Last updated October 31, 2020
Texas LLC Name Search
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.
The following information is provided for educational purposes only and in no way constitutes legal, tax, or financial advice. For legal, tax, or financial advice specific to your business needs, we encourage you to consult with a licensed attorney and/or CPA in your state. The following information is copyright protected. No part of this lesson may be redistributed, copied, modified or adapted without prior written consent of the author. In this video, we are going to teach you how to research and choose your desired LLC name. The purpose of this video is to help you: avoid infringing upon someone else’s name rights, to help you differentiate your business name from existing entities, and make sure your desired LLC name is available for use. In order to make sure your desired LLC name is available for use, you will need to search it against the existing organized entities on the State’s online database. We will first walk you through some requirements and restrictions and then later we will show you how to perform your search name requirements. Your LLC name must end with the words “Limited Liability Company”, or the abbreviations “L.L.C.” or “LLC”. Using the abbreviation “LLC” is the most common. For example, Joe wants to start a company by the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services”. Since he is forming an LLC, he must file under the name “Joe’s Landscaping Services, LLC”. Again, using the abbreviation “LLC” (or the full word “Limited Liability Company”) is a requirement when forming an LLC. Name restrictions. Your LLC name cannot imply that it is a corporation. You are not allowed to use the words “Corporation” or “Incorporated”, or the abbreviations “Corp.” or “Inc.” anywhere in your LLC name. Let’s look at our example again. Since Joe wants to form an LLC, he cannot call his company “Joe’s Landscaping Services, Inc., LLC” or “Joe’s Landscaping Services Incorporated, LLC”. Your desired LLC name must also be “distinguishable”. This means it cannot be too similar to the names of existing organized entities that are found in the results during the search of the database. We will now illustrate several examples of distinguishability, and we will provide examples you may see while performing your search. Differences in designators, which are the identifiers at the end of a business name. do not create distinguishability. Examples of designators would be “Inc.” or “Corp.” (for Corporations) and “LLC” or “L.L.C” (for Limited Liability Companies). There are other designators as well, but these are the most commonly used. For example, your desired LLC name is “Smith Investments, LLC”, but during the search of the database let’s say you found the business under the name “Smith Investments, Inc.” In this example, your desired LLC name would not be available for use. You would have to think of an alternative name that is unique and different. An example would be “Smith Financial Group, LLC”. Grammatical differences. The following do not create distinguishability: differences and variables in singular, plural, possessive forms of a word. For example, your desired LLC name is “Apple Farm, LLC”. Let’s just say during the search you found the business under the name “Apple Farms, LLC”, or let’s say you also found a business under “Apple’s Farm, LLC” (with an apostrophe s). Both of these names, although slightly different, are too similar and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “Apple Orchard, LLC”. The following do not create distinguishability: differences in articles such as “A”, “An”, or “The”. For example, your desired LLC name is “Print Shop, LLC”. Let’s just say that during the search the database you found a business called the “The Print Shop, LLC”, or you found a business called “A Print Shop, LLC”. Again, although they seem different, these names are all the same in the eyes of the State, and therefore your desire LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative name would be “Printing Solutions, LLC”. The following also do not create distinguishability: the use of conjunctions such as “And”, “Or”, and the ampersand symbol. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Night & Day, LLC” with the ampersand symbol. But during your search, you find a “Night and Day, LLC”, or you found a “Night Day LLC”. Again, both of these examples are too similar, and your desired LLC name is not distinguishable and therefore not available for use. An example of an alternative name will be “Moon and Sunshine, LLC”. The following also do not create distinguishability: the use of certain punctuation such as hyphens, slashes, periods, commas, etcetera. Let’s say your desired LLC name is “Peter Paul & Mary Studios, LLC”, but during your search you found “Peter-Paul-Mary Studios, Incorporated”, or you found a “Peter, Paul, and Mary Studios, Incorporated”. Again, both of these examples are too similar, and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative example would be “PPM Productions, LLC”. Alphanumeric: differences in numerical, or written numbers does not create distinguishability. For example, let’s say your desired LLC name is “Three Teachers Consulting, LLC” (with a number “three” spelled out), but during your search of the database you found a company called “3 Teachers Consulting, LLC” (with the number “3”). Again, these are deceptively similar; the State does not look at these as any different and therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An alternative example would be “A Few Good Teachers Consulting, LLC”. Deceptively similar names that are too similar to existing organized entities also do not create distinguishability. For example, your desired LLC name is “Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”, but during your search let’s say you find “Speed Delivery Services, LLC”, or you find a “Super Speedy Delivery Services, LLC”. Again, these names are too similar. Therefore your desired LLC name would not be available for use. An example of an alternative name would be “At Your Door Quick, LLC”. Takeaways: as you can see, just filing the paperwork with your desired LLC name is not as straightforward as you may have originally thought. The most important takeaways from showing you all these examples are as follows: it’s important to make sure your name is truly unique and not too similar to the names of existing organized entities; if your desired LLC name is unavailable for use, either by its exact match already being used, or by it being too similar to an existing name, we recommend using some creativity and coming up with a variation of your original LLC name, so that the name is now unique and is “distinguishable”, and stands apart from other businesses. Some additional tips to think of when creating your LLC name are: Make your LLC name easy to spell. You want to make sure people can find you when they’re looking for you. Make your LLC name short. Shorter names are easier for people to remember. Make your LLC name have a positive connotation. Leave people with a good feeling when they hear about your business. You are now ready to search your desired LLC name against the State’s online database. We showed you a number of examples where the desired LLC names were not available for use, but don’t worry. In the next part of this video, we will provide plenty of examples of names that are available for use, so that you can best understand the database and the results that you see. Let’s head over to the State’s online database. The link below this video will take you there. Welcome to the State’s online database. For our 1st example, let’s say your desired LLC name is “Lone Star Ranch, LLC”. Remember that during our search queries we’re not going to enter the letters “LLC”. Let’s first search “Lone Star”. Enter the words into the box and then click “Search by Name”. Anytime you see “Search will return any number of entries” it means the search is too broad, and we need to be a little bit more specific. In this case, I’m going to go ahead and click on “Return to Taxable Entity Search”, and this time let’s enter “Lone Star Ranch”. ‘m going to go ahead and copy that, and then paste it in the box, and let’s hit “Search by Name”. Although you want to go with the name “Lone Star Ranch, LLC”, there’s an existing corporation under that same name, and in this example, your LLC name would not be available for use. Let’s look at another example. There’s a quick link up here called “Taxable Entity Search” which is going to take me right back to the search page. For this example, let’s say your desired LLC name is “Temptations Interior Design, LLC”. Let’s first search the word “Temptations”, I’m going to copy and paste that word here, and hit “Search by Name”. Again, the reason that I’m just typing in the word “Temptations” is I want to see as many businesses as possible to make sure that my name is truly unique. As you can see the list (about halfway down), there’s an existing business by the name of “Temptations Interior Design Gallery”, and although my desired LLC name was “Temptations Interior Design, LLC”, these 2 names are too similar. and we recommend going with an alternative. Let’s look at another example. For this example, let’s say your desired LLC name is “Bob’s Auto Detailing, LLC”. Because the 1st word of the business is unique with the apostrophe “s”, we want to search in multiple forms. Let’s just first search the word “Bobs”. I’m going to enter that into the search box and hit “Search by Name”. As we can see in the list of existing businesses, there’s nothing similar or identical to “Bob’s Auto Detailing. So far so good. Let’s refine our search, as we want to search in multiple different forms. Let’s go just search the word “Bob”. Remember, anytime you see “Search will return X number of entries”, we have to go back and refine our search. So let’s just try “Bob Auto” and see if there’s anything under that name. In this example, it says “Business Name Bob Auto was not found”. Again, that’s a good sign; it means there’s no businesses that start with the words “Bob Auto”. Let’s go back and search again another way. This time, let’s search “Bob apostrophe s”. I’m going to copy and paste that into the search box and hit “Search by Name”. Again, too many entries; you’re going to find this quite often when doing your search. Let’s just go back and refine it a little bit. In this case, let’s do “Bob’s Auto”. All right, as we can see, this search yielded some different results from some of the earlier searches. we have “Bob’s Auto Glass”, “Auto Repair”, “Auto Sales”, “Salvage”, “Truck”, “Automotive”, and “Autoworks”. Since our desired LLC name is “Bob’s Auto Detailing”, we now have thoroughly searched the database and we know that there are no existing names that are either identical or too similar. In this case, your desired LLC name of “Bob’s Auto Detailing, LLC” would be available for use. The reason you want to search all forms of grammar is that the Texas database is not that intelligent, and you want to make sure to search all different forms. Again, most importantly, to make sure that your name is unique. Let’s look at a few more examples. Let’s say that our desired LLC name is “Big Tease Hair Salon, LLC”. I’m going to copy the words “Big Tease” and search those. Here we have “Business Name Big Teas was not found”. In this example, we know there are no businesses in the state of Texas that start with the terminology “Big Tease”. In this example, the desired LLC name “Big Tease Hair Salon, LLC” will be available for use. Let’s look at 1 final example. Let’s say your desired LLC name was “Chocolate Cupcake Factory, LLC”. For this example, let’s just search the word “Chocolate”. The reason that we’re searching only the 1st word of this business, is we want to well as many search results as possible in order to make sure that our business name is truly unique and distinguishable from the existing organized entities. Just make sure that if you do the search and you end up with this message that says “Search returned hundreds or thousands of entries”, we need to refine it a little bit, and in that case we would search “Chocolate Cupcake”. However, let’s just search “Chocolate” and see what we come up with. I’m going to enter the words “Chocolate” and hit “Search by Name”. So here we can see we have 114 matches that were found. Let’s scroll through this list, and as you can see it’s in alphabetical order, and let’s see if there’s anything similar to our desired LLC name. I’m going to go down to the C’s (Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Cat, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip). So far, I don’t see anything with the words “Chocolate Cupcake”, and in this example, the desired LLC name of “Chocolate Cupcake Factory, LLC” is available for use. The main takeaway of this portion of the lesson, is that the Texas database is finicky, and is not the most intelligent and intuitive. You want to search your desired business name as many ways as possible to yield the most search results, in order to make sure that your name is unique and distinguishable from the names of existing organized entities. Once you find the name that is unique and distinguishable (therefore not too similar to any existing businesses), you can then proceed to the next Lesson. And this concludes the Name Research portion.
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, 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
While there are far more details about LLC name distinguishability (79.38, 79.39, 79.40, 79.43, and 79.44), their examples are too long to list out here.
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 LLC Registered Agent