A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the Texas LLC name rules.
This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.
How to search an LLC name in Texas
You can search a Texas LLC name 3 ways:
1. Call the State
Call the State Business Information Line at 512-463-5555 and tell them: “Hello, I am forming an LLC and I’d like to check to see if my name is available.”
We recommend having 1-2 alternative names ready in case your desired LLC name is not available. This will save you from having to make multiple phone calls.
Tip: For LLC naming tips, check out how to come up with a good business name. It’s a good idea to think of a name you really like, so you don’t have to change it later. While you can change an LLC name later (via a Certificate of Amendment), it costs $150. Additionally, you have to update the IRS, the Texas Comptroller, your bank, and every other agency/registration.
To avoid long hold times, it’s best to call right when they open at 8am.
Their phone hours are Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm Central Time.
It’s important to note, that as per 79.45, if the person on the phone tells you that your LLC name is available, while it’s likely your name will be approved, this isn’t 100% guaranteed. Final LLC name determination is made when the state receives your Certificate of Formation (or if you file a name reservation). Having said that, if your Certificate of Formation is rejected, don’t worry; the state isn’t going to steal your money. They’ll send you a letter or email letting you know to refile with a different LLC name.
2. Send an Email
The Texas Secretary of State replies to emails very fast. You can send them an email and ask them to lookup a few LLC names.
We made an email template for you. Just click this link which generates a ready-to-send email.
Note: If you use Gmail and Chrome, try the Chrome extension called “Send from Gmail (by Google)”.
If the link above doesn’t work for you, you can send an email manually. You can copy and paste the template from this page: TX LLC Name Search Email Template
3. Search the State’s Online Database
While this method isn’t as reliable as #1 and #2, it may still be helpful.
You can search existing businesses in Texas on the Taxable Entity Search page of the Comptroller’s website.
The video below will show you how to search LLC names in Texas.
- The video starts with an overview of LLC name rules, then at 8 min. 20 sec. you can see searches being completed.
- The user interface has since been updated, but the same principles still apply.
- Don’t enter the LLC designator (LLC, L.L.C., etc) while doing searches.
- Search the singular and plural form of words. For example, if your LLC name has the word “Contractors” in it, also do a search with “Contractor”.
- Search the first 1-2 words of your LLC name. For example, if your desired LLC name is “Austin Roof Repair Company LLC”, do a search for “austin roof”.
- The goal is to look for any potential name conflicts and to come up with a unique LLC name.
What LLC designators can I use in Texas?
As per Section 5.056 of the Texas Business Organizations Code, your LLC must have one of the following designators:
- Ltd. Co.
- Ltd. Company
- Limited Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
- Limited Liability Company
- The periods in the above examples are optional
- If you’re not sure which to pick, “LLC” is the most common and easiest to recognize
- As per 79.37, an LLC can’t only use the word “Limited”, “Ltd.”, “Company”, or “Co.”
Do Texas LLC name lookups cost money?
No, you can search your Texas LLC name for free.
While the state does provide access to information for a $5 fee, that’s only if you’re searching your LLC name by mail or by fax. But who searches their LLC name by mail or fax… what is this, the 1960s? LOL!
Anyway, the three methods at the top of this page are free.
Do I have to file an LLC name reservation?
There’s a lot of incorrect information on the internet that makes it sound like an LLC name reservation is required. This is usually just a waste of most people’s time and money.
The answer is no, an LLC name reservation is not required; it’s optional.
If you run through the 3 methods above, there’s a 95% chance your LLC name is good. If the state rejects your filing because of the name, they’re not going to steal your money. They’ll just send you a letter (or an email) telling you to file again with a different name.
When would an LLC name reservation apply?
If you’ve thought of a phenomenal LLC name months before you’re ready to form an LLC in Texas, you can reserve your LLC name and “lock it up” for 6 months.
Subchapter C (of Title 1, Chapter 5) governs LLC name reservations. In short:
- a name reservation costs $40
- it can be filed by mail (Form 501) or online via SOSDirect
- a name reservation lasts for 120 days
- it can be renewed for 30 days (no limit to the number of renewals)
For more information, please see the state’s website: name reservations
But aren’t Texas LLC name rules super strict?
They used to be crazy strict. You used to have to think of like 10 LLC names before you contacted the state… since most wouldn’t be available even if they were remotely close to an existing business name.
However, things have changed.
House Bill 2856 was signed and new LLC name availability rules went into effect in the summer of 2018.
In short, the bill loosened the rules around how strict name availability was previously. While your desired LLC name still needs to be “distinguishable”, the examiners (those reviewing incoming LLC filings) don’t have to follow such rigid guidelines.
This also helped make Texas’ LLC name laws more uniform with other states.
Do I need a DBA name for my LLC, too?
No, you don’t have to to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your Texas LLC.
A DBA (officially known as an Assumed Name in Texas) lets your LLC do business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name in the Certificate of Formation).
If you want your LLC to do business under a name that’s different than its true and legal name, you have to file with the Secretary of State (Form 503).
For more information, please see does my LLC need an Assumed Name?
What’s an example of when an LLC would use an Assumed Name?
Let’s say you form an LLC called “Jane’s Imports and Exports LLC”, but you also want to sell via a small retail shop. You’re thinking a friendlier, customer-facing name would be good, like “Jane’s Shop”. In this case, your LLC would need to file an Assumed Name called “Jane’s Shop”.
In another example, let’s say you have the same LLC, but you want to do business without the letters “LLC” in the name. In this case, your LLC would need to file an Assumed Name called “Jane’s Imports and Exports”.
Note: There is no limit to the number of Assumed Names an LLC can have.
The other nitty-gritty Texas LLC name rules
In addition to the LLC name guidelines in the Texas Business Organizations Code (BOC), you can find further details in Subchapter C (Title 1, Part 4, Chapter 79) of the Texas Administrative Code.
We’ve highlighted some important rules and guidelines below.
Letters, characters, numbers, and symbols
Your LLC name can include the following:
- letters of the Roman alphabet
- numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9)
- the following symbols: ! ” $ % ‘ ( ) * ? # = @  / + & –
Keep in mind:
- All LLC names will appear in exactly the same font in the database (this is how the state “normalizes” their records)
- Subscript and superscript characters are not recognized (CO2 will be input as CO2 in the database)
- Letters can be UPPERCASE, lowercase, and/or Capitalized
Different “endings” don’t make names distinguishable.
- “Mike’s Bikes LLC” and “Mike’s Bikes Inc.” are not distinguishable
Articles of speech (a, an, the) and conjunctions (and)
The use of articles of speech and conjunctions usually don’t make name distinguishable.
- “A Pizza Shop”, “Pizza Shop”, and “The Pizza Shop” (regardless of designator) are not distinguishable
- “Mountains Climbing” and “Mountains and Climbing” (regardless of designator) are not distinguishable
Words you can’t use and things you can’t do
- You can’t imply your LLC is a part of the federal or state government
- Unless you have authorization, your LLC name can’t imply that it issues insurance
- Unless you have authorization, your LLC name can’t imply that it is a bank
- The word “bail bond” can’t be used in an LLC name
- An LLC name can’t imply it engages in illegal activities
- You cannot use a name which is grossly offensive
Unless you have written authorization from the U.S. Olympic Committee, you can’t use the words Olympic, Olympiad, or Citius Altius Fortius in your LLC name.
Unless you have written authorization from the Texas Banking Commissioner, you can’t use the words Bank, Bank and Trust, Trust, Trust Company, or any similar words or terms in your LLC name.
Unless you have written authorization from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, you can’t use the words College, University, School of Medicine, Medical School, Health Science Center, School of Law, Law Center, or Law School in your LLC name.
For the benefit of war veterans
Unless you have written authorization from the appropriate veterans organization (pursuant to Section 5.062), you can’t use the words Veteran, Legion, Foreign, Spanish, Disabled, War, or World War in your LLC name.
Use of Spanish or different language
You can use Spanish words or words from different languages, as long as the characters utilize the Roman alphabet. The Texas Secretary of State will not translate the words, so if your LLC name (expressed in Spanish) has the same meaning as an LLC name expressed in English, you’ll be allowed to use it.
- “Lápiz Azul” and “Blue Pen” are distinguishable
- “Inteligente Solutions” and “Intelligent Solutions” are distinguishable
Further distinguishability details
Feel free to browse through to learn more about LLC name distinguishability. However, the fastest and easiest way to check your LLC name is to call or email the state (see top of page).
Questions? Secretary of State contact info
If you are having technical difficulties with the online search, or you are still not sure if your desired LLC name is available for use, you can call the Texas Business Information Line at 512-463-5555.
Their hours are Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm Central Time.
Next Step: Texas Registered Agent
After you’ve found a Texas LLC name that’s available, you can proceed to the next lesson: Texas Registered Agent.
And check out TRUIC’s business name generator if you need help coming up with an LLC name.