1. Qualities of a Good LLC Name
2. How LLCs Register Names
3. State Requirements for LLC Names

How to name your LLC? You should choose a name that is memorable and distinguishable from other entities. A name that describes what your LLC does and also does not infringe on the trademarks of other companies is desirable. Before getting a name, it is a good practice to ascertain that the corresponding website domain and social media handles are available.

Qualities of a Good LLC Name

Below are some qualities of a good business name.

  • Memorable
    A good name should be memorable to customers. This will help first-time customers to contact the LLC again and to recommend your business to friends.
  • Descriptive
    A good LLC name should give customers a hint about the LLC's line of business. It would make sense if a bank has the word “bank” or “financial” in its name. This way, the company's name can contribute to the advertising efforts of the company.
  • Available
    Having a website and social media accounts for an LLC has become inevitable. It is important, therefore, for potential LLC owners to research the availability of the website domain name and social media account handles of the potential name before they reserve the name. This would spare the company a lot of resources in terms of advertising fees. Some companies have paid thousands of dollars to “buy” the website domain name that corresponds to the company's registered name because another entity already owned the domain name.
  • Unique
    It is important for an LLC name to be unique compared to other already-existing companies. A unique name will eliminate any possibility of customers confusing the company with other companies.

How LLCs Register Names

The exact procedure of name registration of LLC names differs depending on the state where the registration takes place, but it is normally a two-step process.

Step 1: Name Reservation

Usually, name reservation is done with the office of the Secretary of State, Division of Corporations. Although name reservation is not a requirement in most states, it is a wise thing to do. It eliminates the possibility of rejection of the company's Articles of Organization filing because of naming issues.

States normally have an entity search database where potential business owners can search and find out if the names they want to register are still available. In some states, businesses can officially inquire about the availability of a name for a small fee.

In many states, a business can reserve a name with the state by filling out a form. This can generally be done either online or by postal mail. A filing fee is normally paid for name reservation. Names can normally be reserved for 30-90 days at a time. This period is given to keep the LLC's potential name under reservation until the LLC officially registers by filing the Articles of Organization.

Foreign LLCs normally follow a similar process to register their names but their filing fees are generally higher. Some foreign LLC that are not ready to register reserve their names when they anticipate that they will register in the state at a future date.

Step 2: Filing the Articles of Organization

To officially register a name in most states, the LLC must file a one-page document called the Articles of Organization or Articles of Formation.

State Requirements for LLC Names

To minimize the chances of conflicts about names, states have requirements for LLC names. Typical requirements in most states include the following:

  • Distinguishable
    The name must be distinguishable from other entity names already registered in the state. The level of difference required differs from state to state but most states do not accept LLCs making minor cosmetic changes to a name of an already existing company and then filing the name as their own.
  • Restricted names
    Names that contain words like “bank” are restricted and would have to be manually approved by the Secretary of State after ascertaining that the LLC's purpose is in line with the name.
  • Prohibited words
    Some words are prohibited and cannot be part of an LLC's name. LLCs cannot have words like “police”, “FBI”, and “federal” in their names.
  • “Doing Business As” (DBA) Names
    Foreign LLCs whose names have already been taken in a state are allowed to file fictitious or DBA names. Some states also allow domestic LLCs to file “Doing Business As” names for branding and advertising purposes. The process of filing DBA names usually mirrors the name reservation process in most states.

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