Searching for LLC names is accomplished by contacting a state government agency that oversees the formation of limited liability companies. Each state has its own agency, such as the Secretary of State in California and the Department of State in Delaware. Searching LLC names in the state where you intend to form an LLC, before drawing up any papers, will save you time.
Locate the agency in your state that is responsible for approving the creation of business entities, such as LLCs or corporations. A list of links to the website of the agency in each state is provided on the U.S. Small Business Administration website.
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Locate the name availability search engine or business name search engine on your state agency's website. Most state agencies, like California and Delaware, provide an online search engine for searching the agency records for existing business names. If an online search engine is not available, check the agency's website for information on how to make a name search inquiry by mail or telephone. There may be a fee associated with the search.
Insert the LLC name you want to search as indicated in the search engine instructions. Choose the option to search the name against other LLC names currently on record with the state agency. You should either be provided with names that match, or closely match, the name you inserted or "no record found" – which means you can use the name for your LLC.
If you determine that the LLC name you searched is available for use, but you are not ready to create the LLC, you can reserve the name by submitting the appropriate form and fee to the state agency. The length of time you can reserve the name varies by state. For example, in South Carolina, you can reserve the name for 120 days as opposed to California where it can only be reserved for 60 days.
- U.S. Business Administration: Registering Your Business at State Agencies
- California Secretary of State: Business Search
- Delaware Department of State: Division of Corporations - Name Availability Search
- California Secretary of State: Checking Name Availability
- South Carolina Secretary of State: Business Filing FAQs
Joe Stone is a freelance writer in California who has been writing professionally since 2005. His articles have been published on LIVESTRONG.COM, SFgate.com and Chron.com. He also has experience in background investigations and spent almost two decades in legal practice. Stone received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.