Business Name Search

You can look up an existing business entity or find out if the business name you want is available by completing a business search with the Secretary of State.

Our Business Name Search guide will give you instructions for looking up all business types, including corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs).

Recommended: If you are forming an LLC, visit our Form an LLC guide for step-by-step instructions, including how to search and register your LLC name.


LLC Name Search

When you register your LLC, you’ll need to complete a name search, follow the naming guidelines, and then complete the LLC registration documents to officially register your name.

We also recommend searching domain names and trademarks at this time.

Complete a Business Search

When you form an LLC, you have to make sure your business name is available and distinguishable from other business names.

To verify that your business name is unique, you’ll need to complete a business entity search in your state.

If you find that your business name isn’t available, we recommend taking a look at our LLC Name Generator tool and our How to Name Your Business guide for help with coming up with a unique name.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Complete a domain name search to make sure your domain name is available.

GoDaddy

US Trademark Search

A quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System will tell you whether someone else has trademarked your name. The cost of trademarking a name is usually too high for a startup business, but it’s good to know if your name is already taken.

To learn more about trademarks and the steps you will need to get one, read our How to Trademark Your Business guide.

Follow LLC Naming Guidelines

Most LLC filing rejections are due to business name issues. This happens when the name isn’t distinguishable enough from other business names or when the name doesn’t meet state guidelines.

General State Naming Guidelines:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

In most states, your business name is officially registered when your LLC is approved. Use our free step-by-step Form an LLC guide to get started.

Form an LLC

Corporation Search

When you register a corporation, you’ll need to complete a name search, follow naming guidelines, and then complete corporation registration documents to officially register your name.

We also recommend searching domain names and trademarks at this time.

Complete a Business Search

When you start a corporation, you have to make sure your business name is available and distinguishable from other business names.

To verify that your business name is unique, you’ll need to complete a business entity search.

If you find that your business name isn’t available, we recommend taking a look at our Business Name Generator tool and our How to Name Your Business guide for help with coming up with a unique name.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Complete a domain name search to make sure your domain name is available.

GoDaddy

Follow Corporation Naming Guidelines

Most business filing rejections are due to business name issues. This happens when the name isn’t distinguishable enough from other business names or when the name doesn’t meet state guidelines.

General Corporation Naming Rules:

  • Your name must contain the word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “limited” or an abbreviation of one of these terms.
  • Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in your state.
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your corporation with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

In most states, your business name is registered when your corporation is approved. Use our free step-by-step Start a Corporation guide to get started.

Start a Corporation

Business Search FAQ

How do I name a small business?

Naming a small business is often a do-it-yourself job. Small business startup budgets usually won’t support hiring someone to help name your business. For easy step-by-step instructions on naming your small business, visit our How to Name a Business guide.

How do I come up with a catchy business name?

The first step to naming your business is figuring out what business structure you will use for your new company. After that, you will brainstorm at least 4-5 possible names. The more you brainstorm the better. Once you have some names, you can test the names against best practices, name availability, and state guidelines.

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.

Should you name your business after yourself?

Naming your business after yourself has its benefits. Unless you have a name like John Smith, your name can help you find a .com domain name. If you are coming up with innovative ideas or a new approach, using your name can help create a strong brand.

There are also reasons NOT to name your business after yourself. If you don’t want to be the face and name of your business, it won’t work. If your type of client or customer base would prefer a company name, then you should give them a company name to work with.

If you want your business to someday run on its own, without you working there every day, then you shouldn’t use your name.

Can I sell my trademark or buy someone else’s?

Yes, you can sell or buy a trademark. A trademark is considered intellectual property which means it can be sold like property. It’s important to consult with an attorney before buying or selling intellectual property, especially trademarks.

Is my trademark application public?

Yes, your trademark application, including your personal identification information, is public. By law, your trademark information must be easily searchable by the public.

Where should I buy a domain name?

Our top choice in web hosting and domain registrars is GoDaddy. We like their domain search tool— you can search for the exact name you want or make suggestions based on keywords and available names. There are also several other companies to choose from that will provide a good experience.

Visit GoDaddy to search for domain names.

Can I put the word “company” in my business name?

You can only use the word “company” in your business name if your business is a corporation.

Do I have to write “LLC” after my company name?

If you choose to use a limited liability company structure for your new business, most states will require that you use LLC after the name. You can also use the full term limited liability company.

If you are marketing your business, you usually don’t have to use LLC after the name.

Business Search Resources