Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of starting an LLC in South Dakota.
South Dakota LLC Costs:
South Dakota LLC filing fee: $150 (one-time)
South Dakota annual report fee: $50 per year
★ Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom
South Dakota LLC name lookup
The first step to forming an LLC in South Dakota is to search your desired LLC name and make sure it’s available for use.
You can browse existing business names in South Dakota using the link below, but we recommend reading this entire lesson first as there are important requirements and restrictions you need to be aware of before naming a South Dakota LLC.
South Dakota Secretary of State Business Name and LLC Search:
Tip: Select “Contains” as your search option when going through the South Dakota name database. This option will display more business names that may be similar to your desired LLC name in the search results.
Statute: South Dakota LLC name rules and restrictions are governed by Section 47-34A-105 of the South Dakota Uniform LLC Act.
How to Search an LLC Name in South Dakota
1. It’s best to search only part of your LLC name to ensure you see everything that is potentially similar. For example, if your desired South Dakota LLC name is “Organic Produce Market LLC”, it’s best to just search “Organic Produce”.
Why: This way, if there is a “Organic Produce Markets” or “Organic Produce Marketing”, you’ll see both of them; which is important, since they will be confusingly similar to your name and the state may reject your LLC filing.
2. Leave out the designator “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, etc., during your search.
3. Leave out any punctuation like commas, periods, apostrophes, quotes, hyphens, etc.
4. The South Dakota name database ignores capitalization so you can search using uppercase letters, lowercase, or any combination.
5. Use “Contains” (instead of “Starts With”) to broaden your search criteria so you can see all the names that are potentially similar to yours.
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)
(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)
How to Determine the Search Results:
• If the results show names that are not too similar to yours, then your desired South Dakota LLC name is available for use.
• If a “No Records Found” message appears, this means your desired South Dakota LLC name is unique and available for use.
• If your desired LLC name already appears in the list exactly as you want it, your desired South Dakota LLC name is not available for use. You’ll need to come up with a new name or unique variation that makes your LLC name distinguishable.
• If the results show a name that is deceptively similar to yours, your desired South Dakota LLC name will likely be rejected. We recommend coming up with a new name or unique variation that makes your LLC distinguishable.
Statuses in the Secretary of State’s Database
You’ll see different statuses when going through the businesses in the Secretary of State’s database.
If you see the following statutes to the right of a name that you would like, this name will not be available for use:
• Good Standing
If you see the following statutes to the right of a name that you would like, this name will be available for use:
• Revoked (Administrative)
However, there is a chance the prior owners of those names can make a claim against your business. Additionally, courts, collection agencies, or similar places may mistake your new company for someone’s old company. In order to avoid any future headaches, lawsuits, or claims, we recommend choosing a South Dakota LLC name that is truly unique instead of using someone’s old name.
South Dakota LLC Name Requirements & Restrictions
Before finalizing your LLC name, it’s important to understand the requirements and restrictions in South Dakota.
Here is a brief overview (scroll down for details on each bullet point):
• LLC designators: You must use a proper designator at the end of your LLC name
• Restricted designators: You cannot make it sound like your LLC is a Corporation
• Comma: You can use a comma in your LLC name before the designator, or you can leave it out
• Restricted and prohibited words: The use of certain words in your LLC name requires special approval
Your South Dakota LLC must contain one of the following designators at the end of its name:
• LLC (most popular)
• Ltd. Liability Co.
• Ltd. Liability Company
• Limited Liability Co.
• Limited Liability Company
Example: If your desired name is “Gem’s Haberdashery Services”, it must be officially filed as “Gem’s Haberdashery Services LLC”, “Gem’s Haberdashery Services L.L.C.”, etc.
Tip: If you’re not sure which designator to use, “LLC” is the most common.
Your South Dakota LLC cannot imply that it is a Corporation, Limited Partnership, or any other type of business entity besides an LLC.
You cannot use the following Designators anywhere in your LLC name:
• Limited Partnership
• Limited Liability Partnership
Comma in LLC Name
You can file your LLC name with or without a comma before the designator. Both are acceptable in South Dakota.
For example, you can file as either “John’s Party Store, LLC” or “John’s Party Store LLC”. It’s up to your personal preference.
Restricted and Prohibited Words
Restricted words require approval from certain institutions, like departments of banking, insurance, education, and professional organizations. Prohibited words are those that are simply not allowed.
Restricted words: Bank, Banking, Banker, Credit Union, Trust, Insurance, Mortgage, College, University, Redevelopment, and Olympic.
Unless members are forming a Professional LLC (PLLC) and are licensed by the state, you cannot use the words Attorney, Lawyer, Engineer, Engineering, Doctors, Dentists, Architect, Land Surveyor, Appraiser, etc.
Prohibited words: Federal, Government, FBI, United States of America, United States, City, Borough, Township, and County. You cannot use curse words or vulgar words. You cannot use words that imply illegal activity, or words that suggest the company is a part of local, state, or federal government, or falsely leads the public to believe the company is associated with certain public institutions.
Reminders & Tips
Do not apply for your Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) until your South Dakota LLC is approved.
Also, do not order business cards, letterhead, signs, marketing materials, etc., until the South Dakota Secretary of State approves your LLC.
Once you find a South 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: South Dakota LLC Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.
South Dakota Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the South Dakota Secretary of State at 605-773-4845 (Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm Central Time).