Wondering how to choose an LLC name? Picking out a name for your LLC is one of the most important steps for starting your business. You want a name people will remember and meets LLC name requirements. It's important to pick out the right one from the beginning because you won't be able to easily change the name in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing an LLC Name

Are there any restrictions on names that I can choose for my LLC?

The requirements for choosing an LLC name vary by state, but they are generally similar. Most states will stop you from choosing a name that is:

  • Identical to a name that is already in use in the state.
  • Similar to the point where the two companies can be easily mistaken for one another.
  • Names that are reserved for government use or sound like they would be for government use.

How do I know which names are already taken or unavailable?

Each state has a method for checking business names. Most states have an online database of used names that you can check. It is a good idea to choose several names that you would like, so that you can search them all in one sitting.

Why is choosing a name for my LLC so important?

Choosing a name for your LLC is important for a number of reasons, including business operations, sales, financials, and marketing, filing to form your LLC. You cannot file to form an LLC without an approved and available name. Your name will be an important part of the records that the government keeps on your company. While it can be identified through other means such as an EIN, the government requires a name because it will be used in common practice and is the easiest way of identifying your company.

If my company is going to use a shortened version of the name, which one goes on the paperwork?

When you are filing the paperwork for your LLC, you must put the full legal name on documents. Your company will be identified by its legal name and every company can only have one legal name at a time. In other areas, it is possible to use a variation of your company's legal name as long as it is not registered to another company, and it is clear that it is a shortened version of your company's name. For example, your company can go by Waterson if the legal name is Waterson, Gerald, and Lovingston, LLC. If you want to use something that is not a shortened version, you can file a DBA with the state to claim a second name without changing your company's legal name.

How do I know if my chosen name is different enough from other options to be approved?

Each state sets limitations on acceptable names differently. The best way to find out if your name is different enough to be accepted is to file your documents. If it is not approved, you'll have a chance to change it. That is why it is important to pick several name options before trying to file your Articles of Organization.

Can I include a business structure abbreviation in the name?

You can only include structure abbreviations in your company's name if it is required by the state and your company has that status. Several of these options include:

  • Corporations can use “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.”, or “Ltd”.
  • LLCs can use “Limited Liability Company”, “Limited Company”, or variations of LLC.
  • Companies can use industry-specific names such as “Insurance” for insurance companies.

If I picked a name but I am not ready to file yet, can I reserve my chosen name?

Based on where you are, you can reserve your chosen business name for a time. You can file the name reservation paperwork and have your name reserved for up to 120 days depending on the state. Many of the states that allow reservations also let you renew those reservations.

Steps for Choosing an LLC Name

1. Think about the service or product that you sell. Your LLC's name should reflect what it is you do, so customers will remember it.

2. Find an original, unique name that's distinguishable from other business names.

  • Use your state's online database and the U.S. trademark office to ensure that the name isn't taken.
  • Avoid using any prohibited words, such as “bank”.

3. Make sure your chosen name is available as a website and on social media sites.

If you need help with choosing an LLC name, 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, such as Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.