A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the Minnesota business name rules.
This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.
Minnesota LLC name
If you file your Minnesota LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another Minnesota business entity – or that doesn’t meet the Minnesota 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 Filings Search (aka 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 Minnesota Secretary of State’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.
How do I search the Minnesota business entity name database?
You can use the business entity search to search your business name against the existing business entities registered in Minnesota.
Note: This tool is sometimes called the Minnesota Business Name Search or the Minnesota Business Entity Search. They both refer to the same website and get you the same search records.
Visit the Minnesota Business Filings Search page:
Minnesota Secretary of State: Business Filings Search
It’s simple: enter your desired LLC name in the “Business Name” field. Set the “Search Scope” to “Contains“. Then click Search.
Then scroll down to see the search results.
- 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.
Tip: It’s best to enter only the main part of your desired Minnesota LLC name in the search bar. For example, if your desired LLC name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, first do a search for the words “Riverwalk Studio”. And then do a search for “Riverwalk”. This helps make sure that you see everything that is potentially similar.
How to interpret the Minnesota 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.
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 Minnesota 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.
Minnesota Secretary of State Contact Information
You can call the Minnesota Secretary of State to ask questions about whether your LLC name is available.
Representatives at the Minnesota Secretary of State can help you use the Minnesota Business Name Search. They can’t guarantee that your LLC name will be available when you file, however.
The Business Services phone number is 651-296-2803. Their hours are 8am to 4pm Central Time, Monday through Friday.
Minnesota Limited Liability Company Name Requirements
As per Section 322C.0108 of the Minnesota LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming a Minnesota business entity that you need to know.
English language or English alphabet
Minnesota has a rule that business names can only contain the following:
- English alphabet letters
- Arabic numerals (1, 5, 200)
- Symbols on a standard English keyboard ($, #, “”)
So if your desired LLC name is in another language, it must be either:
- translated into English
- or written in letters of the English alphabet.
For example: If your desired Georgia business name is प्राण योग Studio LLC, you must file it as Prana Yoga Studio LLC, using only English letters.
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 Bumblebee Ice Cream, you can file it as:
- Bumblebee Ice Cream LLC
- Bumblebee Ice Cream, LLC
Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in Minnesota.
What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?
Your Minnesota LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:
- Limited Liability Company
Note: Most people choose “LLC”.
The following designators are not allowed
Your Minnesota LLC can’t make itself sound like a Minnesota Corporation or any other business entity besides an LLC.
The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:
- Coop or Co-op
What words are not allowed in my Minnesota LLC name?
Your Minnesota 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 Minnesota business name must be distinguishable (unique)
When you search the Minnesota Secretary of State Business Filings, 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.
How does the Secretary of State compare business names?
When the Minnesota Secretary of State compares your LLC name to the existing names in the state, they only look at letters and numbers.
Said another way, the Secretary of State ignores symbols and punctuation. They also ignore spaces between words.
This means that the following business names are all identical, for the Minnesota Secretary of State:
- Monarch.made.Mittens LLC
- Monarch Made Mittens LLC
- Monarch-Made-Mittens LLC
- Monarch/Made Mittens LLC
- “Monarch” Made Mittens LLC
So if there’s already a Monarch Made Mittens LLC in Minnesota, you couldn’t use any of those names instead. You’d need to add other letters or numbers to make the names distinguishable.
And vs “&”
The word “and” and symbol “&” are the same in Minnesota. Let’s say your desired LLC name is Boris & Natasha LLC. If there’s already a company named Boris and Natasha LLC, you can’t use that name.
How do I make my business name distinguishable?
Below are rules and examples of how to make your LLC name distinguishable from other business names in Minnesota.
Adding Filler Words
Adding filler words creates distinguishability. These are words that won’t change the meaning of your business name but make it different from existing businesses.
You could add the following types of words:
- articles (a, an, the)
- conjunctions (and, or)
- prepositions (of, by, in, on)
If your desired LLC name is Agate Farms LLC, but that name is already taken in Minnesota, you could use one of the following variations:
- The Agate Farms LLC
- A Agate Farm LLC
- Agate and Farms LLC
- By Agate Farms LLC
Plural or Singular Words
Adding a letter “s” to make a word plural creates distinguishability.
If your desired LLC name is Blueberry Bakery LLC, but that name is already taken in Minnesota, you could use one of the following variations:
- Blueberries Bakery LLC
- Blueberries Bakeries LLC
- Blueberry Bakeries LLC
Note about possessive words: Adding an apostrophe to make a word possessive doesn’t create distinguishability. The Minnesota Secretary of State ignores punctuation marks in business names. So “Paul’s” and “Pauls” are the same.
Numerals or Spelled Out Numbers
Using numerals (like 5 or 101) instead of spelling out the number (like “five” or “one hundred and one”) creates distinguishability. You could also use Roman numerals instead (like “II” instead of “two”).
If your desired LLC name is 25 Stars LLC, but that name is already taken in Minnesota, you could use one of the following variations:
- Twenty-Five Stars LLC
- Twenty 5 Stars LLC
- XXV Stars LLC
Using a different spelling (like a phonetic or unusual spelling) of the same name or word creates distinguishability.
If your desired LLC name is Boys Baskets LLC, but that name is already taken in Minnesota, you could use one of the following variations:
- Boyz Basketz LLC
- Boiz Baskets LLC
- Boys Bassketts LLC
Symbols instead of letters: Because symbols and punctuation are ignored by the Minnesota Secretary of State, you can’t replace a letter with a symbol to create an unusual spelling. For example, changing “Girls” to “Girl$” won’t create distinguishability.
Numbers instead of letters: However, you can use numbers to replace letters and create an unusual spelling. For example, “Server” is distinguishable from “S3rv3r”.
Abbreviation vs Complete Name or Word
Using an abbreviation instead of a complete word (or vice versa) creates distinguishability.
If your desired LLC name is Minnesota Doctors Club LLC, but that name is already taken in Minnesota, you could use one of the following variations:
- MN Doctors Club LLC
- MN Drs Club LLC
- Minnesota Drs Club LLC
Similarly, using a contraction (like “Ass’n” for Association or “Dept” for Department) creates distinguishability.
What if my Minnesota business name is rejected?
If you file your Minnesota Articles of Organization (the document that creates your Minnesota 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.
Minnesota Business Name FAQs
Do I need a name reservation in Minnesota?
No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in Minnesota. It’s an unnecessary step and a waste of money.
You can just file your LLC’s Articles of Organization with your desired LLC name.
Does Minnesota require LLC in the name?
Yes. Your Minnesota LLC name must contain one of the allowable designators at the end. The most commonly used designator is LLC.
Does my Minnesota LLC need a DBA?
No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your business entity in Minnesota.
A DBA (known as an Assumed Name in Minnesota) lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Articles 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 Certificate of Assumed Name online or by mail and pay an additional fee of $50 to the Secretary of State. Check out the Secretary of State Assumed Name page for more information on this process.
There is no limit to the number of Assumed Names or DBAs 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 Honeycrisp Orchard Tours LLC, but you also want to use a friendlier, catchy name, like Honeycrisp Tours. In this case, your LLC would need to file a Certificate of Assumed Name to use the name Honeycrisp Tours.
If you don’t file a Certificate of Assumed Name for a different name, you can only use your legal entity name of Honeycrisp Orchard Tours LLC.
Similarly, if you want to do business under the name Honeycrisp Orchard Tours, just without the letters “LLC” in the name, you will need to file a DBA for Honeycrisp Orchard Tours.
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:
Find a domain name
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 Etoile Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Etoile Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing Minnesota 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 Minnesota 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:
- First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
- 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.
- Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
- 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.
- Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
- Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
- 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.
Can I use the name of another Minnesota entity?
No. You can’t use the same name as another Minnesota 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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota.
How to start an LLC in Minnesota?
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Minnesota:
- Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your Minnesota Registered Agent
- File the Minnesota LLC Articles of Organization
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Minnesota
Minnesota LLC Act: Section 322C.0108
Minnesota DEED: Naming Your Business
Minnesota Secretary of State: Naming your Business
Minnesota Secretary of State: Assumed Names/DBAs
Minnesota Secretary of State: Name Availability Guidelines
Minnesota Secretary of State: How to Check Business Name Availability
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.