Washington DC Secretary of State Business Search
All businesses should complete a Washington DC business name search before forming a Washington D.C. LLC.
We'll show you how to check LLC name availability in our Washington DC Secretary of State Business Search guide below.
Need help forming an LLC? Read our Best LLC Services review.
Naming Your Washington D.C. LLC
1. Follow Washington D.C. Naming Guidelines
We recommend making sure your business name meets guidelines before completing your business name search.
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Washington D.C. naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.
Be sure to follow these 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.
Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.
2. Do a Washington D.C. Business Name Search
Before filing your name reservation request, you can use D.C.’s Business Entity Search to check the availability of your desired name. You will need to create an online account to perform this search.
To perform the most effective search, type in the name you would like to use, excluding identifiers like “LLC”, and leave all other boxes blank. This will return all entities using the same or similar names. If your business name is several words, you can even search just the first two words to ensure you pull up all possible similar names.
Be sure to conduct a thorough search before completing your paperwork to avoid rejection.
3. 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
4. Reserve Your Washington D.C. Business Entity Name
D.C.’s Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection handles all LLC naming questions and requests. Business names can be reserved for 120 days. If you have yet to form your business entity using the reserved name when the business name reservation expires, you may renew the name reservation.
To reserve a business name, you must file an application online or by mail. When reserving your name, you will have to pay a filing fee. Cheques must be made out to the “Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.”
After choosing a name for your LLC, take the next step and create a unique logo with our Free Logo Generator.
OPTION 1: File Online With the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection
- OR -
OPTION 2: File by Mail
Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection
P.O. Box 92300
Washington D.C. 20090
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Washington D.C. requires that your LLC name be distinguishable from other registered business entities in the state. Before filing your paperwork it is a good idea to do some additional research.
You’ll want to be sure your name or one very close to it is not being used by unregistered businesses such as sole proprietorships or partnerships, has not been trademarked by another business in your state or industry, and is otherwise available for use across the internet. This will help ensure you have full, unrestricted use of your business name.
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 D.C.’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.
Having a name for your business is an important first step for creating a successful Washington D.C. LLC, and one that is incredibly easy to do. Once you have found your preferred name using the District of Columbia's Business 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 Registration 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.
Now that you have your name, it's time to take the next steps to establish your LLC. Check out our full guide on how to form an LLC in Washington D.C., where we can guide you every step of the way.