Last updated June 7, 2021

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LLC Name Search

How to name your LLC

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

Choosing Your LLC Name: Form an LLC (5/11)

Video Transcript:

A well-chosen LLC name is essential to your business success. Your LLC 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. Keep 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 sure your LLC name has 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 sure your LLC name has a positive connotation (the idea or feeling people get from the words). Leave people with a good feeling when they hear about your business.

Need help with your LLC? Have a professional LLC service file for you:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

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 through 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 (or buy any branded business materials like a logo, business cards, etc.).

LLC Name Requirements

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 with the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services”.

Since he is forming an LLC, he must add one of the “LLC” designators and use the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services, LLC”.

Using one of the LLC designators is a requirement when forming an LLC.

LLC Name Restrictions

Your LLC name cannot imply that it is a corporation.

Your LLC name cannot contain the words “Corporation” or “Incorporated”, or the abbreviations “Corp.” or “Inc.” anywhere in the name.

Let’s look at our example again.

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

LLC Name Distinguishability

Your desired LLC name must also be “distinguishable”.

This means it cannot be too similar to the name of any existing company. You can find the names of existing companies by searching the state database of business entities.

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

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).

Different 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 is not available.

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

Singular, Plural, and Possessive Words

Differences 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”

Using or not using articles such as “a”, “an” or “the” does 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 use of conjunctions such as “and”, “or”, and the ampersand symbol (&) also does not create distinguishability.

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 & Sunshine, LLC.

Punctuation and Special Characters

The use of certain punctuation and special characters does not create distinguishability. This includes characters such as:

  • Hyphens (-)
  • Slashes (/ or \)
  • Periods (.)
  • Commas (,)
  • Exclamation points (!)
  • Question marks (?)
  • Colons (:)
  • Other special characters ($, #, %, @)

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.

Numbers and Names of Numbers

Using a numeral (like “1” or “2”) or the name of the number (like “one” or “two”) does 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

States will reject LLC names that are too similar to existing companies.

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 States’ Business Name Databases

When you search the business name database, you should search your desired LLC name in many ways to make sure you see any potential conflicts.

Every state has their own business name search database.First, determine the best state to form your LLC. Next, you can follow our 50 state LLC tutorials which include step-by-step state-specific LLC name search instructions.

All Secretary of States’ Business Name Databases:

State Department Business Division Business Entity Search
Alabama Secretary of State Alabama Business Services Alabama Business Entity
State of Alaska Alaska Division of Corporations, Business & Professional Licensing Alaska Corporations Database
Arizona Secretary of State Arizona Corporation Commission Arizona eCorp Business Entity Search
Arkansas Secretary of State Arkansas Business & Commercial Services Arkansas Business Entity Search
California Secretary of State California Business Entities California Business Search
Colorado Secretary of State Colorado Business Organizations Colorado Business Database Search
Connecticut Secretary of State Connecticut Business Services Connecticut Business Inquiry Search
State of Delaware Delaware Division of Corporations Delaware Business Entity Search
District of Columbia Office of the Secretary District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) District of Columbia Business Filings Search (login required)
Florida Department of State Florida Sunbiz Florida Business Name Search
Georgia Secretary of State Georgia Corporations Division Georgia Business Search
State of Hawaii Hawaii Business Registration (BREG) Hawaii Business Entity & Documents Search
Idaho Secretary of State Idaho Business Entities Idaho Business Entity Search
Illinois Secretary of State Illinois Business Services Illinois Corporation & LLC Search
Indiana Secretary of State Indiana's INBiz Indiana Business Search
Iowa Secretary of State Iowa Business Services Iowa Business Entities Search
Kansas Secretary of State Kansas Business Filing Center Kansas Business Entity Search Station (BESS)
Kentucky Secretary of State Kentucky Business Services Kentucky FastTrack Business Organization Search
Louisiana Secretary of State Louisiana Business Services Louisiana Business Filings Search
Maine Secretary of State Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions Maine Corporate Name Search
Maryland Secretary of State Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Business Services Maryland Business Entity Search
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Massachusetts Corporations Division Massachusetts Business Entity Search
Michigan Secretary of State Michigan Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau Michigan Business Entity Search
Minnesota Secretary of State Minnesota Business Services Minnesota Search Business Filings
Mississippi Secretary of State Mississippi Business Services Division Mississippi Business Search
Missouri Secretary of State Missouri Business Services Division Missouri Business Entity Search
Montana Secretary of State Montana Business Services Division Montana Business Entities Search
Nebraska Secretary of State Nebraska Business Services Division Nebraska Corporation and Business Search
Nevada Secretary of State Nevada Commercial Recordings Division Nevada Business Search
New Hampshire Secretary of State New Hampshire Corporation Division New Hampshire QuickStart Business Search
New Jersey Department of State New Jersey Department of the Treasury New Jersey Business Entity Name Search
New Mexico Secretary of State New Mexico Corporations Bureau New Mexico Business Search
New York Department of State New York Division of Corporations New York Corporation & Business Entity Database
North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State North Carolina Corporations Division North Carolina Corporate Name Search
North Dakota Secretary of State North Dakota Business Services North Dakota Business Search
Ohio Secretary of State Ohio Business Services Ohio Business Search
Oklahoma Secretary of State Oklahoma Business Services Oklahoma Search Corporation Entities
Oregon Secretary of State Oregon Corporation Division Services Oregon Business Name Search
Pennsylvania Department of State Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations Pennsylvania Business Entity Search
Puerto Rico Departamento de Estado Puerto Rico Registro de Corporaciones y Entidades Puerto Rico Búsqueda de Corporaciones
Rhode Island Secretary of State Rhode Island Business Portal Rhode Island Corporate Database
South Carolina Secretary of State South Carolina Business Entities South Carolina Business Name Search
South Dakota Secretary of State South Dakota Business Services South Dakota Business Information Search
Tennessee Secretary of State Tennessee Business Services Tennessee Business Information Search
Texas Secretary of State Texas Corporations Section Texas Taxable Entity Search
Utah Secretary of State Utah Division of Corporations & Commercial Code Utah Business Name Search
Vermont Secretary of State Vermont Corporations & Business Services Vermont Business Search
Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia State Corporation Commission Virginia Business Entity Search
Washington Secretary of State Washington Corporations Division Washington Corporations Search
West Virginia Secretary of State West Virginia Business Division West Virginia Business Entity Search
Wisconsin Secretary of State Wisconsin Corporation Section of the Division of Corporate & Consumer Services Wisconsin Search Corporate Records
Wyoming Secretary of State Wyoming Business Division Wyoming Business Entity Search

Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! LLC University® teaches people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your business journey.
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