New York Entity Search

To see if your desired LLC name is available, perform a New York entity search using the state of New York's online database. Simply navigate to the Department of State entity search page and input your name. You can choose to search for all businesses or only those currently on file.

After entering your LLC name into the search bar, click on “Search Database.” This will bring up a page of results. You can then search through them and click on any name for more information. Clicking on a business listed will bring up a separate page with its details. You can then view whether the business is active, where it's located, and whether it has stock information.

New York Secretary of State Website and Business/Corporate Services Division

The State Department is New York's main governing body. It's more commonly referred to as the Secretary of State. As of August 2017, the contact information on the New York Secretary of State website is up to date.

The Business/Corporation Division is a Secretary of State sub-department, which is responsible for forming, dissolving, amending, and recording information related to all businesses in New York.

How to Use the LLC Formation Section of the State's Division of Corporation Website

You can perform an LLC search on the State's Division of Corporation website Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Using the LLC formation link helps ensure your business name's distinguishability. To use the LLC Formation feature:

  • Click “LLC Formation” under “Online Filings.”
  • Click “Domestic Business Corporation and Domestic Limited Liability Company.”
  • Click the link titled “Articles of Organization for a Domestic Limited Liability Company.”
  • Enter your LLC business name exactly as you want it, including proper punctuation and capitalization.
  • If the name is distinguishable from all other businesses, the website will allow you to proceed.

State Contact Information

To contact the State, call 518-473-2492 during regular business hours or email corporations@dos.ny.gov.

Requirements and Restrictions in Forming an LLC Name

There are certain requirements and restrictions for choosing your LLC name. For instance, it must end with the words “Limited Liability Company” or the abbreviation “LLC” or “L.L.C.” An LLC name can in no way imply that it's a corporation. As such, you cannot have the words “corporation,” “incorporated,” “inc.,” or “corp.” anywhere in the name. Your LLC name must also be distinguishable from all others; it cannot be too similar to an existing business name.

There are certain things that do not add to an LLC name's distinguishability, including:

  • Designation differences (LLC vs L.L.C.)
  • Differences in singular, plural, or possessive word forms
  • Adding “and,” “or,” “&,” or other conjunctions
  • Changing punctuation, including periods, hyphens, commas, etc.
  • Changing numerical values to written numbers

Tips in Forming an LLC Name

To form the best LLC name, you must ensure yours is unique. If it's too similar to another entity, the name won't be available for you to use. Try to use some creativity when deciding on your business name.

Make sure your LLC name is easy to spell so people can remember it. Shorter names are also easier to remember. Always create a name with a positive connotation that gives people a good feeling when they hear it.

What is a DBA?

If you're a business owner who wishes to do business under a different name, you can file for a DBA, which is short for “doing business as.” For example, if “Joe's Hamburgers LLC” would like to do business as “Best Hamburgers in Town,” a DBA will allow it. There are, however, different requirements for DBA names in New York.

Limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and corporations must file a certificate in order to comply with the General Business Law's Section 130. Other entities, including sole proprietorships, limited liability partnerships, and general partnerships must file an Assumed Name Certificate with the county clerk.

When Do You Need a DBA?

New York requires businesses to use their legal names to conduct business. In some cases, a company may not want to use its real name to conduct business, so they must file for a DBA. DBAs are good for several reasons. They allow a business owner to open a bank account under a different name and help the business build up its brand in the community. To set up a DBA in New York, you should first check the database to ensure the name you want isn't in use.

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