NAMING YOUR WISCONSIN LLC
1. Wisconsin's LLC Naming Guidelines
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with Wisconsin naming requirements and that potential clients can search for.
Be sure to follow these naming guidelines:
- Your entity name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your entity name cannot include words that could confuse your Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin LLC.
- Your name must be distinguishable from any Wisconsin corporation, limited liability partnership, or limited partnership.
- For example, Sample Business LLC, Sample Business LLP, Sample Business LP, and Sample Business Inc. are all indistinguishable.
For a complete list of LLC naming rules in Wisconsin, read their Limited Liability Company Statute.
Not sure what to name your business? Check out our LLC Name Generator.
2. Wisconsin Business Entity Search
Before filing your name reservation request, you can use Wisconsin’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.” 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. Wisconsin also offers a specific Name Availability Search.
Be sure to conduct a thorough search before completing your paperwork to avoid rejection.
3. URL Availability
Another important consideration to make when selecting an entity 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.
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
4. Reserving an Entity Name
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions' Division of Corporate and Consumer Services handles all LLC naming questions and requests. Business names can be reserved for 120 days.
To reserve a business name, you must file an application by mail. When reserving your entity name, you will have to pay a filing fee. Checks must be made out to the “Department of Financial Institutions.” Expedited services are available for an additional fee.
Wisconsin Name Reservation Application
Fee: $15 (additional $25 for expedited service)
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower
Madison, WI 53705
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While reserving an entity name for your Wisconsin 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 entity name to see if it's available for use online. This will help ensure you have full, unrestricted use of your business name.
Conducting a trademark search of your entity 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:
- Do a Wisconsin trademark search to see if your entity name or associated slogans, logos, or others are in use by another business in your state. You’ll need to create an account with the Department of Financial Institutions.
- 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 online social media platforms. To do this, search for your business name on each major site, using 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 entity name using Wisconsin'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 entity name with a Name Reservation Application 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 Wisconsin LLC.