Updated November 18, 2020:

How to check LLC name availability is a common question among new business owners. To find out whether a desired name is available, you must conduct a thorough search. Depending on the state in which you plan to form your LLC, you will need to access the appropriate database. Follow the steps as directed, and seek assistance if required. You can also conduct a federal search to better understand the true availability of your business name. This will be important if you plan to conduct business outside your jurisdiction.

How to Check Name Availability

As mentioned, you will begin in the state in which you plan to form your LLC. In this example, we will focus on the Minnesota secretary of state. Begin on this name availability page, before you're directed to the online business services page. If you have not yet created an account, you'll need to do so. Then, simply follow the steps below:

  • Step one: Go to the online business services page
  • Step two: Click on the type of business structure you plan to form
  • Step three: Depending on your answer, you may need to respond to additional questions
  • Step four: Simply type the business name you wish to use in the search box
    • From the drop-down menu, choose the appropriate entity designation
    • Double-check that you have written your business name correctly
    • Select the end of your business name from the drop-down menu — for example "Inc."
  • Step five: Click on "search" and you will be shown whether your desired name is available

Name Availability

As stated in section 5.053 of the Business Organizations Code, you cannot file a name that is the same or similar any other name reservation, filing entity, foreign filing entity, or name registration filed with the secretary of state. Also, you cannot use a name that is similar to an existing name on file, unless you receive approval in writing from the existing entity. You can also refer to the Texas Administrative Code, Title 1, part 4, chapter 79, subchapter C. This states all the rules to determine whether a name is deceptively similar.

It is important to note that an executive and final decision will not be made until the secretary of state receives and reviews documentation.

Name Reservations

Considered to be generic, name reservations can be used to form any filing entity. You can achieve this step 24 hours a day, seven days a week through SOSDirect. You can also either cancel or withdraw a name reservation any time before the end of the 120-day period. If you would like to renew your reservation, you can do so during the 30-day period preceding the expiration date. There is also no limit on the number of times you can reserve a specific entity name.

Name Changes

In certain cases, you may want to change your LLC's name. To legally do so, you will need to follow the regulations and guidelines set by your state. For example, in Texas, you would need to follow the provisions in your LLC's governing documents and the guidelines set in the Texas Business Organizations Code. You will then need to file a certificate of amendment with the secretary of state. In contrast, you may wish to keep your LLC's legal name, but conduct business under a new name. In this case, you will need to file an assumed name certificate.

Checking and securing an LLC name can be rather complex, especially if you plan to operate as a foreign business. To ensure you do not face any legal ramifications in the future, this step needs to be completed accurately. If you have questions regarding registered trademarks or are wondering how to obtain a certificate of good standing, it is recommended that you discuss your concerns with a licensed attorney.

For example, once you have infringed on someone's trademark rights, you can face serious consequences and fines. Unfortunately, this could put you out of business. That is why it's best to practice due diligence from the start and to seek assistance if you are unsure about your current LLC name.

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