do I also need approval through the Articles of Organization? Can I do business through the DBA? Can I set up banking in the DBA name? Cash checks made out to the DBA? I read earlier that an LLC needs as approval letter? From whom?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 1, 2017

      Hey Stephanie, sounds like you obtained an EIN for a DBA that does not exist. A DBA/Sole Proprietorship should be filed with your state (or county, depending on the state). Approval through an Articles of Organization is the formation of an LLC, which is different than what you set up. If you’d like to learn the differences between and LLC and Sole Proprietorship, please see this article. You can setup a bank account and receive checks after you file a DBA with your state (or county). Alternatively, if you decide you’d rather form an LLC, you can do so, then cancel the EIN you got (and get a new EIN for your new LLC). Hope that helps. Let me know if you need anything else.

      reply
  2. Christopher Finley February 1, 2018

    I was looking to do Finley and Family LLC

    I did research and there is a Finley Family LLC

    The difference in mine is Finley and Family is separate because not all in my Family is Finley

    They are are a LLC just under Finley Family…

    Is that arguable or no?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 3, 2018

      Hi Christopher, adding “and” is usually not enough to create distinguishability. What state are you forming your LLC in?

      reply
      • Christopher Finley March 1, 2018

        North Carolina

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz March 2, 2018

          Hi Christopher, this won’t fly in NC. They LLC won’t be considered “distinguishable”. We have more on LLC names in North Carolina here: North Carolina LLC Name. Hope that helps!

          reply
  3. Rob Torres February 3, 2018

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you so much for all the valuable and easy to understand information you provided on the website. Quick question, I want to name my LLC “Waterwind Marketing LLC” and when I searched for that name I found “Waterwind LLC”. Do you think it would be considered distinguishable or better to come up with a new name?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 9, 2018

      Hey Rob, you’re welcome man! Thanks :) Unless it’s Texas (the most strict when it comes to LLC name distinguishability), you should be good! Said another way, “Waterwind Marketing LLC” should be approved. Hope that helps.

      reply
  4. Ameya B February 26, 2018

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for this very useful info. I am investing in Real Estate and need to create separate LLCs for all the properties I am buying. I read your article about forming the LLC in the state where the property is located, and I may need to create multiple LLCs in one state. Some folks name their LLC based on the property address (e.g. “123 Easy Street LLC”), however I like to be prepared and form the LLC much before the property is identified, so I need to come up with a naming pattern so I can easily name the LLCs without thinking too much about the name. This naming pattern should be applicable across states.

    I was the thinking the name pattern should be something on the lines of:
    [MY BRAND NAME] [STATE] [NUMBER]
    for all LLCs in all states.

    Example: Assuming My BRAND NAME of “XYZ”, I would end up with:
    XYZ Texas 1 LLC
    XYZ Texas 2 LLC
    XYZ California 1 LLC
    XYZ California 2 LLC
    etc.

    Is this unique enough to pass muster? All the properties are owned by the same entity (me) so there really shouldn’t be any patent or trademark disputes even though they are all legally independent of each other.

    Thoughts on a good naming pattern I could use?

    Best,
    Ameya

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 27, 2018

      Hey Ameya, you’re very welcome :) Having worked in real estate (and investing) for many years, I’m very familiar with the “address naming convention” that you mentioned. However, I agree with you; the LLCs need to be in place and ready before the addresses are locked down. While your thinking is in the right place, I don’t recommend the “1”, “2”, “3”, system. While yes, these will usually pass the “distinguishable upon the record” rule (unless they are in Texas), you’re going to confuse the heck out of yourself when organizing paperwork, setting up insurance, making phone calls, etc. Basically anytime you’re doing clerical or administrative work, you’re going to have to use FAR GREATER amounts of brain glucose to not screw things up and make a mistake (for example, entering a “2” when it should be a “1”). The “1”, “2”, “3” naming system is VERY prone to human error (and if not by you, by someone else… say at the bank, insurance agent, deed recorder’s office, etc.)

      What I recommend instead is a more unique first word. Either creating the word yourself from your imagination/creativity, using “word creation” tools online, or using a different language. Then make your first LLC start with “A”, your second start with “B”, and so on.

      Also, if you’re going to include the state name, I recommend the abbreviated version for brevity and saving time when entering and re-entering your entity name in forms and doing paperwork.

      So, as an example, here would be the first 4 LLC names:
      Alma TX LLC, Baya TX LLC, Calabaza CA LLC, and Decenas CA LLC (I’m using Spanish for the first word).

      Now, I noticed something when writing those out. Writing and reading LLCs names (which include the state abbreviations) took some extra brain power and they are hard to skim/read fast. May I suggest dropping the state name/abbreviation and instead using the [UNIQUE FIRST NAME] + [POWERFUL REAL ESTATE WORD] format.

      Here are some powerful real estate words: Associates, Capital, Consultants, Group, Management, Partners, Realty, Real Estate, and Ventures.

      So expanding upon my first 4 LLC names, see if you like this better (and it feels easier to read):
      Alma Associates LLC, Baya Management LLC, Calabaza Consultants LLC, and Decenas Group LLC. The alliteration also helps too!

      Let me know what you think and if you have any followup questions. I admire what you’re doing. Spending thoughtful time on a naming convention now will save you time and energy for years to come :)

      reply
      • Ameya B February 27, 2018

        Makes sense. I like the idea of using alphabetical increments, rather than numerical. I could also throw in my brand name in there, e.g. Alma XYZ Associates LLC.

        Thanks! I now have a pattern I can use.

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz February 27, 2018

          Good call on throwing the brand name in there. You’re welcome Ameya. Best wishes!

          reply
  5. Shi Fallon April 10, 2018

    Hey Matt,
    When naming your LLC is it smart to refrain from putting “investments” in the name? I was told “investments” is thought of an liability when it comes to getting funding from banks. For example: “Flip house investments” vs “flip house group”. I was told the “group” extensions seems more discreet and universal.

    Thanks

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz April 10, 2018

      Hey Shi, interesting question. In my experience, I’ve never seen the name of an LLC deter a bank from lending. In fact, I don’t think most banks care one bit what a company name is. However, if you’re looking to be discreet on a more macro level, then yea, “group” is more low key in my opinion.

      reply
  6. David May 8, 2018

    Hello Matt,

    I noticed you touched on the use of the “&” but I was looking for a little more. Say both were available. Would it be better to file as an LLC with the AND, then be able to use the & in logo? EX – David And Joe, LLC. Would it make sense because you could also get the domain name davidandjoe.com. Then wanted to use David & Joe as the primary on your logo?

    I understand this is not a clever name. Just using it as a reference.

    Thanks!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz May 16, 2018

      Hi David, interesting question regarding the LLC name. I think you could make the legal LLC name either include the “AND” or the “&”… and then use whichever you’d like in the logo. I don’t see a major difference one way or the other. Comes down to personal preference I guess. If you’re sure you’re going to use the “&” symbol though throughout, then you could also lean that way, for both the legal name and the logo. Hope that helps.

      reply
  7. Jeremy May 17, 2018

    Hi Matt,

    I’m in California and wanting to create an LLC. I searched the database and there is a company with a similar name. My question is… if a company has the name Real Estate California, LLC can I name mine California Real Estate, LLC?
    Does changing order distinguish enough?

    Thank you!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz May 17, 2018

      Hi Jeremy, this would fall under CA 21004.5. (Additional Guidelines Regarding Deceptively Similar and Substantially the Same As), meaning, yes, changing the order around in California is enough to create LLC name distinguishability. Hope that helps.

      reply
  8. Celso May 25, 2018

    Just wanted to say thank you for taking your time to provide this great information.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz June 17, 2018

      Hi Celso, you’re very welcome!

      reply
  9. Julie August 21, 2018

    In Texas…if I wanted to create A&J Insurance Agency, LLC but in researching there is a company called A & J Insurance Services, PLLC. Would that be different enough or would it be denied?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 31, 2018

      Hi Julie, Texas historically has the most strict rules regarding LLC name distinguishability, however, House Bill 2856 (effective June 1, 2018) recently went into effect, somewhat loosening those standards. However, you’ll still need to call the Texas Corporations Section to check on your LLC name’s availability. We have instructions here: Texas LLC name. Hope that helps!

      reply
  10. Minda September 3, 2018

    Hello! So I’ve recently registered my LLC and then realized the domain name is no longer available. Also too similar names are currently being used on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve seen many companies choose “& Co.” in their title. Is this an option for an LLC? I live in Oklahoma and it states that we can use LTD. and CO. but it never mentions if we can use them separately to name our business. For example, I currently own Labeled Living LLC. I would like to change it to Labeled Living & Co. so that I can have a matching domain name and media presence. Would this be allowed as an LLC name?

    reply
  11. Sonya September 7, 2018

    Do I have to indicate that my company is an LLC on my social media accounts (FB, Instagram, etc)?

    Thanks,

    Sonya

    reply

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