While registering your LLC may seem like an easy task at first sight, and it is so if done right, but various legal complications need to be checked. One of these complications is naming your LLC, and you can’t name your LLC the way you want. You have to first come up with a name that follows all the legal requirements, and then you have to make sure that the name is available to be registered.
In this article, we will take a detailed look at how you have to name your LLC, the legal requirements and processes that you need to follow, and how you can check the availability of the name you have planned for your LLC. By the end of this article, you should understand all the legal constraints around naming your LLC and selecting a name for your LLC that ticks all the boxes.
WHAT IS IN THE NAME?
It is a million dollars question – and the answer lies within the question, and it all depends upon what you want from the name of your LLC? Do you want to name your LLC because it is a legal requirement, or do you want to name your LLC in a way that stands out from the rest, tells people about the nature of your LLC and has a name that markets your LLC?
If you think that naming your LLC is just another box that you need to tick for registering your LLC, you couldn’t be more wrong. It carries a lot more weight to it than you think, and here is how:
- IT REPRESENTS YOUR BRAND
The name of your LLC will represent your brand, and only after it is named ideally can you expect a good representation. You won’t want your LLC name to be something that people forget quickly.
- IT IS YOUR TRADE NAME
LLC name is also referred to as the trade name, and rightly so. As an owner of an LLC, you’ll end up using your LLC’s name for everything. From setting the bank account for your LLC to signing your business contracts and representing your LLC in legal cases, the name of your LLC will follow you everywhere.
CHOOSING THE NAME RIGHT WAY
With all the legal complications, however, there is good news – you get to choose the name of your LLC. Hence, you can select a creative name as you want as long as it follows the constraints put by the business laws and the state where you are conducting business. It is essential to know that, while the basic rules for naming your LLC remain the same, detailed rules vary from state to state, and you have to follow the set of rules set by your state.
COMPLYING WITH LAWS
In the USA, the name of your LLC must be approved by the relevant state agency that handles the LLC filings. In the majority of the states, it is the secretary of the state office, but it could very well vary at certain places.
For as long as you comply with the set of rules set by your state, your name will be approved, and no objections will be raised. You should also know that only after the name of your LLC is approved, the secretary of state office will file the articles of organization of your LLC.
In this section, we have listed the generic rules for naming the LLC, and you should religiously follow these rules if you want the process of naming your LLC smoother and quicker:
- YOUR LLC NAME MUST DEPICT THAT IT IS AN LLC
It is the primary rule for naming your LLC. All states in the USA require that the name of LLC should include words or abbreviations in its name that show that the entity is an LLC. The majority of the LLCs are registered as such that their name is followed by the “LLC”, “LIMITED”, and “LTD” at the end, but it is not required that these abbreviations should come at the end of your LLC.
You can also just use the term “LLC” in the name of your LLC. As stated earlier, any term, abbreviation, or word will do as long as it clearly shows that the business is limited liability.
- YOUR LLC NAME SHOULDN’T BE MISLEADING
This rule is in line with the previous one. The name of your LLC shouldn’t have any word or symbol in it that could mislead people into believing that it is some other entity other than an LLC.
For example, the name of your LLC cannot contain words like “trustee,” “incorporated,” “inc.,” “bank,” “trust,” “corporation,” “insurance company,” “insurer,” or any other such words that could suggest that is a business other an LLC.
Similarly, apart from selecting a name that gives a wrong indication of the nature of the business, your LLC should also not include terms that provide a false impression of the affiliations of your LLC. For example, the name of your LLC cannot have words like “department,” “agency,” “commission,” “division,” “municipal,” “board,” or “bureau.”
- YOUR LLC NAME CAN’T BE SIMILAR TO AN EXISTING LLC IN YOUR STATE
It is a fundamental rule that everyone should know when trying to come up with a name for their LLC. No two LLCs can have one name within a state, and you can’t register your unless it has a unique name.
However, this should not be a big problem, as there are multiple ways to make the name unique. You can add one new word or replace the position of words to enable it for registration if it is similar to another LLC.
You should always expect that, and there is a high chance of it, that when you file your LLC name to the secretary of the state office, they find out that the name is already registered. However, now you can also check it before filing if your name is on the crossroads with the name of another LLC with the help of various online platforms.
Furthermore, if you want a name already registered, you can contact the owner of the LLC that has the name and pay them a specific price for having the name of their LLC. However, it is only possible if the other party agrees to change their name and let you use the name of their LLC.
Further, in certain states, you can forgo doing all of it yourself and leave it on the Secretary of State’s office, and they would do it for you. They may do so for free or charge a very minimal fee. In many states, you can put forward such requests online to the office of the secretary of the state, while some states follow the traditional mail request via postal services.
WHAT ABOUT SIMILAR NAMES BUT DIFFERENT STATES?
While it is certainly possible in many states that you can register your LLC with a name that already exists in another state, it is not an intelligent strategy, and you should avoid it. Especially with companies of enormous stature, it is always a headache. For example, McDonald’s regularly sues the business names that follow the prefix of Mc.
So, to stay away from any possible lawsuits, it is wise to choose a name that doesn’t sound or look like any other business name. Similarly, while LLC trademarks are an entirely different topic from the names of LLCs, you should follow the same strategy with trademarks.
PRO-TIPS FOR NAMING YOUR LLC
Apart from the legal guidelines, here are some tips that can do you good if you consider them when you are naming your business.
- Must check if the website domain with a similar name is readily available so that if you plan to operate a website for your business, it doesn’t cost you much time or money.
- Come up with a name that is unique and stands out from the rest. Such names last long in the head of clients and can help the branding of your business.
- Avoid using personal names when you are naming your LLC. They compromise your privacy and don’t do a good service for the branding of your LLC.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, I cover some of the frequently asked questions regarding the naming of your LLCs:
- HOW TO CHECK AN LLC NAME AVAILABILITY?
You can check it with the help of the secretary of the state office of your state. However, a quick way to check it is to do a business entity search within your state by checking Federal Trademark Record.
- HOW TO CHECK IF AN LLC NAME IS TAKEN?
In the majority of the states, the website of the state business filing agency offers an online entity name check tool. You can search if the name that you want to use for your LLC is already taken or if it is not, and you can use it.
- HOW TO CHECK IF AN LLC IS ACTIVE?
All you have to do is navigate to the Secretary of State website for where your LLC is registered and look for a “Businesses” or “Corporations” tab on their website. There, you can find the active LLCs and can look for your LLC.
- SHOULD YOU NAME YOUR LLC AFTER YOURSELF?
One-line advice would be: don’t name a company after yourself unless you have to. It compromises your privacy and does not offer much help in the branding of your LLC.