This lesson will show you how to search your desired North Dakota LLC name and make sure it’s available.
This is the first step to forming an LLC in North Dakota.
You’ll do this by comparing your desired LLC name against the existing business names registered in North Dakota.
This is commonly referred to as an LLC name being “distinguishable upon the records“. Simply put, it means that your LLC name is unique enough and won’t confuse people by being similar to an already existing name.
Your North Dakota LLC name must meet the requirements of the North Dakota LLC Act, in addition to other rules (explained below).
If you’re just looking for the LLC name search link, here it is: North Dakota FirstStop Business Search
North Dakota LLC Name Requirements
The rules that govern North Dakota LLC names are spelled out in the North Dakota LLC Act, Section 10-32.1-11.
We’ve made them a bit easier to read below.
Comma in LLC Name
Your North Dakota LLC name can include a comma, but it’s not required. The state will accept both variations, so it’s up to whichever you like best.
For example, if the “base” name of your LLC is ABC Consulting, your LLC name can be either of the following:
- ABC Consulting, LLC
- ABC Consulting LLC
Note: Instead of your LLC name ending with the designator “LLC”, there are two other options.
As per Section 10-32.1-11(b), your North Dakota LLC must have one of the following designators (“endings”) at the end of its name:
- Limited Liability Company
Tip: If you’re not sure what designator to use, “LLC” is the most common. And we rarely see “Limited Liability Company” being used since it’s so long.
Not allowed in your LLC name
Your North Dakota LLC name cannot make itself look like it’s a Corporation or any other type of business entity that is not an LLC.
The following words or designators cannot be used anywhere in a North Dakota LLC name:
- Inc. or Incorporated
- Corp. or Corporation
- Limited Partnership
- Limited Liability Partnership
- LP or L.P.
- LLP or L.L.P.
Make sure your LLC name is distinguishable
When the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office is examining your LLC filing, they will only be looking at the “core” of your LLC name (and comparing that to existing businesses).
Meaning, they will be ignoring:
- articles and conjunctions (the, and, &, a, an)
- singular and plural variations of words
- special characters
- and capitalization
Explaining all these can get quite exhaustive (and long), so you’ll need to use common sense when doing your LLC name searches. If you have any questions before filing your LLC paperwork, you can always call the Secretary of State’s office (contact information towards the bottom of the page) to check on your LLC name.
If you want to form an LLC called “ABC Consulting LLC”, and you find an “ABC Consulting Inc.” (or an ABC Consulting that ends with any other designator), your LLC name won’t be distinguishable.
Articles and conjunctions
Using the “ABC Consulting LLC” example, if you find any of the following names, this means your LLC name won’t be distinguishable:
- The ABC Consulting LLC
- An ABC Consulting LLC
- AB and C Consulting LLC
- AB & C Consulting LLC
Remember: The designator rules (Inc., Corp, LP, etc.) also apply to the above examples (as well as all other examples on this page). Our examples above are just using “LLC” for simplicity.
Singular and plural variations of words
You can’t make your LLC name distinguishable by using singular or plural forms of words.
For example, if you want to form an LLC called “ABC Consultants LLC” and someone has the name “ABC Consultant LLC”, your filing will be rejected.
If you find an entity called “Cancelling Carbohydrates LLC”, you can’t form an LLC called “Cancelling Carbs LLC”.
If you find an entity called “ABC Chimney Sweepers LLC”, you can’t form an LLC called “A.B.C. Chimney Sweepers LLC”.
Building upon the other rules, you also wouldn’t be able to form an LLC called “ABC Chimney Sweep LLC” since it would be deceptively similar.
And punctuation isn’t limited to just periods. You also can’t make an LLC name distinguishable by using hyphens (-), commas (,), apostrophes (‘), quotes (“), exclamation points (!), or question marks (?).
You can’t make your LLC name unique from a similar business name in the state by adding special characters like !, @, #, $, %, ^, or * (or any other special character you can think of).
If you find an entity called “rose petal design LLC”, you can’t form an LLC called “Rose Petal Design LLC”.
How to search your North Dakota LLC name
Go to the North Dakota FirstStop Business Search page.
Enter your desired LLC name and then look at the search results to see if there’s already something that’s the same or similar.
1. Just search the “base” part of your LLC name. Meaning, if your desired LLC name is “ABC Consulting LLC”, just search ABC Consulting. Said another way, don’t use the “LLC” or “L.L.C.” designator when doing your searches.
2. Try searching your name a few different ways. Using the ABC Consulting example, it’s also a good idea to search “ABC Consultant” and “ABC Consultants”. Try to think of all the close variations and search for those too.
3. Don’t use punctuation or symbols in your searches, since the database will just ignore them. Leave out things like commas, periods, apostrophes, quotes, hyphens, etc.
4. Don’t worry about the capitalization (uppercase or lowercase letters) when doing your searches. The database ignores capitalization.
How to interpret the database results
- If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your LLC name is available for use.
- If no results show up, that means your LLC name is unique and available for use.
- If your exact LLC name appears in the list, your LLC name is not available for use.
- If the results show a name that is deceptively similar to yours, your LLC name is not available for use.
If your desired LLC name is not available for use, you’ll need to think of a new LLC name or come up with another unique variation.
Tip: Don’t get an EIN Number for your LLC until your North Dakota LLC filing is approved. Even with proper searching before filing, there is a small chance your LLC filing could be rejected because of the name. If that’s the case, the state will let you know and you’ll just need to re-file with a different name (don’t worry, you won’t have to pay the state fee twice). So it’s best to wait on the EIN Number until your LLC is approved. This way, you don’t end up with an EIN Number attached to the wrong LLC name.
Next Step: North Dakota Registered Agent
Once you find a North Dakota 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: North Dakota LLC Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
North Dakota Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the North Dakota Secretary of State at 701-328-2904 (Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm).