Choosing a name for your limited liability company (LLC) is an important process. You'll want a name that conveys the type of work you'll be doing, a name that is memorable, and a name that has the right feel to it. In addition, you'll also have to comply with state LLC naming regulations and federal trademark rules.
Every state has its own laws regarding LLC names. In general, though, all states require that the company indicate it is an LLC in its name. Because of this, you'll have to include one of the following in your LLC's name:
- Limited Liability Company
The rules in each state are different, so check your state requirements to find out which you must use.
LLC Name Restrictions
The IRS places restrictions on the types of businesses that can form as LLCs. Banks and insurance companies cannot form an LLC. Professional partnerships such as doctors and lawyers also cannot form LLCs and must form professional limited liability companies (PLLCs) instead. States can prohibit the use of certain words in the name of an LLC, including profanity, obscenity, or names that are misleading. Misleading names might be those that contain the words "corporation" or "corp." or which suggest the LLC is part of the government. Names that promote illegal activity are also not permitted.
Once you've settled on a name for your LLC, you'll need to make sure that it is not being used by another business. Most states have free name search databases on their websites that allow you to check to see if the name you want is taken by another business in that state. You will need to run a search on this database before you reserve your name. You also need to be sure that the name has not been trademarked by another business with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO has a free database of registered trademarks that you should search. The law also protects unregistered trademarks from infringement, and you can search a free database of those names at the Thomas Register.
Changing LLC Names
There may come a time when you decide you want to do business using another name. You have a couple of options. You can do business under a DBA ("doing business as") name. Your company will file DBA paperwork with your state, county, or municipality to indicate that your company will be doing business under another name. There is normally a small filing fee for this form. Another option is to change the legal name of your LLC. You can do this by filing an amendment form with your state to change the LLC's name. Before changing the name, you'll want to be sure to do a complete name search. There is normally a fee associated with a name change form. Check with your state for the appropriate form and fee.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.