A Massachusetts corporation search is a way for you to get information on a corporation or business entity in the state. It's also a way to check the availability of a desired business name.

When first deciding to form an LLC in Massachusetts, you have to make sure your desired business name is available for use. The LLC name has to be unique and follow certain state requirements.

To get the most thorough search results, you should only search for part of the name you want to use. This way, you see everything that's potentially similar.

Your name has to end with one of the following:

Your chosen LLC name can't imply that it's a corporation, so you can't use the following words or abbreviations in your business name:

The name you choose must also be “distinguishable,” meaning it can't be too similar to existing entity names. 

Differences in designators — the identifiers at the end of a business name — don't create distinguishability. For example, you can't use the name “Smith Investments, LLC” if there's already an existing business named “Smith Investments, Inc.”

Grammatical differences don't create distinguishability. This includes variable forms of the same word, such as singular vs. plural vs. possessive. For example, if there's a business named “Green's Farm, LLC” (with an apostrophe “s”), you wouldn't be able to use the name “Green Farm, LLC”.

Other variations that don't create enough distinguishability include:

  • Differences in articles such as “a” or “an"
  • The use of conjunctions such as “and,” “or,” and the ampersand symbol
  • Using certain punctuation such as periods, hyphens, commas, slashes, etc.
  • Differences in numerical or written numbers
  • Names that are too similar to existing organized entities (“Speedy Delivery Services, LLC,” vs. "Speed Delivery Services, LLC”)

If your desired business name is unavailable because there's already a company with the same name or it's too similar to an existing name, you'll have to get creative and come up with a variation of the name. This makes it unique and distinct from existing businesses.

Other tips for choosing a good LLC name include: 

  • Make it simple to spell so that customers can easily find you.
  • Give the name a positive connotation to encourage good feelings in customers when they hear about your business.

The Massachusetts business database disregards capitalization, so you can omit it when entering names for a search.

If you're not completely sure that your desired name is distinguishable enough, file your paperwork with the state. If your chosen name is not available, the state will return your filing and let you know that the name needs to be changed

Massachusetts LLC Resident Agent

You'll need to choose a resident agent for your business before you file your Certificate of Organization with the state. A resident agent agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your company in the event someone sues your business. This agent can be a company or a person.

The agent can also receive payment reminders, business and tax notices, and other documents. A physical street address in the state is a requirement for a resident agent. P.O. Boxes are not allowed. In the event Service of Process comes, a resident agent must be available during normal business hours (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

Massachusetts uses the term “resident agent” instead of “registered agent” like most other states. The terms have the same meaning. You're allowed to be your company's resident agent. A family member or friend can also be your resident agent. Any resident agent who is an individual (including you, a family member, or friend) must be a resident of Massachusetts.

You have the option to hire a commercial resident agent. This offers a more private, reliable setup that gives you added freedom to be away from the business. If you move, you won't have to change the resident agent's address.

Visit the website for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for more information on corporation and business entity searches. The site provides valuable information for business owners, aspiring business owners, and inquisitive consumers.

If you need help with a corporation search in Massachusetts or another state, 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.