California LLC Name Search
Completing an LLC name search is the first step in starting a California LLC. This will verify if your preferred LLC name is available and if it's already in use by a different business entity.
We'll help you perform a California LLC name search to check name availability.
Recommended: Northwest ($29 + State Fees) will register your business name when you form an LLC.
Check LLC Name Availability in California
1. Do a California Business Name Search
Check your business name with a California Entity Search. Select "Search Type", and input your name without "LLC".
For broad results, enter only the first two words. Avoid paperwork rejection with a thorough search.
2. Search Available Domain Names
Another important consideration to make when selecting a business name is whether or not your desired web domain name is available.
Having a URL that clearly matches your business name is important. This seemingly small step can make a big difference in how prospective customers find your business.
The best way to determine if your desired URL is available is to search for it online using your preferred domain registry, such as GoDaddy.
Find a Domain Now
3. Follow California Naming Guidelines
California has written into law certain guidelines that must be followed when naming an LLC or other type of business entity. These rules will help you come up with a clear and unique name for your LLC. The goal is to avoid confusion and correctly represent your business.
These same rules apply to a California fictitious business name.
Here are the California naming guidelines you must follow when selecting a name for your business:
General Naming Rules
Use the English alphabet, Arabic numerals (0-9), or a combination for your LLC's name. No distinction is made between upper and lower case letters, typeface, or font. Accent marks and subscript or superscript characters won't be recognized either.
Unique Name for LLC
Your LLC's name must be different from existing ones in the state. For instance, “Bed Time Rest Home, LLC” and “Bedtime Rest Home LLC” would be too similar.
These are the acceptable identifiers to indicate that your business is an LLC in California:
- Limited Liability Company
- Ltd. (for Limited)
- Co. (for Company)
Be careful not to confuse the public with your LLC's name. For example:
- Government Affiliation: Avoid names like 'Los Angeles County Sewer Commission' if there's no government link.
- Wrong Business Type: Do not use terms like 'Professional Corporation' or 'PC' unless your business is actually a professional corporation.
- False Insurance Claims: Words like 'insurance', 'reinsurance', 'assurance' or 'surety' can mislead unless your business is an insurer.
Typeface and Symbols
Names differing only in the use of upper or lower case letters, punctuation, or symbols are not seen as unique. For example, 'A & B Corporation' and 'A and B Corporation' would be considered the same.
Adding or removing a space can create a new word and make the name unique. For instance, 'Got Milk LLC' is different from 'Gotmilk, LLC’.
Registering Your California Business Name
When you're set to launch your California LLC, the process involves filling out the California Articles of Organization form where you’ll list your chosen name. This is adequate to register your LLC’s name within the state. In California, it's not mandatory to reserve a name in advance.
If you're still laying the groundwork and not quite ready to get started, it might be a good idea to register your preferred name so no one else can claim it. We’ll guide you through both scenarios.
Register Your California LLC Name
To register your business name in California is relatively simple. It only requires you to complete and submit the California Articles of Organization. This critical document will help you officially register your business name and begin your California LLC, an essential step in setting up your new enterprise.
The form comes with instructions on how to fill it out and pay the required state filing fee.
Recommended: Professional LLC formation services will handle the registration of your LLC name when they set up your LLC. To learn more, see our Best LLC Services review.
Reserve Your California Business Entity Name
California’s Secretary of State Business Entities Division handles all LLC naming questions and requests. California allows business name reservations for 60 days. Reservations can be renewed but not for consecutive 60-day periods.
There must be at least one day between each 60-day period. At this time, only applications by mail or in-person drop-off at the Secretary of State’s Sacramento office or Los Angeles regional office are accepted. It is not possible to email or reserve a business name online.
When reserving your name, you will have to pay a filing fee. Checks must be made payable to the "Secretary of State." An additional special handling fee is attached to in-person drop-off applications, which must be remitted by a separate check.
After choosing a name for your LLC, take the next step and create a unique logo with our Free Logo Generator.
California Name Reservation Form
File Online with the State of CaliforniaFile Online
- OR -
File by Mail or In-PersonDownload Form
Fee: $10 (online or by mail), $20 (in-person)
Secretary of State, Atten: Name Availability Unit
1500 11th Street, FL. 3
Sacramento, CA 95814
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
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While reserving the name for your California LLC is straightforward, there are some other things you should think about when choosing the best name for your business. You may want to do a Trademark and Social Media search for your name to see if it's available for use across the internet. These California business resources will help ensure you have full, unrestricted use of your business name. You'll also need a business bank account and registered agent.
Conducting a trademark search of your business name and associated slogans or logos before registering can help prevent costly litigation in the future. Discovering that another entity has trademarked your business name does not automatically disqualify you from using it.
However, it is important to know who is using the name, what industry they operate in, and where they are located to be sure you do not inadvertently infringe upon anyone’s intellectual property rights.
To complete this step:
- Search California’s trademark records to see if your business name or associated slogans, logos, or others are in use by another business in your state.
- Search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to find any federally registered trademarks associated with your business name.
Social Media Search
Just as important, or more so, than finding a domain name that fits your business is ensuring that your business name is available for use across social media platforms. You can do this by simply searching your business name on each major site, or use a tool such as Namecheckr to search across all platforms at once.
Business Bank Account
It’s best to wait to open a business bank account until after your LLC has been formed. The reason for this is that your LLC’s name must be registered with the state before you can open a business bank account. If you open a business bank account before registering your LLC’s name, there’s a chance that your business name will be rejected by the bank.
So, if you’re forming an LLC in California, make sure to register your LLC’s name with the state first.
If you're starting a limited liability company (LLC) in California, you'll need to appoint a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or business that agrees to receive legal papers on behalf of your LLC. This gives the LLC a physical presence in the state and ensures that someone is available to accept service of process if the LLC is sued.
You can search for registered agents on the California Secretary of State website. To find a registered agent, enter the name of the business entity you're looking for in the "Search by Entity Name" field and select "Registered Agent" from the drop-down menu. The results will show the registered agent's name and address.
It's important to choose a registered agent that you trust and that will be reliable in accepting service of process on your behalf.
Having a name for your business is an important first step for creating a successful LLC, and one that is incredibly easy to do. Once you have found your preferred name using the California Entity Search, you'll want to secure your domain name so that your customers will be able to find your business online. Reserving your name with a Name Reservation Form will help you stand out from the competition. With your name secured, you will be ready to take the next steps to formalize your LLC.
California Business Entity Search FAQs
To find an LLC in California, start by going to the Secretary of State's website and selecting "Businesses" from the top menu. Then, select "Business Search." On the Business Search page, you can search for an LLC by name or file number. You can also narrow your search by entity type and status by the advanced search function.
If you know the name of the LLC you're looking for, enter it in the "Name" field and select "Search.
If you need to find your California LLC number, there are a few ways to do so. The first place to look is on your formation documents. If you formed your LLC through the California Secretary of State’s office, they will have assigned you a number when they approved your Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Formation.
If you can’t find your number on your formation documents, you can try searching for it online. The California Secretary of State's website has a searchable database of all businesses registered in the state. You can also try contacting the California Secretary of State directly and asking for your LLC’s number.
Finally, if you still can’t find your LLC number, you can always contact the Internal Revenue Service.
It is possible for two business entities to have the same name as each other if they are organized as different business structures. For example, there could be a corporation named ABC Company and an LLC named ABC Company.
When you form a limited liability company (LLC) in California, you must choose a name for your business. This name is typically the legal name of your company and will be used on all official documents. However, you may also operate your LLC under a different name, known as a fictitious business name (FBN).
If you want to use an FBN for your LLC, you must first file a certificate with the county clerk's office in the county where your LLC is located. Once the certificate is filed, you can start using your FBN.
If you're not sure what name to use for your LLC, or if you want to see if another business is already using the name you have in mind, you can search for FBNs online. The Secretary of State's website has a searchable database of all businesses registered in California.
Yes, a California Limited Partnership (LP) and a California Limited Liability Company (LLC) can have the same name. The California Secretary of State does not require LPs and LLCs to have different names.
However, we recommend that you choose a unique name for your business to avoid confusion with existing businesses.
The State of California code requires business names to be different enough not to confuse them with other business entity names. Check how different your LLC name is from other business entities by always doing a California business entity search first.