Pennsylvania LLC Name Search

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The first step to forming an LLC in Pennsylvania is to search your desired LLC name and make sure it’s available for use.

How to Use the PA Business Entity Search Tool

Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations’ Business Entity Search Tool:
https://www.corporations.pa.gov/search/corpsearch

1. It’s best to search only part of your name to ensure you see everything that is potentially similar. For example, if your desired Pennsylvania LLC name is “Horizon Farms LLC”, it’s best to search “Horizon Farm”.

This way, if there is a “Horizon Farming LLC” or “Horizon Farmers LLC”, you’ll see them; which is important, since they would be confusingly similar to your name and could possibly be rejected by the state.

2. Leave out the designator “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, etc.

3. Leave out any punctuation like commas, periods, apostrophes, hyphens, etc.

4. You can search using uppercase or lowercase letters. The PA name database ignores capitalization.

How to Determine the Search Results:

• If the results show names that are not too similar to yours, then your desired Pennsylvania LLC name is available.

• If a “No results found for search term” message appears, this likely means your desired Pennsylvania LLC name is unique and available.

• If your desired LLC name appears exactly as you want it, your desired Pennsylvania LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to come up with a new name or unique variation.

• If the results show a name that is deceptively similar to yours, your desired Pennsylvania LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to come up with a new name or unique variation.

*Important: Non-refundable Filing Fee
Pennsylvania’s LLC Filing Fee ($125) is non-refundable. The #1 reason LLCs are rejected in PA is because the name is not available. Please make sure you read through this lesson carefully. We cannot determine name availability for you, as this is determined by the LLC examiner who reviews your filing. If you have any questions about your LLC name, we recommend you call the Bureau of Corporations at 717-787-1057 (Monday – Friday, 8am – 4:45pm).

Pennsylvania LLC Name Requirements & Restrictions

Before searching names, it’s important to understand the LLC name requirements and restrictions in Pennsylvania.

Here is a brief overview (more details are below):

• You must use a proper designator at the end of your LLC name.
• You cannot make it sound like your LLC is a Corporation.
• Your LLC name must be unique in the state.
• Your LLC name cannot be confusingly similar to an existing company in the state.

Restricted Designators

Your Pennsylvania LLC cannot imply that it is a Corporation. You cannot use the following Designators anywhere in your LLC name:

  • Corporation
  • Corp.
  • Inc.
  • Incorporated

LLC Designators

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

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • LTD
  • Ltd.
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Limited
  • Company
  • Co.

Example: If your desired name “JDM Landscaping”, it must be officially filed as “JDM Landscaping LLC”, “JDM Landscaping L.L.C.”, etc.

Tip: If you’re not sure which designator to use, “LLC” is the most common.

Comma in LLC Name

You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. For example, both “JDM Landscaping, LLC” and “JDM Landscaping LLC” are acceptable.

Confusingly Similar Name

As per PA Title 19, Section 17.3, your LLC name cannot be confusingly similar to an existing business registered in the state. LLC examiners at the PA Bureau of Corporations will use the criteria below.

The examples listed are names that the Bureau will deem confusingly similar.

1. The use of a different corporate designator (Corp., Co., Inc., LLC, L.L.C. Ltd., etc.)
Example: “ABC LLC” and “ABC Inc.”

2. The use of a plural
Example: “ABC’s LLC” and “ABC LLC”.

3. The use of an article, such as ‘‘a’’ or ‘‘the’’
Example: “An ABC LLC” and “The ABC LLC”.

4. The use of a geographic designator after the company name
Example: “ABC of Pittsburgh LLC” and “ABC of Philadelphia LLC”.

5. The use of a numeral or spelled number after the company name.
Examples: “ABC 1 LLC” and “ABC 2 LLC”; “ABC 2 LLC” and “ABC II LLC”.

Restricted Names

Pennsylvania LLC names have certain restrictions, as governed by PA Title 19, Chapter 17.

Governmental Names
Your LLC name cannot imply that it is a government agency. You cannot use words like “Bureau”, “Agency”, “Board”, “Commission”, “Department”, etc.

Blasphemy or Profanity
Your LLC name cannot use foul language, curse words, or constitute blasphemy.

Banking Names
Your LLC name cannot imply that it is a bank. You cannot use the words “Bank”, “Banks”, “Banking”, “Banker”, “Bankers”, or “Trust”. Clearance is needed from the PA Department of Banking.

Insurance Names
Your LLC name cannot imply that it is an insurance company. You cannot use the words ‘‘annuity,’’ ‘‘assurance,’’ ‘‘beneficial,’’ ‘‘bond,’’ ‘‘casualty,’’ ‘‘endowment,’’ ‘‘fidelity,’’ ‘‘fraternal,’’ ‘‘guaranty,’’ ‘‘indemnity,’’ ‘‘insurance,’’ ‘‘insurer,’’ ‘‘reassurance,’’ ‘‘reinsurance,’’ ‘‘surety’’ or ‘‘title’’. Clearance is needed from the PA Department of Insurance.

Educational Names
Your LLC name cannot use the words “College”, “University”, or “Seminary”. Clearance is needed from the Department of Education.

Professional Names
Unless you are licensed or certified by the state of Pennsylvania, and are forming a Professional LLC (PLLC), you cannot use the following words or abbreviations in your LLC name:

  • “Certified public accountant’’ or ‘‘public accountant’’
  • ‘‘Architect’’ or ‘‘architecture”
  • “Engineer’’, ‘‘engineering’’, ‘‘surveyor’’, or ‘‘surveying’’
  • “Doctor” or “Dr.”
  • “Dentist’’, ‘‘Doctor of Dental Surgery”, ‘‘Doctor of Dental Medicine’’, ‘‘Orthodontist”, “D.D.S.,’’ ‘‘D.M.D.”, “Dental Hygienist’’, ‘‘D.H.’’, ‘‘Registered Dental Hygienist’’, ‘‘R.D.H.’’, ‘‘Expanded function dental assistant’’, or ‘‘EFDA”.
  • ‘‘Pharmacist’’, ‘‘druggist’’, ‘‘apothecary’’, ‘‘drug store’’, ‘‘pharmacy’’, ‘‘drugs”, ‘‘medicine store’’, ‘‘medicines’’, ‘‘drug shop”, “apothecary”, ‘‘pharmaceutical’’, ‘‘homeopathic’’, or ‘‘homeopathy”.
  • This list is not all-inclusive. There are further LLC name restrictions regarding Chiropractic, Law, Medicine, Surgery, Optometry, Osteopathic Medicine, Podiatric Medicine, Psychology, and Veterinary Medicine.

Public Utility Names
You cannot imply that your LLC is a public utility company. Clearance is needed from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Young Men’s Christian Association Names
You cannot imply that your LLC is associated with the State Young Men’s Christian Association of Pennsylvania by using the words “Young Men’s Christian Association”.

Reminders & Tips

Non-refundable Filing Fee:
If you’re not 100% sure that your desired Pennsylvania LLC name is distinguishable, don’t send in your filing until you know that it is. The filing fee of $125 is non-refundable. If you need assistance checking your name, you can contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations below.

Wait for LLC Approval:
Do not apply for your Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) until your Pennsylvania LLC is approved. Also, we recommend not purchasing a domain name, business cards, letterhead, signs, marketing materials, etc., until the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations approves your LLC.

Video Instructions

Note: This is an older video. The Business Entity Search Tool’s design has since changed. However, we are including this video as it still provides helpful information regarding Pennsylvania LLC name distinguishability.

Pennsylvania LLC - Name Search

Next Step

Once you find a Pennsylvania 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: Pennsylvania LLC Registered Agent.

And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.

Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations Contact Info

If you have any questions, you can contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations at 717-787-1057 (Monday through Friday, 8am – 4:45pm).

Matt Horwitz


Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. 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.

14 comments on “Pennsylvania 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.

    • Hi John, the link is working. Can you try again with another web browser? Hope that helps.

      • That website for company name lookup still isn’t working on Chrome and Safari. Do they seriously only work on MSIE in this day and age where almost every website is agile enough across browsers? Did Yahoo purchase them or something?

        • Hey Chris, the whole PA Bureau of Corporations website is down today for maintenance. Just try again tomorrow. You can use in all browsers, too.

  1. How can I search to see if there is a specific llc name . I wanted to check if there is an llc with my wife’s name on it . How would I go about doing that

    • Hey Nicholas, I’d do two searched. First, enter your “wife’s first name” and search. Then, enter your “wife’s last name” and search again. You could also just search the full name too. Hope that helps!

  2. My business is going to use a variation of the spelling of the word “ordinary.” I researched “ordinary” and found ten businesses using that word with several of them, in my opinion, being similar enough that they would be disallowed. That concerns me and/or confuses me. I guess my best bet is to contact the state and ask them?

    • Hi Dan, yes, I’d phone the Bureau of Corporations to be sure. Also, if you can provide me with your desired LLC name, I’ll run a search and let you know what I think. Thanks.

  3. Hi Mark,
    Thanks so much for the quick response. I am considering naming my business The Ordynary Ice Cream Tavern and Eatery…spelling is correct :). I guess I am getting confused between the fictitious name and the LLC name. Would I set it up as, for example, Dan B LLC dba The Ordynary Ice Cream Tavern and Eatery? Thanks for all your help. What a great website this is!

    • Hi Dan, thanks for the kind words! You won’t have any issues getting that name approved even though there are other “ordinary” businesses filed ;) If you want to display your business name to the public but leave out the “LLC”, then you’d also want to register a Fictitious Name after the LLC is setup. If you’ll use the full legal name (The Ordynary Ice Cream Tavern and Eatery LLC), then there’s no need for a Fictitious Name. Hope that helps!

  4. Thank so much Matt! That is a tremendous help. I have been researching and figuring out the terminology, slowly but surely. Your site has been extremely helpful. Thanks again!

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