Iowa LLC Name Requirements

Perform an Iowa Secretary of State Business Search to ensure your desired business name is available before forming an LLC in Iowa. The name must include some indication that it's a Limited Liability Company; therefore, you should use the abbreviation “LLC” or “L.L.C.” at the end of your business name. Remember, an LLC is not a corporation. As such, the name cannot include any reference to “corporation,” “incorporated,” “corp.,” or “inc.”

The LLC name you choose must also be distinguishable from any existing businesses in Iowa. The name itself must be unique; differences in grammar or punctuation do not distinguish a business name from another.

How to Search the Iowa Business Entity Database 

Whether you're looking to establish your own LLC or looking for information about another business, you can search the Iowa business database for answers. Navigating the database is easy thanks to the simple functions inherent to the system.

First, navigate to the Business Entities Search page on the Secretary of State's website. Enter your preferred LLC name into the search box titled “Business Name.” To help maximize your search results, choose the “100” option for “Results per page” in the drop-down menu.

Click “Search.” The resulting page is generated based on your search terms. To access a business's summary, simply select the business. When you click on a business entry, you can review all its information related to its filing history, stock information, and more.

For more help searching, consider these tips:

  • Leave out “LLC” and any ending punctuation.
  • Don't worry about capitalization.
  • Enter just the first one or two words of your desired LLC name.
  • Enter part of the first word to be even more thorough.

If you receive a “Sorry, no results” message, there are no similar LLC names in the database, and you are free to use the one you want. Those who do receive results may need to change their desired business name to one that is more distinct. 

It's important to remember that you cannot use a business name that is deceptively similar to another one. Your LLC name must be unique, so be creative when coming up with your own.

In some cases, you may not be 100 percent sure that the name you wish to use is available. When this happens, go ahead and file the paperwork anyway. The state will reject the name if it isn't available and will ask you to change it.

After you've found an available LLC business name in Iowa, you can then choose a Registered Agent.

Business Name Reservation

You may have a great business name in mind, but you're not quite ready to start your LLC. In Iowa, an individual may reserve a business name for 120 days simply by filing an Application for Reservation of Name. 

Mail the application and the $10 filing fee to:

Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building
1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

How to Create a Corporation in Iowa

To establish a corporation in Iowa, you must first file the Articles of Incorporation on the Secretary of State's website and pay the $50 filing fee. If you prefer to complete a paper filing, attach your payment with the application and mail it to:

Regular Filing
PO Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

After successfully forming your corporation, apply for an EIN so you can open a bank account in your business's name.

How to Form an Iowa LLC

To establish an LLC in Iowa, you must first decide on a name. The name must be distinct and include the words “Limited Liability Company” or one of its abbreviations (“LLC” or “L.L.C.”). Certain words like attorney, university, and bank are restricted because they require a license. Even if you don't plan to open your business right away, you should consider buying a domain name to prevent others from getting it.

Next, choose your Registered Agent. This is a person or company that is available to receive legal papers on your LLC's behalf. The Registered Agent can be yourself, a friend, a relative, or someone you hire.

You can then file your Certificate of Organization to officially register the LLC in the state of Iowa. The state does not provide a Certificate of Organization sample form, but there are instructions on how to write it on the website.

Six Key Steps After Forming a Business

After forming your business in Iowa, you should:

  • Open a business bank account and obtain a business credit card.
  • Register your LLC for tax purposes.
  • Choose your accountant or accounting software.
  • Obtain the proper business permits and licenses.
  • Buy insurance.
  • Abide by employee hiring compliance practices.

For additional help starting your business in Iowa, consult an attorney by posting your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace.