Massachusetts Business Name Search (LLC lookup) - 2024 Guide

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LLC names
A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the Massachusetts business name rules.

This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.

Massachusetts LLC name

If you file your Massachusetts LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another Massachusetts business entity – or that doesn’t meet the Massachusetts name rules – your filing may be rejected.

The first step to checking if your LLC name passes is to make sure your name is not already taken by another business.

You can do this using the Business Entity Search. And you need to do this because two business entities in the state can’t have the same name or be too similar.

The second step is to make sure your LLC name follows the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.

How do I search the Massachusetts business entity name database?

You can use the business entity search to search your business name against the existing business entities registered in Massachusetts.

Note: This tool is sometimes called the Massachusetts Business Name Search or the Massachusetts Business Entity Search. They both refer to the same website and get you the same search records.

Massachusetts has a separate search tool for checking existing Business Name Reservations. But most people don’t file a name reservation. So we don’t think this tool is very useful.

Visit the Massachusetts Corporate Records Search page:

Massachusetts Secretary of State: Business Entity Search

It’s simple: enter your desired LLC name in the search bar.

Leave “Search by” set to “Entity Name“. And set “Search type” to “Full Text“.

Screenshot with instructions on how to use the Massachusetts Business Entity Search

Search tips:

  • Leave out “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, “Limited Liability Company”, etc., when doing your searches.
  • Leave out any commas, periods, apostrophes, etc.
  • You can search using uppercase or lowercase letters.


How to interpret the Massachusetts LLC search results

If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your Limited Liability Company name is available for use.

  • Let’s keep using the example above. If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the only similar names you saw were “Riverwalk Rentals” and “Riverwalk Studio Starters”, then your name should be available.
Screenshot of sample results from the Massachusetts Business Entity Search
Example of Massachusetts Business Entity Search results

If no results show up, that means your LLC name is unique and it should be available for use. To be safe, run your search again using only part of your LLC name (to double-check that there are no similar names).

  • For example, search just the word “Riverwalk” instead of Riverwalk Studios.

If your exact LLC name appears in the list of search records, your LLC name is not available for use because another Massachusetts business entity is already using it.

If the results show a name that is very similar to yours, your LLC name may not be available for use.

  • If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the search results show a “Riverwalk Studio”, then your name is not available.

What if my desired LLC name isn’t available?

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different name for your LLC.

Tip: Wait until your LLC is approved before you apply for your LLC EIN Number or purchase any other marketing materials. This way you don’t spend money on business supplies you can’t use because your business name isn’t available.

Massachusetts Secretary of State Contact Information

You can call the Massachusetts Secretary of State to ask questions about whether your LLC name is available.

Representatives at the Massachusetts Secretary of State can help you use the Massachusetts Business Name Search. They can’t guarantee that your LLC name will be available when you file, however.

The Corporations Division phone number is 617-727-9640. Their hours are 9am to 5pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Massachusetts Limited Liability Company Name Requirements

As per Section 156C-3 of the Massachusetts LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming a Massachusetts business entity that you need to know.

Do I have to use a comma in my LLC name?

No, you don’t have to. You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. Both versions are accepted by the Secretary of State.

For example: If your desired business name is Ladybug Linens, you can file it as:

  • Ladybug Linens LLC
  • Ladybug Linens, LLC

Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in Massachusetts.

What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?

Your Massachusetts LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • LC
  • L.C.
  • Limited Company
  • Limited Liability Company

The following designators are not allowed

Your Massachusetts LLC can’t make itself sound like a Massachusetts Corporation or any other business entity besides an LLC.

The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:

  • Inc.
  • Corp.
  • Incorporated
  • Corporation

What words are not allowed in my Massachusetts LLC name?

Your Massachusetts LLC name can’t contain words and abbreviations that are restricted by law.

For example, you can’t make your LLC name sound like it’s a bank, part of the government or a government agency, or anything else that misleads the public.

You also can’t use words that are reserved for licensed professionals. These vary by state, but some common examples are accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, and engineers.

Your Massachusetts business name must be distinguishable (unique)

When you search the Massachusetts Secretary of State Business Entity Search, you will compare your desired LLC name to existing businesses in the state.

If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different business name.

Below are rules and examples of LLC names that are not distinguishable.

Designators

Differences in designators (endings) don’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Chickadee Chimneys LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the Massachusetts Business Name Search results:

  • Chickadee Chimneys, Inc.
  • Chickadee Chimneys Corp.
  • Chickadee Chimneys, L.L.C.

Filler Words

Adding non-meaningful or filler words (the, a, an, and, &, of, or) won’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Cranberry Farms LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • The Cranberry Farms LLC
  • A Cranberry Farm Inc.
  • Cranberry and Farms L.L.C.
  • Cranberry & Farms Corp

Plural or Singular Words and Possessive Words

Adding a letter “s” to make a word plural or possessive doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is Patti’s Terriers LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Pattis Terriers LLC
  • Patti’s Terrier Inc.
  • Patti Terrier, L.L.C.

What if my Massachusetts business name is rejected?

If you file your Massachusetts Certificate of Organization (the document that creates your Massachusetts LLC) and the business name is not available, don’t panic. The state will notify you and tell you why your filing was rejected.

You will just need to file again with a variation of your LLC name or a different LLC name.

Massachusetts Business Name FAQs

Do I need a name reservation in Massachusetts?

No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in Massachusetts. It’s an unnecessary step and a waste of money.

You can just file your LLC’s Certificate of Organization with your desired LLC name.

Note: Business name reservations in Massachusetts are only good for 60 days. It’s better to just file your Certificate of Organization when you’re ready.

Does Massachusetts require LLC in the name?

Yes. Your Massachusetts LLC name must contain one of the allowable designators at the end. The most commonly used designators are:

  • LLC
  • Limited Liability Company
Does my Massachusetts LLC need a DBA?

No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your business entity in Massachusetts.

A DBA lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Certificate of Organization).

If you want your LLC to do business under a name that’s different from its true and legal name, you have to file a DBA with the city or town clerk where your business operates. You can find the correct office here: City and Town Websites.

If you are going to file a DBA for your Massachusetts LLC, it must also be distinguishable from existing business names in the state.

There is no limit to the number of DBA an LLC can have.

For more information, please see Does my LLC need a DBA?

When would my LLC use a DBA?

Let’s say you form an LLC called Boston Harbor Cruise Lines LLC, but you also want to use a friendlier, catchy name, like Boston Cruises. In this case, your LLC would need to file a DBA to use the name Boston Cruises.

If you don’t file a DBA for a different name, you can only use your legal entity name of Boston Harbor Cruise Lines LLC.

Similarly, if you want to do business under the name Boston Harbor Cruise Lines, just without the letters “LLC” in the name, you will need to file a DBA for Boston Harbor Cruise Lines.

How do I get a business domain name?

Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to check if your domain name is available before forming your LLC.

You can search for available domain names with GoDaddy:

What does “distinguishability” mean?

Each business entity name must be “distinguishable upon the records” of the Secretary of State.

This means that no two businesses can operate with the same exact name. Said another way, if a business already exists with your desired LLC name, you can’t register your LLC with that name.

For example, let’s say you want to form an LLC called Mayflower Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Mayflower Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing Massachusetts Corporation, it is not distinguishable. You can’t use it and must choose another name.

How do I come up with a business name?

Business names are important for branding and recognition. The name of your Massachusetts LLC can be your company’s brand name, but it doesn’t have to be (please see the FAQ about DBAs above). Either way, picking a good LLC name is an important decision.

Here are some quick tips for coming up with business names:

  1. First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
  2. Then list out as many business names as you can think of. Don’t edit or analyze them. Just get as many names on the page as you can.
  3. Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
  4. Next, set the list aside. Do something else, like go for a walk or get groceries, or sleep on it for the night. Then come back and review the list of names. As you go through it, write down additional ideas and variations.
  5. Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
  6. Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
  7. The best business name will often “rise off the page” and present itself. If it doesn’t, you can try this trick: Close your eyes and count to 10. When you get to 10, you must choose a name. When you open your eyes, force yourself to make a decision. Sometimes we know the best name deep in our subconscious, and this trick can help it come out. Trust yourself and go with what feels best.

For more tips, please see How to Choose an LLC Name.

Can I use the name of another Massachusetts entity?

No. You can’t use the same name as another Massachusetts business.

And it doesn’t matter what entity type it is – your LLC can’t have the same entity name as another corporation, LLC, or any other entity type.

You can’t use another business’s name even if the entity is in “delinquent” status on the Massachusetts Secretary of State website.

But if a business is dissolved, they no longer have rights to that name. This means you can form an LLC with the same name.

How do I change my LLC name?

You can change your LLC’s name later by filing an Amendment form with the Secretary of State.

We have step-by-step instructions on how to change an LLC name in Massachusetts.

How to start an LLC in Massachusetts?

Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Massachusetts:

  1. Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
  2. Choose who will be your Massachusetts Registered Agent
  3. File the Massachusetts LLC Certificate of Organization
  4. Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
  6. Open an LLC bank account
  7. Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Massachusetts

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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8 comments on “Massachusetts Name Search”

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. So, for Massachusetts, even just to ‘hold’ an LLC that’s not yet active or generating no revenue, or in the building process, it will cost at least $956 a year? ($500 annual ‘report’ and $456 minimum tax).

    thanx, K

    • Hi Luftweg, yes, you are correct. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has a very expensive Annual Report (compared to the national average). Hope that helps.

  2. Hi Matt,
    I recently purchased(deed) a house under an LLC. However I established homeowners insurance under my name due to delays with IRS issuing EIN numbers. Can I keep this under my name(I am a member of LLC),
    Thanks Dan

    • Hi Dan, the delays with the IRS have been a major pain. However, we recommend having the LLC hold the insurance policy. You can switch things over once you have the EIN. Hope that helps.

  3. Hey Matt,

    How are you? I hope all is well. I just filed my LLC for a Web Design business with my partner. It will just be him and I doing all the work. No employees for the first year. I was wondering how we go about taxes? I filed my LLC through legalzoom.

    I bought their “compliance, tax and legal” advice. They are all $320/each per year. I know I need the legal advice in case my business gets sued. But do I really need the tax and compliance advice? Let me know.

    Thank you, mate!

    Best,
    Adriel

    • Hi Adriel, I don’t know the ins and outs of those 3 packages, however, I believe the compliance they are referring to is the Massachusetts LLC Annual Report. I’m not sure what is included in the tax advice, but our recommendation is to hire an accountant. You could also keep the packages (and use them) to see if there is value in it for you, and then choose to renew or cancel next year. Hope that helps :)

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