How to Register a Business Name in South Dakota

To register a business name in South Dakota, you must first check to make sure your name is available by doing a business entity name search, domain name search, and a Federal Trademark search. Afterward, you must figure out what you need to do with that name for your business, whether you’re going to reserve it, file for a business with it, or file for a DBA using our step-by-step instructions.


Steps to Register a Business Name in South Dakota:

Follow these three steps to register a business name in South Dakota:

  1. Make sure the business name is unique
  2. Determine your business entity naming needs
  3. Register the business name in South Dakota

If you don’t have a business name in mind or find out the one you had in mind has already been taken by another business, check out our How to Name a Business guide to learn what makes a good name. You can also use our Business Name Generator to get some help coming up with one.

Step 1: Make Sure the Business Name is Unique

The first step in registering a new business name is to make sure it's unique, meaning that no one else in your state has formed a company with, or reserved, that name. You can do this by searching the following things:

South Dakota Business Name Search

The first search you will need to perform is with the business name availability search on the South Dakota Secretary of State website. This is the most important step in the process because if you try to file for a name that is already taken, your filing will be denied.

Search requirements can vary depending on your business needs. For example, a unique and available name is required for:

  • Filing for formal business structures like LLCs and corporations
  • Filing a name reservation for an LLC or corporation before filing
  • Filing a DBA for an existing business, both formal and informal

Domain Name Search

We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL) too. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring it. It’s free to search.

Find a Domain Now

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Federal Trademark Search

Next, a quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System will tell you whether someone else has already trademarked your name. Once you know the name is available, you can choose to apply for a trademark for your business, although the cost is sometimes too high for a startup or fledgling business.

Regardless of whether you will be registering, 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 Name article.

Search the Web

Finally, when doing your research, it’s a good idea to check and see what else comes up when you search your prospective business name online on sites like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Doing this will show you who else will show up on these platforms, whether they have a large online presence, and how tough they may be to compete with while you’re building your brand. 

It’s also smart to see if anyone else in your industry already has a similar name to the one you want to use. You can do this by looking up some search terms related to your industry and brand. You may decide on a different business name to make yourself stand out.

Step 2: Determine Your Business Entity Naming Needs

Now that you know how to find a unique name, you’ll need to know what to do with one. This will be different based on your chosen business entity.

If you haven’t already chosen one, choosing the best business structure for your new venture is an important step because different business structures have different benefits, disadvantages, and naming rules.

Business structures can be formal or informal and are the way that your business is set up, operated, and taxed. We cover all the following naming needs for the following business structures:

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is the simplest way of structuring your business to protect your personal assets in case your business is sued. LLCs require unique names in South Dakota that must follow certain naming requirements:

  • Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or “limited company” or one of their abbreviations (LLC, L.L.C., LC, or L.C.). “Limited” may be abbreviated as “Ltd.,” and “company” may be abbreviated as “Co.”
  • Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
  • In some states, certain restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual to be part of your LLC.
  • Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in the state. This includes South Dakota reserved names.

You can also read the South Dakota state statute about LLC naming guidelines on the South Dakota Legislature’s website.

Common LLC Naming Scenarios:

What you will need to do with your LLC’s name depends on if you are already in business or are forming a new LLC. For step-by-step instructions of common LLC naming scenarios, skip ahead to:

Corporations

A C Corporation (C Corp) is a separate legal entity from its owners with a basic operational structure consisting of shareholders, officers, directors, and employees. A C Corp business structure will protect your personal assets. Corporations require a unique name in South Dakota and must meet certain naming requirements:

  • Your name must contain the word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or “limited;” an abbreviation of one of these terms; or words or abbreviations of the same meaning in a different language.
  • Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in the state. This includes South Dakota reserved names.
  • Your name cannot imply that the corporation was organized for any unlawful purpose or one not outlined in its Articles of Incorporation.

You can also read the South Dakota state statute about corporation naming guidelines on the South Dakota Legislature’s website.

Common Corporation Naming Scenarios

What you will need to do with your corporation’s name depends on if you are already in business, or are forming just forming the business. For step-by-step instructions of common corporation naming scenarios, skip ahead to:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest business type in South Dakota. A sole proprietorship is an informal business structure that doesn’t provide personal asset protection and does not need to be filed with the state.

This business structure must operate under the surname of the owner. To use a different name, the business owner must file for a DBA (Doing Business As), known in South Dakota as a DBA business name

General Partnership

General partnerships are similar to sole proprietorships. The difference is that a partnership consists of two or more people. A general partnership is an informal business structure that doesn’t provide personal asset protection.

General partnerships must include the surnames of the partners. To use a different name, business owners must file for a DBA (Doing Business As), known in South Dakota as an DBA business name.

Step 3: Register the Business Name in South Dakota

Now that you know your business name is unique, and what you want to do, here’s how to get the following actions done:

How to File a Name Reservation in South Dakota

A name reservation is not required to be filed to open a new company or file for a DBA in South Dakota.

However, there are benefits to filing a South Dakota name reservation, like if you find a unique name for your business but do not want to form your LLC or corporation right away.

You can file for a South Dakota name reservation by filing an Application for Reservation of Name for corporations or an Application for Reservation of Name for LLCs with the South Dakota Secretary of State. The filing fee is $25.

How to Form an LLC in South Dakota

Registering a business name is part of the LLC filing process: once your LLC is filed in the state, your name is registered. While the name can be reserved beforehand, this is not necessary to file for an LLC.

Forming an LLC in South Dakota is easy and only requires five simple steps:

  1. Naming Your South Dakota LLC (If you’ve gotten this far, you should already be set!)
  2. Choosing a Registered Agent in South Dakota
  3. Filing the South Dakota Articles of Organization
  4. Creating an Operating Agreement
  5. Getting an EIN
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Form an LLC in South Dakota using our free step-by-step guide, or have a professional service form your LLC.

How to Form a Corporation in South Dakota

Registering a business name is part of the corporation filing process: once your corporation is filed in South Dakota, your name is registered. While the name can be reserved beforehand, this is not necessary to file.

Forming a corporation in South Dakota is easy and only requires a few steps:

  1. Naming Your South Dakota Corporation (If you’ve gotten this far, you should already be set!)
  2. Choosing a Registered Agent in South Dakota
  3. Choosing your Corporation's Initial Directors
  4. Filing the South Dakota Articles of Incorporation
A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Form a Corporation in South Dakota using Startup Savant’s free step-by-step guide, or have a professional incorporate your business.

How to File a DBA in South Dakota

Filing a DBA (Doing Business As), known as an DBA business name in South Dakota, allows your existing or new business to do business as a name other than your legal business name. This can be helpful for getting a brand name established, or to change the name of a business without having to file an amendment to the original filing.

A DBA can be filed by all business structures covered in this article; however, LLC and corporation filing is different than filing for sole proprietorships and general partnerships.

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

Recommended: Read our full guide on How to File a DBA in South Dakota.

Or, use a professional service to file your DBA for you.

Submit an Amendment to the Legal Name of an Existing Business

To change the legal name of your business, file an Application for Amended Articles of Organization or an Application for Amended Articles of Incorporation with the South Dakota Secretary of State. Both must be mailed in along with the $60 filing fee.

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