Maryland Name Search

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Maryland LLC Name Search

Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Maryland.

Detailed Lessons:

1. Name Search ← you are here
2. Registered Agent
3. Filing Forms

 

Maryland LLC Costs:
Maryland state fee: $100 (by mail) or $150 (online)
Annual report: $300

Need to save time?
Hire a professional to form your LLC in Maryland:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)


Video Transcript:

The following information is provided for educational purposes only and in no way constitutes legal, tax, or financial advice. For legal, tax, or financial advice specific to your business needs, we encourage you to consult with a licensed attorney and/or CPA in your State. The following information is copyright protected. No part of this lesson may be redistributed, copied, modified or adapted without prior written consent of the author. In this video, we are going to teach you how to research and choose your desired LLC name. The purpose of this video is to help you: avoid infringing upon someone else’s name rights, to help you differentiate your business name from existing entities, and make sure your desired LLC name is available for use. In order to make sure your desired LLC name is available for use, you will need to search it against the existing organized entities on the State’s online database. We will first walk you through some requirements and restrictions and then later we will show you how to perform your search. 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 by the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services”. Since he is forming an LLC, he must file under the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services, LLC”. Again, using the abbreviation “LLC” (or the full word “Limited Liability Company”) is a requirement when forming an 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., LLC” or “Joe’s Landscaping Services Incorporated, LLC”. Your desired LLC name must also be “distinguishable”. This means it cannot be too similar to the names of existing organized entities that are found in the results during the search of the database. We will now illustrate several examples of distinguishability, and we will provide examples you may see while performing your search. Differences in designators, which are the identifiers at the end of a business name. do not create distinguishability. Examples of designators would be “Inc.” or “Corp.” (for Corporations) and “LLC” or “L.L.C” (for Limited Liability Companies). There are other designators as well, but these are the most commonly used. For example, your desired LLC name is “Smith Investments, LLC”, but during the search of the database let’s say you found the business under the name “Smith Investments, Inc.” In this example, your desired LLC name would not be available for use. You would have to think of an alternative name that is unique and different. An example would be “Smith Financial Group, LLC”. Grammatical differences. The following do not create distinguishability: differences and variables in singular, plural, possessive forms of a word. For example, your desired LLC name is “Apple Farm, LLC”. Let’s just say during the search you found the business under the name “Apple Farms, LLC”, or let’s say you also found a business under “Apple’s Farm, LLC” (with an apostrophe s). Both of these names, although slightly different, are too similar and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “Apple Orchard, LLC”. The following do not create distinguishability: differences in articles such as “A”, “An”, or “The”. For example, your desired LLC name is “Print Shop, LLC”. Let’s just say that during the search the database you found a business called the “The Print Shop, LLC”, or you found a business called “A Print Shop, LLC”. Again, although they seem different, these names are all the same in the eyes of the State, and therefore your desire LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative name would be “Printing Solutions, LLC”. 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” with the ampersand symbol. But during your search, you find a “Night and Day, LLC”, or you found a “Night Day LLC”. Again, both of these examples are too similar, and your desired LLC name is not distinguishable and therefore not available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “Moon and Sunshine, LLC”. The following also do not create distinguishability: the use of certain punctuation such as hyphens, slashes, periods, commas, etcetera. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC”, but during your search you found “Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Incorporated”, or you found a “Peter, Paul, and Mary Studios, Incorporated”. Again, both of these examples are too similar, and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative example would be “PPM Productions, LLC”. Alphanumeric: differences in numerical, or written numbers does not create distinguishability. For example, let’s say your desired LLC name is “Three Teachers Consulting, LLC” (with a number “three” spelled out), but during your search of the database you found a company called “3 Teachers Consulting, LLC” (with the number “3”). Again, these are deceptively similar; the State does not look at these as any different and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative example would be “A Few Good Teachers Consulting, LLC”. Deceptively Similar. Names that are too similar to existing organized entities also do not create distinguishability. For example, your desired LLC name is “Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”, but during your search, let’s say you find “Speed Delivery Services, LLC”, or you find a “Super Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”. Again, these names are too similar. Therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “At Your Door Quick, LLC”. Takeaways. As you can see, just filing the paperwork with your desired LLC name is not as straightforward as you may have originally thought. The most important takeaways from showing you all these examples are as follows: it’s important to make sure your name is truly unique and not too similar to the names of existing organized entities; if your desired LLC name is unavailable for use, either by its exact match already being used, or by it being too similar to an existing name, we recommend using some creativity and coming up with a variation of your original LLC name, so that the name is now unique and is “distinguishable”, and stands apart from other businesses. Some additional tips to think of when creating your LLC name are: 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. Make your LLC name have a positive connotation. Leave people with a good feeling when they hear about your business. You are now ready to search your desired LLC name against the State’s online database. We showed you a number of examples where the desired LLC names were not available for use, but don’t worry. In the next part of this video, we will provide plenty of examples of names that are available for use, so that you can best understand the database and the results that you see. Let’s head over to the State’s online database. The link below this video will take you there. Here we are at the State’s website. Before we get started though, there’s a few things to discuss (specific about the Maryland database). Existing companies in the Maryland database will show various statuses when doing your search which will help you determine your LLC’s name availability. There are multiple statuses in the database, including the following: “Active”, “Cancelled”, “Consolidated”, “Dissolved”, “Forfeited”, “Incorporated”, “Inactive”, “Merged”, “Old Name”, and “Revived”. The good news is you don’t have to memorize this list. If your desired LLC name shows up with any of these statuses, we recommend you choose a different name to avoid any conflict issues. Don’t worry, this will make more sense in a moment when we show you how to search the database. When searching, enter your desired LLC name without the designator “LLC” or “L.L.C.”. Capitalization is not important, so you can search your name in all lowercase, all uppercase, or any variation. Let’s search the online database now to show you how this works. It may be easier to watch us perform the name search a few times, then you can re-visit this part of the video when you do your own search. Let’s look at some examples of names that are available for use. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Chocolate Cupcake Factory, LLC”. Let’s head over to the database and let’s search this first broad, and then more specifically. So let’s first search for “chocolate”, and then we’ll search for “chocolate cupcake”. When you’re on the database, you’re going to scroll down under the “Charter Record Search”, and there’s a drop down here. You’re going to select “NAME”, then here we’re going to type in “chocolate”. Once I have that in the Name Box, I’m going to click “Continue”. And this list is in alphabetical order, so let’s see if there’s anything similar to “chocolate cupcake” or “chocolate cupcake factory”. So you can see the 1st one is “Chocolate Company”, “Chocolate Tea”, “Chocolate Among Friends”. So these are the “A’s” here. Chocolate, okay, there we go (“C”), “Cinema, Cinema”, so we’re looking for “Cu”. Here is “Chocolate City”, “Chocolate City”. Okay, we have a few pages of results here. So let’s click on No. 2 to go to page 2. Let’s go back up to the top. “Connection”, “Covered”, “Chocolate Covered”, “Chocolate Delights”, “Chocolate Drop”. Okay, it looks so far, we go from “C” to “D” right here that there’s nothing with “chocolate cupcake”. Let’s just double-check that by doing a more specific search. So if I scroll down to the bottom, I’m then going to click on “New Search”. I’m going to select “NAME” from the drop-down and I’m going to enter “chocolate cupcake” into the Search Box and hit “Continue”. Okay, we have a message here “There are no records that match your criteria for named chocolate cupcake”. This is good news. So since there were no existing businesses that had the same or a similar name, (the “Chocolate Cupcake Factory, LLC”), this desired LLC name would be available for use. Let’s look at 1 more example. Let’s say your desired LLC name is a”Annapolis Arts and Antiques, LLC”. Let’s head over to the database, and we’re going to do a search for “annapolis”, and then for “annapolis art”. I’m going to click the “New Search” button here at the bottom, scroll down, select “NAME” from the drop-down, I’m going to enter “annapolis” and click “Continue”. Okay, so “Annapolis Accents” (we’re looking for “art”), “Annapolis Accounting”, “AC”, “Acquisition”, “Acres”. Okay, let’s scroll down a little bit. We needa “Ar”, so we’re still on “Ae”. Okay, well there’s a lot of pages here, so let’s check on page 2. Scroll to the top, and let’s see here. “Ar”, “Arrow”, “After”, “Air”. Okay, you know what, this is a great example here. Let’s say you do your search and there’s just, you know, 10+ pages. In this case, it might be a little bit easier to be a little bit more specific. So if we go back and hit “New Search”, we go and select “NAME”, type “annapolis”, let’s search “annapolis art” this time. Let’s go ahead and hit “Continue”. Okay, if we scroll down. All right, nice, we only have a couple pages here. So we have “Annapolis Art Company”. That’s okay, “Art & Frame”, “Art & Frame”. Remember, the desired LLC name is “Annapolis Art and Antiques”, and there’s nothing here that’s similar or exactly the same so, this is good news. In this case, because we didn’t find anything that’s identical or too similar, this desired LLC name would be available for use. Let’s take a look at 2 examples of names that are not available for use. Let’s say the desired LLC name is “Crabby Cab, LLC”. Let’s head over to the database, and we just need to search “crabby” this time. I’ll show you why in just a second. Let’s go to the bottom. Let’s hit “New Search”, select “NAME”, enter “crabby”, hit “Continue”. Okay, “Crabby Beard Company”, “Crabby Beard”. Here we go”Crabby Cab, Inc.”. You can see that this is “Incorporated”. There’s an existing corporation under this name. Not good news in this case. Again, because there’s an existing corporation under the name “Crabby Cab, Inc.”, our desired LLC name would not be available for use because the designator does not create distinguishability. Let’s look at 1 more example. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Tomahawk Development, LLC”. Let’s head over to the database and let’s just search the word “tomahawk”. Let’s scroll down to the bottom, hit “New Search”, select “NAME”, enter “tomahawk” and hit “Continue”. Okay, “Tomahawk Custom Cycles”, “Tomahawk Design”, “Tomahawk Development, LLC”, and it’s an active Limited Liability Company. This is not good news. Again, because we found an identical LLC under the same name, therefore our desired LLC name would not be available for use. Takeaways: you want to search your desired LLC name every way that you can think of to make sure it is truly unique and distinguishable. The good news is that you can search as many names and variations as you like since the database name search is free. This is an important step in forming your LLC, so please take the time to ensure your name is unique and that it does not conflict with any existing businesses. If you have any questions about the database, you can call the State at the phone number listed below this video. Once you find a name that is unique and distinguishable from existing businesses, you can then proceed to the next step. This now concludes the Name Research Lesson.

Maryland Name Availability Search

https://egov.maryland.gov/BusinessExpress/EntitySearch

Need to save time? Hire a professional to form your LLC in Maryland:
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)

State Contact Information

State Department of Assessments and Taxation
Corporate Charter Division
Phone: 410-767-1340 (rapidly press 1, 1, 1 for a representative)
Email: [email protected]

If you have questions while performing your search, call the State at the number shown above. If you have any issues reaching a real person, send them an email. They usually respond by email within a couple hours or less.

Next Step

After you’ve found an available LLC name, you can then proceed to the next Lesson: Registered Agent.

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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