Recently one of my startup business clients asked me, “Does my LLC name have to match my business name or website name? Many entrepreneurs are confused about LLC names. To help you, I have compiled advice from attorneys and startup experts to answer your LLC name questions.
Your LLC name does NOT have to BE your business name or MATCH your website name. Your LLC name is your company’s legal entity name while your business name is your brand name to market to your customers. However, you WILL need to include the designation LLC in your business name on your State business registration application.
Read on to learn if your LLC name needs to be included in your business name, what are the legal requirements for LLC names, and also if you should add your LLC name to your business cards or website.
How to Name Your LLC: Legal Regulations & Rules
Every US State has slightly different rules regarding LLC names, however, these legal regulations and rules are common to the majority of States.
State differences tend to be slight such as allowing different abbreviations for LLC such as; L.L.C. or L.C. Some states list more disallowed professional terms if unrelated (unrelated to your type of products) including Underwriters, Surety, Trust, Insurance, Realtor and Attorney.
- Must include one of these words; Limited Liability Company, LLC or LC, to indicate that your business legal entity is an LLC
- Cannot match an existing LLC name – Your LLC name must be unique to your company and cannot be the same as one already registered with your State.
- Cannot contain words for other business entity types such as DBA, incorporated or corporation – which would be misleading to consumers.
- Cannot contain words unrelated to your business products or services – such as a bank, medical, or legal – if your company does not provide these services. If you are planning to start one of these types of businesses, consider forming a Professional LLC called a PLLC.
Wondering if your domain name and business name should match?
Here is my expert advice that I give my marketing clients
LLC Name vs Business Name Uses
|Name Usage||LLC Name||Business Name|
(Or trading name, trade name)
|EXAMPLE||ABC Partners LLC||Alex Bill & Cindy Caterers|
|YES||YES – must include LLC within business name such as this:|
Alex Bill &
Cindy Caterers, LLC
|Bank Accounts & Credit Cards||YES||NO|
|Vendor Credit Applications||YES||NO|
|Logo||YES and NO – more details||YES|
|Website||YES and NO – more details||YES|
Search for LLC Name Availability
As you learned above, one of the legal requirements and rules for LLC names is that they must be unique and not taken by another business registration in your State.
Here’s how you can can search:
- DIY LLC Name Search – Use your State’s business registration database and search for your LLC name availability. Use my links to your US State LLC Name databases
Know that there are complex legal rules that differ by State. These types of slight word variations listed below do not qualify as creating distinguishability and thus will not be acceptable as LLC names uniqueness because they are deceptively similar:
- Single, Plural and Possessive Words
- A, An or The
- And, Or and &
- Hyphens, Periods and Commas
FYI: If you want to change the domain name on an existing website – it IS possible.
Links to US States LLC Name Search Databases
Alabama Secretary of State: Business Entity Records
Alaska Division of Corporations: Search Corporations Database
Arizona Corporation Commission: eCorp Business Entity Search
Arkansas Secretary of State: Business Entity Search
California Secretary of State: Business Search
Colorado Secretary of State: Business Database Search
Connecticut Secretary of State: Business Registry Search
Delaware Division of Corporations: Business Entity Search
Florida Department of State: Search Records
Georgia Secretary of State: Business Search
Hawaii Business Registration Division: Search for Businesses
Idaho Secretary of State: Business Search
Illinois Secretary of State: Corporation & LLC Search
Indiana Secretary of State: Business Search
Iowa Secretary of State: Business Entities Search
Kansas Secretary of State: Business Entity Search Station (BESS)
Kentucky Secretary of State: FastTrack Business Organization Search
Louisiana Secretary of State: Business Filings Search
Maine Secretary of State: Corporate Name Search
Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation: Business Entity Search
Massachusetts Corporations Division: Business Entity Search
Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs: Business Entity Search
Minnesota Secretary of State: Search Business Filings
Mississippi Secretary of State: Business Name Search
Missouri Secretary of State: Business Entity Search
Montana Secretary of State: Business Search
Nebraska Secretary of State: Corporate & Business Search
Nevada Secretary of State: Business Search
New Hampshire Secretary of State: Business Search
New Jersey Division of Revenue: Business Entity Name Search
New Mexico Secretary of State: Business Search
New York Division of Corporations: Corporation & Business Entity Database
North Carolina Secretary of State: Business Search
North Dakota Secretary of State: Business Search
Ohio Secretary of State: Business Name Search
Oklahoma Secretary of State: Business Entities Search
Oregon Secretary of State: Business Name Search
Pennsylvania Department of State: Business Entity Search
Rhode Island Secretary of State: Search for an Entity
South Carolina Secretary of State: Business Name Search
South Dakota Secretary of State: Business Information Search
Tennessee Secretary of State: Business Information Search
Texas Comptroller: Taxable Entity Search
Utah Secretary of State: Business Name Search
Vermont Secretary of State: Business Search
Virginia State Corporation Commission: Business Entity Search
Washington Corporations & Charities Filing System: Advanced Business Search
Washington D.C. Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs: Business Filings Search
(you need to create a CorpOnline account)
West Virginia Secretary of State: Business Entity Search
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions: Search Corporate records
Wyoming Secretary of State: Search for Business Names
FAQ: LLC Names
Do I need to put LLC on my business cards?
In most States, it is not legally required to included your LLC designation on your business cards, however, it could be an advantage to add LLC onto your business cards.
Including your full business name with LLC communicates to clients your professionalism. It also notifies them that they are engaging in business with a legal entity – your LLC – and if they choose to sue your company they will not be able to get your personal assets.
Most brand name companies do not elect to include LLC on their business cards because they want customers to focus on their branding message.Do I need to put LLC on my website?
No and yes.
No, you do not have to include LLC in your company name on your graphic banner headers on your website pages. Here is where you focus on your brand name.
In most cases, no you should not include LLC in your logo. Logos are visual representations of your branding messages and do not need to contain extra legal abbreviations to get in the way.
Some professions and States require including LLC in logos for attorneys, bankers, and insurance agents. Check with your business lawyer.
- How to Get a Website NameWhile everyone is talking about how to build a website, do you just want to…
- 4 Ways to Update Your Business WebsiteYour business website is the shop window for your business. Whether you are a bricks…
- Differences Between Business and Domain Name: Should They Match?Many of my small business owner clients ask about the differences between business and domain…
- DBA vs LLC: Which is Best for Your New Business Startup?If you are ready to start your own business, you want to know which business…
- FAQ: Do I need an LLC to Start a Business Legally?If you are starting a brand new business, you might have wondered, do I need…