All businesses should complete an Iowa Business Name Search before forming an Iowa LLC.
We'll show you how to check LLC name availability in our Iowa Secretary of State Business Search guide below.
Need help forming an LLC? Read our Best LLC Services review.
Iowa Entity Search
1. Follow Iowa 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 Iowa's naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.
Iowa 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.
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.
For more information, check out the Iowa Secretary of State website.
Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.
2. Do an Iowa Business Name Search
Before filing your name reservation request, you can use Iowa’s Business Entity Search to check the availability of your desired name. 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 you can't find the name in your search, that means the name has not been taken and is available for you to use.
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 Iowa Business Entity Name
Iowa’s Secretary of State Business Services Division handles all LLC naming questions and requests. Business names can be reserved for a nonrenewable period of 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.
When reserving your name, you will have to pay a filing fee. Checks must be made out to the "Secretary of State." You can file either online or by mail, each option having its own advantages. While you will end up paying more if you file online, your application will be expedited and have a special priority. If you want to keep your filing costs down, you may want to consider filing a paper application by mail instead.
After choosing a name for your LLC, take the next step and create a unique logo with our Free Logo Generator.
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While reserving the name for your 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. 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 Iowa’s trademark records by searching the business entity search 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 LLC, and one that is incredibly easy to do. Once you have found your preferred name using Iowa'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 an Application for Reservation fo Name 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.