California LLC Name Reservation

This guide will show you how to search for and lock down the perfect business name for your California LLC. Read on to learn more or form an LLC with ZenBusiness today for $0 + state fee: $70

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Your company name is important. It’s your first impression, and it’s how people will remember you. You don’t want to be the business with a forgettable name. So, when you’ve got that perfect name in mind, that clever alliteration or meaningful acronym, you might think about reserving it before someone else does.

Naming your company is one of the first official steps when starting an LLC in California. In certain situations, it may be necessary to reserve a business name while you’re preparing to bring your business idea to life. In this article, we’ll explain when reserving a business name is necessary and guide you through all the steps involved.

Are You Required to Reserve a Business Name?

The state of California gives you the option to reserve your LLC name but does not require it. If your name is distinguishable from other California business entities and follows other naming regulations, you can register it when you file your Articles of Organization.

Should You Reserve Your LLC Name?

Maybe it took you sleepless nights of brainstorming, or maybe you thought of it while sitting at a traffic light. No matter how you came up with your memorable LLC name, you’ll want to make sure that it’s available and ready to use when you file your California LLC registration.

You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $10 fee. Overall, it’s cheaper to skip this fee and simply start your business, which will lock in your name automatically.

However, there are cases where you may not be ready to officially start your business. Filing an application to reserve your business name gives you “dibs” and ensures that competitors aren’t able to snag it while you’re preparing for launch.

If your business name is unique, including unusual spellings or characters and/or family names, it may not be necessary to reserve a California business name ahead of time. Plus, paying the extra state fee to reserve your business name could be a waste of resources if you’re planning to launch your business soon after.

How Do I Reserve a Business Name in California?

Got a name in mind? Perfect. Follow these steps to reserve it.

Before submitting your application to reserve your business name, you first need to check name availability by performing a California LLC name search. The Secretary of State website offers a “Business Search” function, making it easy to determine .

Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the state of California (find them all here). All good? Then check to see if your LLC name is available. If it is, let out a sigh of relief — you’re ready to reserve it or form your California LLC.

Like the name availability request, reservation requests can be easily filed online. All you need to do is complete the Name Reservation Request form through the state’s online business services portal.

Like most government forms, the Name Reservation Request comes with a fee. Fortunately, it’s only $10.

One more helpful tidbit: keep in mind that a name reservation doesn’t guarantee that your LLC name’s compliance with California’s naming regulations. So, to avoid running into trouble when you launch your business, review those naming guidelines!

California Secretary of State Contact Information

1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Office Hours:
Monday through Friday – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.,
excluding state holidays.
(916) 653-6814

How Long Does a California Business Name Reservation Last?

Anyone planning to do business within the state of California can reserve an entity name. Filing your name reservation prevents another entity from using that name to conduct business in the state during the time of your hold. But you’ll need to be strategic about when to place your reservation.

An entity name reservation in the state of California only lasts 60 days from the date of filing. After that, you’re allowed to renew it in the future, but not consecutively. So, in order to ensure that your reservation doesn’t go to waste, it’s best to form your LLC within that 60-day window.

This reservation may hold your business name, but remember that it does not officially register it or launch your business by filing your Articles of Organization. Lucky for you, we have a guide for that too. Check it out here.

Wrapping up and Choosing the Best Route

Your LLC name is an important part of the business. If you’re not ready to launch your business, but you’ve got a perfect name and you think someone else might claim it, consider reserving it.

However, if your business is ready for takeoff, use our comprehensive guide to forming an LLC in California to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $10 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $70 California LLC formation fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $10 isn’t a fortune by any means, but this will at least save you the hassle of reserving a name and registering an LLC separately.

Save Time by Using a Professional LLC Service

As a business owner, you have a lot to think about. Pile on the responsibility of handling state correspondence, LLC tax information, and more while keeping your LLC compliant, and you’ve got yourself a pretty full plate.

Sometimes the best move is to let someone else take care of the paperwork for you. This way, you can sleep easy knowing you’ll never miss a deadline or compliance requirement with the state. While LegalZoom is by far the most well-known LLC formation service and has decent overall value, ZenBusiness is an entrepreneur favorite. Other than that, IncFile and Northwest are two other popular options with appeals of their own.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • California doesn’t have too many restrictions regarding the terms you can use in your business name, but it does have a few. For instance, you can’t use terms that refer to other business entity types, and you need to avoid terms that imply an association with banking, insurance, or government entities as well.

  • No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In California and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.

  • The state of California is home to more than 4 million small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that California is a great place to own and operate a small business.

  • The California Secretary of State has an excellent Business Resources page where you can find information about federal, state, and county agencies and programs for small businesses. The California chapter of the Small Business Development Center is also a great place to start, as are the California district offices of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Sacramento and Los Angeles.

  • The overall costs of operating a California LLC can vary considerably based on the specifics of your business. However, we created a helpful guide to help you identify and plan for every expense your LLC will face in this state.

  • The answer to this question lies in your personal preferences, but we can give some general pointers. An attorney will cost the most by a mile, but also provides expertise you won’t find with the other options. The DIY route is free of charge but can require quite a bit of legwork and provides no peace of mind that the process is being completed correctly.

    Using an LLC service means your business will be formed by professionals who know what they’re doing, while also costing significantly less than a lawyer. This “best of both worlds” attribute is what makes LLC services our preferred option.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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