The first step to forming an LLC in Massachusetts is to search your desired LLC name and make sure it is available for use.
Your Massachusetts LLC name must be unique and must follow certain state requirements.
Massachusetts LLC Name Requirements
Before searching your LLC name in Massachusetts, there are a few requirements you need to know:
1. The abbreviations “LLC” or “L.L.C.” must be used at the end of your Massachusetts LLC name. The abbreviation “LLC” is the most common.
2. Because a Massachusetts LLC is not a Corporation, your desired LLC name cannot use the word “Corporation”, “Incorporated,” or their abbreviations (“Corp.” or “Inc.”).
3. Your desired LLC name must be distinguishable. This means it must be different and unique from all other businesses registered in Massachusetts.
Differences in designators, which are the identifiers at the end of a business name (LLC, Inc., etc.) do not create distinguishability.
Differences in grammar also do not create distinguishability.
- LLC, L.L.C, Inc., Corp.
- singular, plural, and possessive
- A, An, The
- and, or, &
- hyphens, slashes, periods, commas
- three vs. 3
The following examples are NOT distinguishable:
- Smith Investments, LLC vs. Smith Investments, Inc.
- Apple Farm, LLC vs. Apple Farms, LLC
- Print Shop, LLC vs. The Print Shop, LLC
- Night & Day, LLC vs. Night and Day, LLC
- Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC vs. Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Inc
- Three Teachers Consulting, LLC vs. 3 Teachers Consulting, LLC
Searching the Massachusetts Name Database
1. Visit the Corporations Division Business Entity Search
2. Search Your LLC Name
Select “Search by entity name”, then enter your desired LLC name in the “Enter name” box.
Leave out the ending “LLC” and any punctuation.
Capitalization doesn’t matter.
Leave the “Search type” as “Begins with”.
To be thorough, just enter the first word or two of your LLC name to ensure you see everything that is potentially similar. (Ex: if your desired Massachusetts LLC name is “Johnny Apple Farm LLC”, just enter “johnny apple”).
To be even more thorough, just enter a part of the first word. (Ex: if your desired Massachusetts LLC name is “Printing Solutions LLC”, just enter “print”).
3. Browse the Results
Change the “Display number of items to view” to 100 items per page. Then click the “Search Corporations” button and browse the list of existing Massachusetts businesses:
If a “No records found; try a new search using different criteria” message appears, that means your desired LLC name is unique and available for use.
If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your desired LLC name is available for use.
If your desired LLC name appears exactly as you want it in the search results, your desired Massachusetts LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
If the search results show a name that is deceptively similar to your desired LLC name, your desired Massachusetts LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to think of a new name or use some creativity and come up with a unique variation.
Tip: If you’re not 100% sure that your desired Massachusetts LLC name is distinguishable, just file your paperwork with the state. If your name is not available, the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth will send back your filing and let you know that the name needs to be changed.
Once you find a Massachusetts LLC name that is unique and distinguishable, you’re ready to select your LLC’s Registered Agent. We’ll discuss this in the next lesson: Massachusetts LLC Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth at 617-727-9640.
Massachusetts LLC Act: Section 3
Massachusetts LLC Act: Section 4
Massachusetts Business Entity Search Tools
Massachusetts Secretary of State: LLC Information
Massachusetts Secretary of State: Name Reservations