When you are forming an LLC, one of the first steps you must take is Choose a name that will represent your business.
In this article, we explain step by step how to register your business name and other name registration requirements you may need to navigate.
What is the legal name for a limited liability company?
The LLC’s legal name is used by your state to identify your business. The name you choose will appear on the LLC (aka incorporation).
As a business entity, you can change your LLC’s legal name as often as you choose, however, you can only have one legal name at any given time.
Let’s take a look at the process of registering a trade name for an LLC.
Step 1: Find out the required words
Most state business entity laws or regulations require that the name of the LLC, as stated in your formation document, contain specific words, phrases, or an abbreviation that indicates the type of entity you are forming.
For example, the name of your limited liability company (LLC). He should Include the words “limited liability company,” the letters “LLC,” “LLC,” or another phrase indicating that your entity is an LLC. Most states limit the exact word or phrase you must use.
Step 2: Avoid restrictive words
Many states prohibit the use of certain words or phrases in a legal business name. There are some terms that are considered inappropriate or may mislead the public.
For example, a state may not allow you to use the term “insurance” in your legal business name if it is not an insurance company. Alternatively, the state may require you to obtain approval from the department that handles business licensing for insurance companies before allowing the word to be used as a limited liability company (LLC).
Step 3: Conduct a trademark search
Trademark infringement can be a costly mistake, and one that can be easily done. This is because state filing offices do not check trademark records of federal, state, or common law to determine whether a business name is recognizable. They only check the filing records of state business entities to use the same name. If there is no conflict, they will agree to register the name.
Step 4: Check if the name is available
Some states require that the LLC’s name be “distinguishable in the records” of the Secretary of State (or similar office) from the names of other LLCs (domestic or foreign) and other business entities. Basically, the name of your LLC cannot be the same or similar to the name of another LLC registered in that state’s database.
There are variations to this rule. For example, some state laws require that the name of the business entity not conflict with the name of a business entity in a similar field or industry. Others completely prohibit any conflict with all business entities that register with the state.
Check if your LLC name is available by performing a name search on the website for your state formation. You can also call the registry office and ask about name availability.
If the name is available, you can apply for it Name reservation. This guarantees your rights to the name and prevents another entity from forming or reserving an LLC using the same name. You can usually reserve a business name for 120 days.
Step 5: Register your LLC name with the Secretary of State
When you file your Articles of Organization or formation documents with the Secretary of State, most states also require you to register your business name.
If you are an existing LLC, you can change the legal name of your entity and register a new name by filing Amendment Clauses or their state equivalent. (Note: The name change must be approved by the owner/members of your LLC and adhere to the rules outlined in Steps 1 to 4 above).
Step 6: Register your domain name (optional)
To register a website as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you will first need to register a domain name (also known as a website address or URL) through the domain name registrar service. If you are using a web creation service, a domain name registration service may be included as part of the offer. Instead, see List accredited registrars And select one based on pricing (including renewals), data privacy, security, reviews, and more.
If you can’t find the appropriate domain name, see the registrant’s help facilities. They may be able to suggest an available name similar to your choice.
Step 7: Register the Assumed Name for the LLC or DBA (Optional)
A Doing Business As (DBA) name (also known as a trade name or assumed name) is a separate name from the LLC’s legal business name. For example, if the legal name of your LLC is “Wilson and Wilson Nail Parlor,” you can file a DBA to conduct business as “Lush Nail Bar.” This assumed name can be used on banners, on your website, and in other marketing materials.
To file a DBA, do a name search, complete the appropriate forms and fees, and submit them to your state, county, or both. Upon receipt, you will receive a DBA certificate.
Read more at: What is db? (and how to register).
Step 8: Register the LLC Name as a Trademark (Optional)
Trademarking protects your business name and logo from infringement by another company or entity. You can register for a trademark with United States Patent and Trademark Office or use the services of an intellectual property attorney or trademark registration.
For more information, see What is the brand?