All Collections
Onboarding - Entity Services
New Entity Formation
Checking the Availability of your LLC Name
Checking the Availability of your LLC Name
Updated over a week ago

What you need to know

Before registering your LLC, it's important to ensure that your desired name is unique and not already in use by another business. Using a name that is already in use can lead to legal issues, including trademark infringement or business name disputes. Checking availability helps you avoid these potential conflicts and the associated legal costs.

Each state has its own database of registered business names, so it’s important to check the availability of your name in the state you wish to register in. If you plan to conduct business in multiple states, you don’t necessarily need to have your desired name available in the secondary state(s), but it’s good practice to check anyway. If your desired name isn’t available in the additional state(s), you can choose an alternate name for use in the additional state(s) only. Collective can then help you file a foreign registration.

Exact vs. partial name search

It's generally recommended to conduct both an exact name search and a partial search before registering your LLC. Here's why each is important:

  • Exact Name Search: This involves checking if the exact name you desire for your LLC is already in use by another business entity in your state. Registering an LLC with the exact same name as an existing business is usually not allowed.

  • Partial Name Search: In addition to checking for exact matches, searching for variations of your desired name (e.g. starts with, ends with, or contains part of your desired name) helps identify any existing businesses with names that are closely related to your desired name. Even if the exact name is not taken, using a name that is too similar to an existing business could still lead to legal challenges or brand dilution.

If you have a partial name match with another LLC, but your businesses are different, there are still potential risks to consider such as confusion among customers (including your online presence), trademark issues if the other LLC has trademarked its name, and the reputation of your business if the other LLC engages in unethical or illegal activities. It's important to carefully consider the potential risks and take appropriate steps to protect your business's reputation and legal standing when dealing with a partial name match with another LLC.

How to check availability

  1. Locate your state in the tables below. Most states allow you to search without creating a log-in, but there are a select few (noted below) that require a log-in and/or a small fee to conduct the search.

  2. If your state’s database uses a business name search, do not include the “LLC” suffix to your business name in your search. This will ensure that all variations of the name are found, including ones filed as corporations or other entity types. If your state’s database is a name availability search, enter the full LLC name with the “LLC” suffix.
    (Note: California is the only state that does not prevent an LLC from using the same name as a corporation.)

  3. Conduct both an exact name search as well as partial name search. The mechanisms for conducting a partial name search vary by state (for example, you may have to select “Advanced Search” options to access it).

  4. If your LLC name includes articles or conjunctions, perform different search variations with those words removed as you may receive different search results.
    (Articles and conjunctions are words like: the, and, or, a, an, but, for, etc. States call these “noise words” and in many cases, disregard them when it comes to determining if the name is distinguishable from other names on record. For example, a name like “Donut and Coffee LLC” is not usually seen as different from the name “Donut Coffee LLC”.)

  5. If the LLC name includes a number, search the name with the spelled out number (ex: “five”), the Arabic number (ex: “5”), and the Roman numeral (ex: “V”). You are likely to get different results.

  6. If you have multiple names in mind, repeat the same search processes above for each name to help inform your final choice.

  7. Once you’ve selected your name, let Collective know by entering the name in your onboarding questionnaire. Your LLC name is not guaranteed to be available for use; final name approval is up to the state reviewer. If your name was rejected, we will inform you via email and ask you to submit an alternate name.

State-specific search databases





Disclaimer: The information contained in this document is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or tax advice. It is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining accounting or other financial advice from an appropriate financial adviser or for the purpose of avoiding U.S. Federal, state or local tax payments and penalties.

Did this answer your question?