1. What Is An LLC?
2. Naming a Virginia LLC

A VA LLC search is a means of finding out if your company is capable of operating in Virginia as an LLC. An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business operation that functions as both sole proprietorship or partnership and corporate filing. Since an LLC must be filed in a state that it will call home or operate in, studying the LLC laws of different states is important for figuring out the best places to register the company.

What Is An LLC?

An LLC is a special status that a business can operate under, allowing it access to certain advantages. An LLC designation grants protection to sole proprietorships and partnerships in the event of legal liability; an LLC is only legally responsible for the total of its own assets, rather than allowing the owners to be factored in as well. But at the same time, an LLC is taxed as though it were a sole proprietorship or partnership, allowing income to “pass through” to the owners, who then file it on their individual taxes. This differentiates the LLC from a corporation, which will have to pay a corporate income tax on its profits and then pay again on income taxes when it pays money out to its shareholders and employees.

Of course, since an LLC is a state entity, it has no status under IRS tax law. The LLC's tax policy applies only to state income taxes and the like. An LLC that has a single owner or a few partners can file its federal taxes as a sole proprietorship or a partnership; an LLC that files as a corporation can look to be treated as an S Corporation, as long as it meets the stringent requirements of that filing status, which would then let the income “pass through” on a federal level as well.

Naming a Virginia LLC

The first thing you'll need when filing your own Virginia LLC is a name. There are a few requirements here. First off, the LLC name must end with the initials LLC or L.L.C. The name cannot in any way suggest that the business is a corporation by using words like Corporation or Incorporated anywhere. It also has to be distinguishable from other businesses, which means that you cannot duplicate a name and that you can't have a name too similar to another business's name. An example of a name that would be a problem would be a word that another business uses as an acronym.

At the same time, you'll want to think about what your name says to your customers. Here are some tips to make sure your name makes the right impression:

  • Make the name memorable. An overly generic name doesn't just risk failing the distinguishability test, it also makes your potential customers unable to tell you apart from your competitors. There is no point to building a good reputation if the credit will go to someone else with a similar name.
  • Keep it punchy. A good name should not be so long that it is easier to remember. A short name can also save you on signage costs as well.
  • Offer a description. What makes your business different and better than the others? If there is a way to state or imply the difference quickly, include it in your name, and half the job of selling customers on your methods is already done.
  • Think about the business you are in. A tanning parlor can maybe get away with a fun name; a funeral parlor should probably play it safe.

You should run any candidates for names you come up with through the state database to make sure no one else has already had your idea. The search not only screens for whether another business has your exact name, but also for businesses with names that might be indistinguishable by the state standard from your proposed name. While searching for a name, you can also apply for a Certificate of Good Standing, which begins the process of registering your LLC; you can also pay the initial fees required electronically.

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