Update for 2023: California Name Search Has Moved
New: California Secretary of State Bizfile Online Page
New: California’s New Bizfile Online Search Page
This post will show you how to easily search for available business names in California using the state’s free entity search tool.
Before you file the required documents for your new LLC, you will need to do an LLC name search first to check the name’s availability. You should make sure that the name you consider is unique and different from other LLCs operating within the state.
Visit the New California Business Entity Search Page
If your business is an LLC, there are some requirements to be aware of before searching. As for name requirements, most states say your LLC name can end with the abbreviations LLC, L.L.C., or Limited Liability Company.
Each state has its own requirements and guidelines. Most people choose LLC.
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The name must be distinguishable and clearly unique. For example, if there is a business entity named ABC Plumbers, Inc., ABC Plumbers, LLC would not be available. The name ABC Plumbers & Contractors, LLC would have a better chance of getting approved.
The final determination of a name’s availability is the State where the name is attempting to be registered.
Giving Your New Business a Name
When you name something, you get attached to it. Naming your soon-to-be business can only spur your decision forward. Backing out on the idea will be less of an option.
When forming a company, you and your co-founders need to brainstorm and decide on a few things, such as your business name.
There are three main ways to form a new business entity.
- Do it yourself
- Hire an attorney to do it for you
- Hire an affordable LLC filing service like ZenBusiness or Incfile
Before contacting the folks at Incfile, you need to:
- Come up with a name that hasn’t been used before. Visit the California Secretary of State website and enter the business name in the Business Name Search database.
- Even if unique or derivative, that name shouldn’t sound like an existing one as the California SOS would reject it.
- Ensure that the name does not violate any California state law.
- You can try calling the State Business Information Line at 916-653-3794 and ask them some business name-related questions you might have.
- For more info, visit the California Business Entities website.
How To Do A California Business Name Search
Visit the California Business Entity Search page.
In the “Search Type” section, enter the type of business and then in the “Search Criteria” section, enter a business name and select the search filter “Keyword” “Exact” or “Begins with” and then search. When searching for names in California, remember,
- Don’t enter LLC after the name or variations (LLC, L.L.C., etc.) while doing searches.
- Search for both the plural and singular versions of names. For example, if your LLC name has the word “Publishers” in it, also search with “Publisher.”
- Search the first 1-2 words of your LLC name at first. For example, if your desired LLC name is “Best Electrician Service LLC,” search for “Best Electrician” and continue searching with some variations.
- The point is to check for any potential name conflicts and develop a unique business name.
Searching the California database could take a bit of time. Still, with a few searches, you should get a pretty good idea about the business name’s availability that you are interested in registering.
The “Checking Name Availability” page gives instructions on requesting name availability by mail and a Prepay Priority Telephone Service. These are additional options to check name availability.
It’s important to note that even when a given business appears to be available, the California Secretary of State will do their own search to confirm availability. There could be name variations or abbreviations that could cause a conflict.
That’s how you can search for a business name in California. Again, the California Secretary of State will make the final determination on a business name’s availability.
California Secretary of State
Secretary of State
PO Box 944228
Sacramento, CA 94244-2280
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