1. What Is a Maryland Corporation Search?
2. Business Licenses in Maryland
3. Statewide and County Licenses
4. Maryland LLC Name Search

A Maryland corporation search is performed to make sure the name you want for your business doesn't already exist. Making the decision to start a business is both challenging and rewarding.

Every business owner needs some basic skills to survive:

  • Knowledge of keeping records
  • Managing finances
  • Managing personnel
  • Analysis of the market
  • Analysis of how to break even
  • Knowledge of the service or product
  • Knowledge of state, local, and federal tax laws
  • Legal structures
  • Communication skills

Every business owner needs to understand the facts and have the resources needed to compete successfully and legally in the industry. When you have your great idea for your new business, the next step is looking at this idea from various angles and doing research about the industry and how to make it work. The next step is finding the right location where your business will operate. You will also need to select a business entity before you can start your company.

When starting a new business, it is smart to consult professionals, such as accountants and business attorneys. You will also have to set up and manage your record keeping and financial systems. The state fee to register a new business in Maryland is $100 when you pay by mail or $150 when you pay online. The fee for an annual report in the state is $300.

Business Licenses in Maryland

Corporate and business filings go through the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation. Before you can obtain a Certificate of Status, you will need to perform a search online of existing businesses. When performing the search online, you will need the business ID number and you must pay a fee for usage. If you don't want to use the online search tool, business license records are also available through Clerk of Circuit Court. These records include those for businesses like contractors, retail establishments, and restaurants.

More than 175,000 professionals working in Maryland have licensure through the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. Professionals licensed through this division include land surveyors, electricians, accountants, cosmetologists, and architects. You can search online by business name, location, or individual name. Professionals like surgeons, doctors, and nurses obtain their licensing through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. These health professions often have their own boards, such as the Board of Physicians or the Board of Dental Examiners.

For attorneys, licensing goes through the Maryland Bar Association, Maryland Judiciary, and the State Board of Law Examiners. 

Statewide and County Licenses

To reduce the complexity of licensing throughout the state, Maryland Commerce manages a database of licenses issued at state and county levels that you may need to run a business. Check your license status by visiting the website of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

When establishing a name for your LLC, it must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.,” or “LLC.” The name of your LLC can't include any words implying that the business is a corporation. This means you cannot use “incorporated” (or “inc.”) or “corporation” (or “corp.”) anywhere in the name of the LLC.

In order to qualify under the regulations of the state, the name of an LLC has to be “distinguishable.” Distinguishable means it can't be confusingly similar to the name of an existing company listed in the database. Changing the identifiers, or identifiers at the end of the name of a business, will not make the name distinguishable. For example, if you wanted to call your LLC “Johnson Investments, LLC,” it would not be available if a business exists called “Johnson Investments, Inc.”

Making changes to the grammar of words in your LLC name, like using possessive, plural, or singular forms of words, also doesn't make the name distinguishable. If a business is called “Kiwi Farms, LLC,” the name “Kiwi Farm LLC” would be too similar. Modifying the articles, including “the,” “a,” and “an” is not distinguishable. Differences in articles such as “A” and “An” do not create distinguishability. If you want to name your LLC “Printing Press, LLC,” it would not be available if a company called “The Printing Press, LLC” already exists.

If you need help with a Maryland corporation search, 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 like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.