Pennsylvania Name Search

Pennsylvania LLC Name Search

Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Pennsylvania.

Detailed Lessons:

 

Pennsylvania LLC Costs:
Pennsylvania state fee: $125

Need help?
Hire a reliable service to form your LLC:
IncFile ($49 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

Updated: February 19th, 2017

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

You can browse existing business names in Pennsylvania using the link below, but we recommend reading this entire lesson first.

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

Need to save time? Hire a professional to form your LLC in Pennsylvania:
IncFile ($49 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

How to Use the PA Business Entity Search Tool

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 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).

Need to save time? Hire a reliable service to form your LLC:
IncFile ($49 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

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 Department of State 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.


Video Transcript:

Welcome to the Business Name Research Video. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your business name. Your desired business name must be “distinguishable”. Besides the State’s online database (which we will show you later), you will need to do further research in order to verify name availability. There are certain restrictions and requirements to keep in mind regarding the use of certain words and abbreviations in your business name. A name is available for use if it is “distinguishable: from the names of existing organized entities. Organized entity means any Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Partnership, or any other organizational types of business. Example, you would like to go with the name “Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”, but during your research you find a company by the name of “Speedy Delivery Services, Incorporated”. Although this is a corporation, its name is identical to yours, and therefore is not distinguishable. Another example would be “Speed Delivery Service, LLC”. Although the spelling is not exactly correct, this name is too similar to your desired business name. and for both of these examples you would have to select an alternative. In simpler terms, if there’s an existing business that already has your desired name or one that is similar, you will need to choose an alternative. While doing your online research, there is however 1 exception. That exception is fictitious names. These are not organized entities. The filing of a fictitious name does not create any exclusive or any other right in such name. Later on in this video, doing the online database research, we will show you how to determine whether or not a business name is a fictitious name or not. After researching the State’s online database, it is best to conduct a thorough offline search in order to verify your findings. Recommendations include telephone directories and trade magazines and/or catalogs. Keep in mind though that once you file for your LLC, the State will double-check its availability. If your desired name is not available or is not distinguishable, the State will simply mail back your Articles of Organization stating that you must select a new name. For small businesses that need a quick turnaround, we recommend doing the extra research upfront. If your business is not a corporation (which in this case it is not, it’s a Limited Liability Company), you cannot use the words “incorporated” or “corporation”, or an abbreviation of either (such as “Inc.” or “Corp.”). Your LLC must contain the words “Limited Liability Company” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC”. Example: “Speedy Delivery Services, Limited Liability Company”, or “Speed Delivery Services, LLC” with periods, and without. The name of your business cannot imply that you are a governmental unit. Example: a city, a village, or a borough by using such names. And vulgar names are not allowed. Take some time to think about your business name. You can make it easy to remember, easy to spell and something remarkable. At this point you should have your desired business name. We recommend thinking of an alternative name now in case you find yours is unavailable. Example: you’d like to go with “Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”, but as an alternative, you could choose “Speed Services, LLC ” or “At Your Door Quick, LLC”. Now that you have your desired business name and an alternative in mind, let’s move forward to the online research. The link that will be provided will take you to the State’s online database where you will search your desired business name against all the registered businesses and corporations in the State. Let’s head on over to the State’s website. Here we are at the Pennsylvania Department of State Corporations database. I’m going to show you 3 examples today that will help you while doing your online research. We’re going to start with our first desired business name. Let’s say you have a consulting company, and you’d like to go with the name “Aegis Consultants”. A few things to keep in mind: the button that says “Starting With” which is selected is fine; you do not need to enter the letters “LLC” or the words “Limited Liability Company” while doing your searches, and capitalization is not important. I’m going to enter Aegis Consultants and hit “Search”. I’m going to enter the captcha on the next page and hit “Continue Search”. You’ll notice here that the results brought up 1 business. Underneath “Business Type”, you can see that it is a business corporation and you’ll see that the name “Aegis Consultants, Inc.” is a registered business with the State of Pennsylvania, therefore your desired business name is not distinguishable. You’ll need to go with an alternative. Let’s say you have a dessert company and you like to go with the name “Desserts First”. Enter those terms into the Search Box, hit “Search”, again enter the captcha on the next page, and you’ll notice here that we have 4 results given to us by the State: “Desserts First”, “Desserts First”, and “2 Desserts First Cafe”. You’ll notice under the “Business Type” however, that these are fictitious names. As mentioned earlier, fictitious names do not have any right in securing that business name, and therefore if you’d like to move forward and use this name, that will be okay. Let’s go with our 3rd example, which will be “At Your Door Quick, LLC”. I’m going to go back to the Search Box, enter it, hit “Search”, again enter the captcha. You’ll notice on the next page it says “No results were found for the search criteria ‘At Your Door Quick'”. What this means is that according to the database, there are no existing businesses, fictitious names, Limited Liability Companies, or Corporations with the business name “At Your Door Quick”. Therefore, you can then use this name for your business. You can now move forward on to the next step which is your Articles of Organization.

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.

Pennsylvania Department of State 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 on LinkedinMatt Horwitz on TwitterMatt Horwitz on Youtube
Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator at LLC University

Forming an LLC shouldn’t be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! We teach people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your entrepreneurial journey.


How would you rate this?

6 Comments

  1. john nguyen August 10, 2016

    https://www.corporations.pa.gov/Search/CorpSearch. i cant see to get this link to work. Do you have another link to search PA business names? I would like to use my existing business name. How would i do that?
    thank you

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 10, 2016

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

      reply
      • Chris Rand December 5, 2016

        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?

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz December 5, 2016

          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.

          reply
  2. Nicholas November 8, 2016

    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

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 8, 2016

      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!

      reply

Leave a Comment