1. Restricted Terms and Other Requirements
2. Name Distinguishability
3. Grammatical Differences
4. Use of Articles
5. Use of Conjunctions
6. Use of Punctuation
7. Numerical vs. Written Numbers

You will need to check for LLC name availability before registering your business. For many LLC business owners, this is one of the most important steps when forming your LLC. In all states, you need to ensure that the name you want to use is in fact available for use and not already being used by another business. Furthermore, when choosing a name, you should make sure that you choose a name that is right for your brand, easy to spell, and short. That way, customers can easily remember your company’s name and find it in the public domain.

Restricted Terms and Other Requirements

Most importantly, you need to ensure that the name you choose is legal. All states provide rules and regulations regarding business name choice. Therefore, in addition to choosing a name that is available to you, you must also follow those additional requirements that are laid out by the Secretary of State in the state in which you plan on registering.

Some of these requirements include the following:

  • Your name must include the LLC business designator. This includes terms like LLC, L.L.C., Limited Liability Co., Ltd. Liability Co., Ltd. Liability Company, or Limited Liability Company.
  • There are several prohibited terms in most states, i.e. bank, insurance, etc.
  • You cannot use terms like Corp, Corporation, Inc., or Incorporated anywhere in your business name, as this gives the impression that you are operating as a corporation, or that you are incorporated.

Name Distinguishability

Your name must be entirely different from any other name being used in the state in which you want to register your business. Therefore, small changes to your name, such as grammatical changes, the use of articles, conjunctions, punctuation, and changes in numbers (written out vs. numerals) are not considered distinguishable from another similarly named business.

Grammatical Differences

Grammatical differences, particularly changing a single word to a plural or possessive word, do not create distinguishability. For example, let’s assume that your business name choice is Pumpkin Farm, LLC. If you search the business entity name database on your state’s website and find a business by the name of Pumpkin Farms, LLC. You cannot use your desired choice, and will need to choose a different name.

Use of Articles

The use of articles like “A,” “An,” or “The” do not create distinguishability. Another example here is your desired name, Pumpkin Farm, LLC. Now let’s say you run an entity search and find an ongoing business by the name of The Pumpkin Farm, LLC. You’re going to have to choose a new business name, perhaps a name like Pumpkin Homestead, LLC.

Use of Conjunctions

The use of conjunctions such as “And,” “Or,” and “&” also do not create distinguishability. Another example here is your desired business name of Big & Small, LLC. However, after you run a business entity search, you find a business called Big and Small, LLC. In this case, you’ll need to change your name. You won’t have to necessarily change it entirely, as you can come up with synonyms for big and small, such as large and little.

Use of Punctuation

Changing a business name by adding a hyphen, slash, period, comma, etc. does not create distinguishability. For example, let’s say you want to name your business Large and Little, LLC. During your business entity search, you find another business using the name Large-and-Little, LLC. You cannot simply remove these dashes and use your desired name. Furthermore, you cannot change your name to Large & Little, LLC.

Numerical vs. Written Numbers

Differentiating your business from another identical business name by simply spelling out a number, or alternatively, removing a number that is written out and instead using the numerical version, does not create distinguishability. For example, let’s assume that the business name you want to use is 4 Leaf Clover, LLC. During your business entity search, however, you find a company by the name of Four Leaf Clover, LLC. You cannot use the name you want to use, and you will need to find a new name.

If you need help running a business entity search for your company, or finding a good name for your business, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5-percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with, or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.