LLC Business Name Change

By Joseph Nicholson

The legal name of an LLC is the one submitted to the state on the Articles of Organization. It is the name that must be used for paying taxes, applying for licenses and permits, and for other legal functions. An LLC can amend its Articles of Organization to reflect a new name, and must inform state and federal agencies of the change. Alternatively, an LLC can simply register a fictitious name under which it conducts business.


Most states make it relatively easy to change the registered name of your LLC by simply filing a form amending the Articles of Organization and paying the appropriate filing fee. Prior to submitting the amendment, however, you should repeat the process you took in establishing the availability of the existing name. This means searching online state databases for registered names and fictitious names, as well as more general searches to see what names might be protected by trademark law. The new name must also comply with state laws on LLC names.


You’ll also have to inform the IRS of the name change. How this is done depends on how your LLC is taxed. If you have a single-member LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship, send a signed letter to the address where you file your taxes, informing them of the change. If your LLC is taxed as a partnership or corporation, indicate the name change on your tax return form. An LLC that's taxed as an S corp has to file Form 1120S, but a new EIN is not required.

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Rather than change the official registered name, another possibility is to register a fictitious name, also sometimes called a trade name, assumed name or d/b/a, or “doing business as.” Using a fictitious name is a common way for an LLC to participate in the marketplace under a name other than that under which it was originally registered. A fictitious name is not the official name of the business, however, and cannot be used on government forms. Where and how a d/b/a is registered depends on the state.

Other Steps

If your LLC is registered to do business in other states, inform these states if you change the legal name of the company. If the state has a form for domestic LLC name changes, it will likely also have a form for foreign LLC amendments. Additionally, inform suppliers, vendors and other organizations with whom you do regular business.

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How to Register a Trade Name With the United States Government

Business owners are not required to register trade names with the U.S. government, but registration offers several benefits. Registering your trade name prohibits other businesses from using the same trade name, and also provides a public record that you own the trademark to your trade name. This record can act as a deterrent to trademark infringement. Trade names are registered through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

How to Change the Name of an LLC With the IRS

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a form of business association that combines the pass-through taxation and flexibility of a partnership with the limited liability of a corporation. The Internal Revenue Service does not recognize LLCs for the purposes of federal taxation, instead classifying them as a corporation, sole proprietorship or partnership. If you have changed the name of your LLC, reporting your name change to the Internal Revenue Service generally only requires indicating this on the company’s yearly tax return.

How to Fill Out a W-9 for an LLC Disregarded Company

The Internal Revenue Service treats a single-member Limited Liability Company as a disregarded entity for federal income tax purposes. This means that the sole member of an LLC files his taxes in the same way that sole proprietors do. Nonetheless, single-member LLCs may receive certain types of payments that are reportable to the IRS by the payer on an information return, such as on a 1099 form. If your LLC receives one of these payments, in all likelihood, you’ll need to fill out a W-9 form for the payer.

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