How to Legalize a Business Name in Louisiana

By Mark Kennan

In Louisiana, any time you use a name besides your own (or your business's registered name) for business, you have to register it with the Secretary of State. For example, if you want to run your own small business called "Donovan's Dogs," that's a trade name that must be registered with the state.

Name Availability Rules

Before you can register a name in Louisiana, make sure it isn't already taken. In Louisiana, names are checked against previously registered names of corporations, limited liability companies and other trade names for both spelling and pronunciation similarities. For example, if "Four Dears" is already taken, you can't register "For Deers." In addition, the trade name can't deceive the public into thinking a business is a charity or nonprofit. If a name was already registered, but that company had its license revoked, the name becomes available to the public again three years later.

Name Availability Check

You can search the Louisiana Business Filings for free using the Louisiana Secretary of State's website to make sure the name you want isn't already taken. In addition, you can contact the Secretary of State to run a second check for you before you send in your application. Requests to check for name availability can be made by calling (225) 925-4704, faxing a request to (225) 932-5314 or mailing a request to P.O. Box 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804.

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Trade Name Registration

Once you know the name is available, you can register it with the Louisiana Secretary of State by filing an Application to Register a Trade Name, Trademark or Service Mark. The application requires the name you want to register, the county you do business in, the name and address of the entity or person applying for the trade name, the type of business, the date you first used the trade name and the date you first used the name in Louisiana. The form must be signed and notarized before you mail it, along with the registration fee, to the Secretary of State. For an extra fee, you can request expedited processing so it will be approved within 24 hours of the Secretary of State receiving it.

Trade Name Reservation

If your business hasn't started yet but you don't want someone to take your name first, you can reserve a name for up to 60 days with the Secretary of State. The registration form requires the trade name you want to reserve and your name, address and phone number. The form must be signed, but notarization isn't required, when you mail it, along with the registration fee, to the Secretary of State. If you're in a hurry, you can pay extra for expedited processing to get it approved within 24 hours.

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