The ultimate guide for LLC names

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How to name your LLC

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

Naming your LLC (Limited Liability Company) is the first step when starting an LLC. Once you have a good LLC name that is available to use, you can begin your LLC filing with the state’s office.

LLC names must meet certain legal guidelines before the state will approve them. Additionally, a good name is important for your business.

Your LLC name will last for many years and will be an important part your business’s reputation.

Here are a few quick tips for LLC names:

  • Make the name easy to spell. You want to make sure people can find you when they’re looking for you.
  • Make the 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 name is positive. 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, you will need to do a search with the Secretary of State.

Our Secretary of State business search page has a link to the databases in each state. Or you can check out our name lessons.

For example, if your desired company name is “Big John’s Ski Lodge LLC“, you’ll want to search in the state database (in the state where you’re starting the LLC) for anything beginning with “Big John’s Ski”. In fact, it’s also a good idea to search “Big John” to see as many results as possible.

Checking to see if your LLC company name is available is also known as being “distinguishable“.

Your LLC name needs to be distinguishable so that it’s unique and not infringing on another business’s name rights.

This will also help your business be unique and stand out from a marketing perspective.

Tip: Don’t order any marketing materials until your LLC name is approved.

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 (Limited Liability Company) name cannot imply that it is a corporation or any other business entity.

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”.

Restricted Words

What Restricted words exist will depend on the state where you’re starting your business structure. Some examples are bank, banking, government, police, and insurance. Certain words can’t be used at all. And other words require approval from certain state agencies.

For example, in order to use “bank” or “insurance” in your LLC will require approval from the Department of Banking or the Department of Insurance.

LLC Name Distinguishability

Your desired LLC name must also be “distinguishable” (it can’t have the same name as another business).

This means it cannot be too similar to the name of any other legal business name in the state. You can find the names of existing companies by searching the state database of business entities. This is the same thing we mentioned earlier where you’ll be checking your business name’s availability with your state department.

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

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 a Limited Liability Company.).

Different designators do not create distinguishability.

Let’s say your desired 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.

Words you can use in your LLC name

If you’re not sure what to name your LLC, below are some suggestions you as a business owner can use:

  • Advisors
  • Associates
  • Capital
  • Company
  • Consultants
  • Consulting
  • Development
  • Group
  • Holdings
  • Investments
  • Management
  • Management Group
  • Media
  • Partners
  • Publishing
  • Realty
  • Studios
  • Team
  • Ventures

Searching the States’ Business Name Databases

Select a state below to read our step-by-step LLC name search guide:

Montana LLC Name
Nebraska LLC Name
Nevada LLC Name
New Hampshire LLC Name
New Jersey LLC Name
New Mexico LLC Name
New York LLC Name
North Carolina LLC Name
North Dakota LLC Name
Ohio LLC Name
Oklahoma LLC Name
Oregon LLC Name
Pennsylvania LLC Name
Rhode Island LLC Name
South Carolina LLC Name
South Dakota LLC Name
Tennessee LLC Name
Texas LLC Name
Utah LLC Name
Vermont LLC Name
Virginia LLC Name
Washington LLC Name
Washington DC LLC Name
West Virginia LLC Name
Wisconsin LLC Name
Wyoming LLC Name


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 LLC tutorials (see our how to form an LLC page), which includes a step-by-step guide on LLC name search instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions for LLC names

What are good business names?

Good LLC business names is important for your business and your brand. Having said that, your LLC name doesn’t have to be the same thing as your brand name.

You can also register a DBA (doing business as) for your LLC. This allows your LLC to do business under a name that is different than its true and legal name.

For example, you can form an LLC called “MJ’s Enterprise LLC” and then register a DBA for your LLC called “MJ’s Roofing”. In fact, your LLC can have multiple DBA names. We’ve covered this topic more in depth here: Do I need a DBA for my LLC?

Do I need “LLC” in my domain name?

No, you don’t have to put “LLC” in your domain name. You can if you want to, but it usually doesn’t look very good. Meaning you don’t need a matching domain name. However, you can include part of your company name in your domain names.

We’ve written more about this here: LLC in domain name.

Should I use a comma in my LLC name?

Using a comma your LLC name is optional. All 50 states will accept your LLC’s legal name with or without a comma.

For example, if you’d like to call your new business “JB Construction”, you can name your LLC “JB Construction LLC” or “JB Construction LLC”.

Are LLC names case sensitive?

Yes and no. When you file with the state, how your LLC name is capitalized is how it’ll appear on your official paperwork. However, after that, you can use your LLC in lower case, upper case, or in capitalized format.

Also, the IRS will default to making your LLC legal name all upper case.

Are LLC names by state?

Yes, LLC names are governed by state law. This means if you find a name that’s being used in California, you can use it in Georgia.

The only exception here is if the name has a federal trademark. Please see USPTO: Search trademark database to search for registered trademarks.

Are LLC names trademarked?

No, your LLC’s name is not automatically trademarked. However, you have name rights and protection in the state where the LLC is formed. Having said that, you don’t have national protection.

Meaning, you can’t stop someone in another state from using your LLC’s name. If you want that level of national protection, we recommend hiring a business attorney to file a national trademark.

Can LLC names be changed?

Yes, you can change your LLC name with the state by filing an Amendment with the Secretary of State.  Then, there are other steps to update your name after that process, like changing your LLC name with IRS and on your LLC bank account.

Because there are a lot of places to update, we recommend choosing a solid LLC name from the start. But if you change your mind later, that’s ok.

Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz is the leading expert on LLC education, and has been teaching for 15 years. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.

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42 comments on “Name”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. Hi Matt, thanks for providing such a great and informative article! I have created a weird situation and I would appreciate your opinion. I’m in Missouri and created an LLC six weeks ago (A and B, LLC). It was accepted and registered within a day. I quickly found out that I jumped the gun and the domain was not available. My partner and I decided we actually liked the inverse of the name better (B and A, LLC). That name was available, we acquired the domain, and I filed an “Amend Articles of Organization” form online with the MO Secretary of State to change the name of the LLC within a day of the original Articles of Organization but it still hasn’t been reviewed/approved.

    I’m anxious to file for an EIN and local licenses but those forms require the legal business name so if I filed now, as “A and B, LLC” I assume I would have to later file notices or amendments of some kind to change the name with those agencies to our anticipated/desired name “B and A, LLC”. Should I just be patient and wait for the Secretary of State to review and hopefully approve the amendment?

    Do you think this situation would be an appropriate case to use a DBA? I’ve also considered cancelling the name change amendment online and file completely new Articles of Organization under the desired name. Would that be advised? I’m concerned if the inverse of the name is not distinguishable enough from the registered name it might get declined. I also don’t know what headache dissolving the initial business creates (probably not much as no actual business activities ever occured?).

    Sorry that’s a lot. Thank you for your time.

    • Hi Jarrod, you’re very welcome :) Yes, we don’t recommend filing anything with the IRS or applying for a business license, until you have the LLC name finalized. Changing the LLC name with the IRS and other places can be a hassle.

      You could use a DBA name here. And the domain name and the LLC name don’t need to match. For example, you could name the LLC something generic, like “B and A Group, LLC”, “ABCD Partners, LLC”, “RG3 Capital, LLC”, etc.

      Then register a DBA name called “B and A” and buy the domain name “”. Hope that helps.

  2. Hi Matt, your site is really helpful! I’m about to form my first LLC for my Airbnb business. If I name it “Miller Real Estate LLC”, is it ok if I later might use it for cleaning services or other business services?

    Or would you recommend a more generic name, like “Miller Consulting Services LLC”?

    Would appreciate your opinion.

    • Hi Ron, thank you! An LLC can have multiple business activities taking place inside it. You could either use a generic LLC name or you could use something specific like “Miller Real Estate LLC” and then your LLC can file a DBA (called a Trade Name in Washington) for “Miller Cleaning Services”. We have two articles I think you’ll find really helpful:
      Does my LLC need a DBA
      Can you have two businesses under one LLC

  3. I was told that the proposed LLC name would be rejected due to potential similarity with pronunciation. The following are an example of the spelling differentiation between an entity that is already active and a entity that is filing for its LLC: “TEVA’S L.L.C.” and “TIVAS LLC”? The pronunciation is actually different. However, that is not being recognized in Texas.

    These are the following changes that are being considered:
    1. Adding an additional word to the name “TIVAS”
    2. Filing the LLC as “TIVAS World LLC” and doing business as “TIVAS”

    Please provide feedback.

    • Hi Nichelle, most states are usually not this strict, however, Texas is the exception. Texas has the most rules and the least flexibility when it comes to LLC name distinguishability. If you really want to use “Tivas”, adding a word would be the most common move to make the LLC name distinguishable. Hope that helps.

  4. Hi Matt, thanks for all your great info.

    I’m wondering if using a domain name as an official LLC would create distinguishability.

    For example, if “Big Dogs LLC” all ready existed, would this create distinguishability as a business name: LLC (also note singular vs plural)

    • Hi Doug, you’re very welcome! There isn’t a hard and fast rule on something like this. Each state has different rules/nuances regarding distinguishability. The best thing to do would be to call your state’s Secretary of State office and see what they say. Hope that helps.

  5. Hi, Matt, is the name say “Happy LLC” same as “Happy, LLC”. Can I say that they are the same company (with or without the comma)? Thanks. Wing.

    • Hey Wing, if you’re talking about whether or not a state will accept a new LLC filing for “Happy LLC” if “Happy, LLC” exists… no, that’ll be rejected since punctuation doesn’t create LLC name distinguishability. If you’re asking are they the same company, your question is too ambiguous to answer. I’m not sure of the context, or actually what you’re asking about. Hope that helps though.

  6. Hi Matt, thank you so much for your invaluable info. I was wondering If I search a name and it comes back as inactivated, May I use that name? Thanks

    • Hey Rolando, you’re welcome! This varies from state to state. We don’t have things like this at quick reference. It’s best to call your state’s Secretary of State of office and check. Hope that helps and thanks for your understanding.

  7. Hi Matt,

    I’m confused about what a DBA is for, and it’s advantage. Could you please explain? I can’t seem to find information on this in any detail.



    • Hi Martha, a DBA is a “nickname” that either represents a natural person (like you or I) or a legal person (like an LLC or Corporation). The majority of people who form LLCs don’t need a DBA. We have more information here: do I need a DBA for my LLC? Hope that helps!

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



    • Hi Sonya, you don’t “have to”, but you can if you’d like.

  9. 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?

    • Hi Minda, for your Oklahoma LLC name, you can’t use “Ltd” or “Co” by themselves as the designator. For example, you can’t use the following:

      • Labeled Living & Co.
      • Labeled Living Ltd.

      Instead, if you’re not going to use the designator “LLC” or “LC”, but want to use “Ltd” or Co”, they’d have to be used together (whether or not they’re abbreviated). For example:

      • Labeled Living Ltd. Co.
      • Labeled Living Ltd. Company
      • Labeled Living Limited Co.
      • Labeled Living Limited Company

      What is the ideal domain name you’d like? Check out TRUIC’s Business Name Generator. If you search “Labeled Living”, you’ll see that is available. That’s a pretty catchy domain name ;)

  10. 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?

    • 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!

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

  12. 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!

    • 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.

  13. 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 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.


    • 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.

  14. 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.


    • 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.

  15. 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:
    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

    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?


    • 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 :)

      • 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.

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

  16. 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?

    • 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.

  17. 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?

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

  18. 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?

    • 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.

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