North Dakota 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 North Dakota business name rules.

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

North Dakota LLC name

If you file your North Dakota LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another North Dakota business entity – or that doesn’t meet the North Dakota 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 North Dakota Secretary of State’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.

How do I search the North Dakota business entity name database?

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

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

Visit the North Dakota Business Search page:

North Dakota Secretary of State: Business Search

It’s simple: enter your desired LLC name in the search bar, and click Search.

Screenshot with instructions on how to use the North Dakota Business Entity Search

You don’t need to login to use this tool. And you don’t need to use any Advanced Search settings.

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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota Business Entity Search
Example of North Dakota 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 North Dakota 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.

North Dakota Secretary of State Contact Information

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

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

The Business Services phone number is 701-328-4284. Their hours are 8am to 5pm Central time, Monday through Friday.

North Dakota Limited Liability Company Name Requirements

As per Section 10-32.1-11 of the North Dakota LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming a North Dakota 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 Grandpa’s Pies, you can file it as:

  • Grandpa’s Pies LLC
  • Grandpa’s Pies, LLC

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

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

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

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

The following designators are not allowed

Your North Dakota LLC can’t make itself sound like a North Dakota 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 North Dakota LLC name?

Your North Dakota 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 North Dakota business name must be distinguishable (unique)

When you use the North Dakota Secretary of State Business Records 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 Jim’s Bison Company LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the North Dakota Business Name Search results:

  • Jim’s Bison Company, Inc.
  • Jim’s Bison Company, Corp.
  • Jim’s Bison Company, 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 Roughrider Farms LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • The Roughrider Farms LLC
  • A Roughrider Farm Inc.
  • Roughrider and Farms L.L.C.
  • Roughrider & 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 Ladybug’s Dresses LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • Ladybugs Dress LLC
  • Ladybug’s Dress Inc.
  • Ladybug Dresses, L.L.C.

Abbreviation vs Complete Name or Word

Using an abbreviation instead of a complete word (or vice versa) doesn’t create distinguishability.

If your desired LLC name is New York Pizza Bros. LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:

  • NY Pizza Bros, L.C.
  • NY Pizza Brothers, Ltd. Liability Co.
  • New York Pizza Brothers Inc.

Business Search Tips for Abbreviations

If you want to use an abbreviation, or a word that has a commonly-used abbreviation, make sure you search for the abbreviation and the complete word when you use the Business Entity Search to check availability.

For example: If you wanted to use the word “February” in your business name, make sure you also search for the business name using “Feb” instead. Or if you wanted to use the abbreviation “GA” for Georgia, make sure you also search for “Georgia”.

Punctuation, Symbols, Spaces

Adding or removing punctuation, symbols and spaces doesn’t create distinguishability.

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

  • Teredo-Wood-Works Inc.
  • “Teredo” Wood Works, Limited Liability Co.
  • TeredoWoodworks, L.L.C.
  • Teredo *Wood* Works Inc.

Capitalization

Differences in capitalization don’t create distinguishability.

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

  • WHEATGRASS JUICE Inc.
  • wheatgrass juice corp.
  • WhEaTgRaSs jUiCe LLC

Said another way, you’re allowed to use any capitalization you want. It just doesn’t make your name distinguishable from an existing company with the same name.

What if my North Dakota business name is rejected?

If you file your North Dakota Articles of Organization (the document that creates your North Dakota 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.

North Dakota Business Name FAQs

Do I need a name reservation in North Dakota?

No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in North Dakota. 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 North Dakota require LLC in the name?

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

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • Limited Liability Company
Does my North Dakota LLC need a DBA?

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

A DBA (known as a Trade Name or Franchise Name in North Dakota) 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 Trade Name Registration and pay an additional fee of $25 to the Secretary of State. Check out the Trade Name section of the ND Secretary of State Business Registration Guide for more information on this process.

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

There is no limit to the number of Trademarks or Trade Names 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 Wild Prairie Rose Gardens LLC, but you also want to use a friendlier, catchy name, like Prairie Gardens. In this case, your LLC would need to file a Trade Name Registration to use the name Prairie Gardens.

If you don’t file a Trade Name Registration for a different name, you can only use your legal entity name of Wild Prairie Rose Gardens LLC.

Similarly, if you want to do business under the name Wild Prairie Rose Gardens, just without the letters “LLC” in the name, you should file a Trade Name for Wild Prairie Rose Gardens.

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 Meadowlark Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Meadowlark Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing North Dakota 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota entity?

No. You can’t use the same name as another North Dakota 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota.

How to start an LLC in North Dakota?

Here are the steps to starting an LLC in North Dakota:

  1. Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
  2. Choose who will be your North Dakota Registered Agent
  3. File the North Dakota LLC Articles 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 North Dakota
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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