A unique business name is important for branding, but it’s easy to get lost in all the Virginia business name rules.
This page will teach you how to look up your LLC name and make sure it’s available to use.
Virginia LLC name
If you file your Virginia LLC paperwork with a name that is already used by another Virginia business entity – or that doesn’t meet the Virginia name rules – your filing may be rejected.
The first step to checking if your LLC name passes is to make sure your name is not already taken by another business.
You can do this using the Business Entity Search and Name Availability Check tools. And you need to do this because two business entities in the state can’t have the same name or be too similar.
The second step is to make sure your LLC name follows the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s rules, which we’ve broken down below.
How do I search the Virginia business entity name database?
You can use the business entity search to search your business name against the existing business entities registered in Virginia.
Visit the Virginia Business Name Search pages:
Virginia has two different business entity search tools for checking a potential business name: the Business Entity Search and the Name Availability Check. We explain how to use both tools below.
Business Entity Search
We recommend starting with this tool so you can see other businesses with similar names.
It’s simple to use:
- Set the search type (Select One:) to “Contains“.
- Enter your desired LLC name in the Entity Name field.
- Click Search.
This database searches all business entities registered in Virginia. It shows you all similar names.
- Don’t enter a designator (like “LLC”) during the search.
- You don’t need to use any Advanced Search settings.
Why use “Contains”? If you select “Starts With” you might miss a similar name which adds a filler word. For example, if you searched “Gutter Glam” using the “Starts With” setting, you’d miss the existing business called The Gutter Glam Inc. You can’t name your company “Gutter Glam LLC” if The Gutter Glam Inc. already exists.
Name Availability Check
We recommend using this in addition to the Business Entity Search to double-check that your Virginia LLC name is unique.
Simply enter your desired LLC name (including the designator (like “LLC”)) in the box and click Name Check.
- You’ll get a response telling you whether the name is distinguishable.
- This tool doesn’t show you similar names already in use.
- Leave out “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, “Limited Liability Company”, etc., when doing your searches.
- Leave out any commas, periods, apostrophes, etc.
- You can search using uppercase or lowercase letters.
Tip: It’s best to enter only the main part of your desired Virginia LLC name in the search bar. For example, if your desired LLC name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, first do a search for the words “Riverwalk Studio”. And then do a search for “Riverwalk”. This helps make sure that you see everything that is potentially similar.
How to interpret the Virginia LLC search results
If the Business Entity Search results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your Limited Liability Company name is available for use.
- Let’s keep using the example above. If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the only similar names you saw were “Riverwalk Rentals” and “Riverwalk Studio Starters”, then your name should be available.
If no results show up, that means your LLC name is unique and it should be available for use. To be safe, run your search again using only part of your LLC name (to double-check that there are no similar names).
- For example, search just the word “Riverwalk” instead of Riverwalk Studios.
If your exact LLC name appears in the list of search records, your LLC name is not available for use because another Virginia business entity is already using it.
If the results show a name that is very similar to yours, your LLC name may not be available for use.
- If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the search results show a “Riverwalk Studio”, then your name is not available.
Once you have a name that appears to be unique, check again using the Name Availability Search tool. If you get a message that the name is distinguishable, you should be good to go!
What if my desired LLC name isn’t available?
If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different name for your LLC.
Tip: Wait until your LLC is approved before you apply for your LLC EIN Number or purchase any other marketing materials. This way you don’t spend money on business supplies you can’t use because your business name isn’t available.
When in doubt, call the State Corporation Commission
You can call the Virginia State Corporation Commission to confirm that your LLC name is available.
Not all states offer this service, but the representatives in Virginia will help you use the Virginia Business Name Search and Name Availability Search to figure out whether your business name is available.
Their phone number is 804-371-9733. Their hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:15am to 5pm Eastern Time.
Virginia Limited Liability Company Name Requirements
As per Section 13.1-1012 of the Virginia LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming a Virginia business entity that you need to know.
Do I have to use a comma in my LLC name?
No, you don’t have to. You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. Both versions are accepted by the State Corporation Commission.
For example: If your desired business name is Grandpa Joe’s, you can file it as:
- Grandpa Joe’s LLC
- Grandpa Joe’s, LLC
Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in Virginia.
What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?
Your Virginia LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:
- Limited Company
- Limited Liability Company
Note: Most people choose “LLC”.
The following designators are not allowed
Your Virginia LLC can’t make itself sound like a Virginia Corporation or any other business entity besides an LLC.
The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:
What words are not allowed in my Virginia LLC name?
Your Virginia LLC name can’t contain words and abbreviations that are restricted by law.
For example, you can’t make your LLC name sound like it’s a bank, part of the government or a government agency, or anything else that misleads the public.
You also can’t use words that are reserved for licensed professionals. These vary by state, but some common examples are accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, and engineers.
For more information about restricted words for a Virginia business entity, please see this page: Virginia State Corporation Commission FAQs.
Your Virginia business name must be distinguishable (unique)
When you search the Virginia State Corporation Commission Business Entity Search, you will compare your desired LLC name to existing businesses in the state.
If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different business name.
Below are rules and examples of LLC names that are not distinguishable.
Differences in designators (endings) don’t create distinguishability.
If your desired LLC name is Square Dancers LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the Virginia Business Name Search results:
- Square Dancers, Inc.
- Square Dancers, Corp.
- Square Dancers, L.C.
Adding non-meaningful or filler words won’t create distinguishability. In Virginia, “filler words” includes these types of words:
- articles (the, a, an)
- conjunctions (and, or)
- prepositions (of, for, by, etc.)
If your desired LLC name is Foxhound Farms LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:
- The Foxhound Farms LLC
- A Foxhound Farm Inc.
- Of Foxhound Farms L.L.C.
- Foxhound & Farms Corp
Punctuation, Symbols, Spaces
Adding or removing punctuation, symbols and spaces doesn’t create distinguishability.
In Virginia, the following symbols and punctuation are the only ones allowed to be used in your business name. But all of these symbols and punctuation will be ignored when determining whether the name is distinguishable.
You can use:
- period .
- comma ,
- colon :
- semi-colon ;
- apostrophe ‘
- round parentheses ( )
- dash –
- minus sign –
- plus sign +
- equals sign =
- question mark ?
- exclamation point !
- at symbol @
- number symbol (hashtag) #
- dollar sign $
- percent symbol %
- ampersand &
- asterisk *
If your desired LLC name is Blue Ridge Mug Maker LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:
- Blue-Ridge-Mug-Maker Inc.
- BlueRidgeMugMaker, L.C.
- “Blue Ridge” Mug Maker Inc.
- Blue+Ridge Mug+Maker, L.L.C.
What if my Virginia business name is rejected?
If you file your Virginia Articles of Organization (the document that creates your Virginia LLC) and the business name is not available, don’t panic. The state will notify you and tell you why your filing was rejected.
You will just need to file again with a variation of your LLC name or a different LLC name.
Virginia Business Name FAQs
Do I need a name reservation in Virginia?
No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in Virginia. It’s an unnecessary step and a waste of money.
You can just file your LLC’s Articles of Organization with your desired LLC name.
Does Virginia require LLC in the name?
Yes. Your Virginia LLC name must contain one of the allowable designators at the end. The most commonly used designators are:
- Limited Liability Company
Does my Virginia LLC need a DBA?
No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your business entity in Virginia.
A DBA (known as a Fictitious Name or Assumed Name in Virginia) lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Articles of Organization).
If you want your LLC to do business under a name that’s different from its true and legal name, you have to file a Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name – Entity online or by mail. You’ll also pay an additional fee of $10 to the State Corporation Commission. Check out the State Corporation Commission Fictitious Names Guide for more information on this process.
If you are going to file a Fictitious Name for your Virginia LLC, it must also be distinguishable from existing business names in the state.
There is no limit to the number of Assumed Names an LLC can have.
For more information, please see Does my LLC need a DBA?
When would my LLC use a DBA?
Let’s say you form an LLC called Shenandoah Forest Walk Tours LLC, but you also want to use a friendlier, catchy name, like Shenandoah Tours. In this case, your LLC would need to file a Certificate of Fictitious Name to use the name Shenandoah Tours.
If you don’t file a Certificate of Fictitious Name for a different name, you can only use your legal entity name of Shenandoah Forest Walk Tours LLC.
Similarly, if you want to do business under the name Shenandoah Forest Walk Tours, just without the letters “LLC” in the name, you will need to file a Fictitious Name for Shenandoah Forest Walk Tours.
How do I get a business domain name?
Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to check if your domain name is available before forming your LLC.
You can search for available domain names with GoDaddy:
Find a domain name
What does “distinguishability” mean?
Each business entity name must be “distinguishable upon the records” of the State Corporation Commission.
This means that no two businesses can operate with the same exact name. Said another way, if a business already exists with your desired LLC name, you can’t register your LLC with that name.
For example, let’s say you want to form an LLC called Chesapeake Landscapers LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Chesapeake Landscapers, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing Virginia Corporation, it is not distinguishable. You can’t use it and must choose another name.
How do I come up with a business name?
Business names are important for branding and recognition. The name of your Virginia LLC can be your company’s brand name, but it doesn’t have to be (please see the FAQ about DBAs above). Either way, picking a good LLC name is an important decision.
Here are some quick tips for coming up with business names:
- First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
- Then list out as many business names as you can think of. Don’t edit or analyze them. Just get as many names on the page as you can.
- Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
- Next, set the list aside. Do something else, like go for a walk or get groceries, or sleep on it for the night. Then come back and review the list of names. As you go through it, write down additional ideas and variations.
- Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
- Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
- The best business name will often “rise off the page” and present itself. If it doesn’t, you can try this trick: Close your eyes and count to 10. When you get to 10, you must choose a name. When you open your eyes, force yourself to make a decision. Sometimes we know the best name deep in our subconscious, and this trick can help it come out. Trust yourself and go with what feels best.
Can I use the name of another Virginia entity?
No. You can’t use the same name as another Virginia business.
And it doesn’t matter what entity type it is – your LLC can’t have the same entity name as another corporation, LLC, or any other entity type.
You can’t use another business’s name even if the entity is in “delinquent” status on the Virginia State Corporation Commission website.
But if a business is dissolved, they no longer have rights to that name. This means you can form an LLC with the same name.
How do I change my LLC name?
You can change your LLC’s name later by filing an Amendment form with the State Corporation Commission.
We have step-by-step instructions on how to change an LLC name in Virginia.
How to start an LLC in Virginia?
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Virginia:
- Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your Virginia Registered Agent
- File the Virginia LLC Articles of Organization
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Virginia
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.