1. Name Requirements for LLCs in Iowa
2. Choosing a Good LLC Name
3. Choosing Your LLC's Registered Agent
4. The Certificate of Organization

The Iowa LLC Search is the first step in forming an LLC in Iowa. You need to make sure that your desired LLC name is available. This can be done by a quick search at the Iowa Secretary of State web page, whether you're trying to choose a name or want to check an existing business entity's status. Searches are usually done to find whether or not it has been legally formed, the business address, their registered agent's address, and if the business is in good standing.

Here's how to search for your desired LLC name:

  1. Go to the Iowa Business Entities Search page at http://sos.iowa.gov/search/business/search.aspx.
  2. In the “Business Name” search box, enter the name you want for your LLC. Do not include “LLC” or any punctuation. Capitalization is not important.
  3. For a more thorough search, try searching with just the first couple of words in your LLC name. This will turn up anything that is similar.
  4. Click “Search” and a list of existing Iowa businesses should appear.
  5. If you get “no results” then you're in luck; the name you have chosen is available.
  6. If the name you chose shows up, then it is not available and you will need to use your creativity to come up with something else.
  7. If you're not sure if your name is available exactly as you want, you can still file your state paperwork. If the name needs to be changed they will send it back to you.

Name Requirements for LLCs in Iowa

Before you submit your LLC's paperwork with the state, you need to understand some requirements for businesses formed in the state of Iowa:

  • You must use LLC or L.L.C. at the end of your business name. LLC is most common.
  • If you are registering as an LLC, you are not allowed to use the word “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” or their abbreviations.
  • The name of your business must be different from other companies in Iowa. Just switching around grammar, using singular, plural, or possessive forms of the name, etc. are not enough to make the name distinguishable within the state.

Choosing a Good LLC Name

Before you settle on a name, you'll want to do some research. Make sure your name is appropriate for the business you're going to run and is easy to find by potential customers. There are certain words that are restricted for use, such as “bank,” or “attorney,” or anything that would confuse your company with a medical practice, federal or state agency, or other established institution.

You should also check to see if the name you want is available as a web domain name, even if you don't want to create a website. You may wish to do so in the future, or buy the domain name so nobody else can use it.

Once you have chosen your name and made sure it is available for you to use, you will want to reserve it. Your LLC name may be reserved for up to 120 days if you file an application with the Secretary of State called “Application for Reservation of Name.” You may do this by mail or online, and it costs $10.

Choosing Your LLC's Registered Agent

The next step after you have settled on a name is to choose a registered agent. This can be a person or a business, and they must agree to receive legal papers on behalf of your LLC and send them when necessary as well. This includes regular state filings, legal actions, or any other official administrative communications. This person must be an Iowa resident, or a corporation that is authorized to do business in the state. Someone in the company may serve this purpose, including yourself.

The Certificate of Organization

To finish the official registration process, a Certificate of Organization needs to be filed with the state. This is not a form, but a written statement. Instructions for writing it can be found on the State of Iowa website. It must contain the name of the LLC, its main office address, and the address and name of the registered agent. The cost for this is $50.

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