This guide will outline everything you need to know about reserving an LLC name in Delaware and how to get started when you’re ready.
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 Delaware. 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.
You are not required to reserve a business name before forming your LLC. For some states, this is the first step in the business registration process, but in Delaware, you can go straight to filing your Certificate of Formation.
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 Delaware LLC registration.
You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $75 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 Delaware 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.
Got a name in mind? Perfect. If you’re not ready to form your LLC yet, you can 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 Delaware LLC name search. The Department of State Entity Search allows you to enter your desired name and see if it returns any businesses already using it. Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the state of Delaware (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 LLC.
There are a few options for how to reserve your LLC name, but the easiest and fastest way is through the Department of State’s Online Name Reservation Site. All you have to do is select your entity type (LLC) and desired name and you’ll be on your way.
Postal mail is also a reliable, albeit less efficient, option. Complete your Application for Reservation and a Filing Cover Memo; then mail both forms, with your $75 payment, to:
Delaware Division of Corporations
401 Federal Street – Suite 4
Dover, DE 19901
Or fax them to (302) 739-3812
Each entity type (corporation, LLC, LLP, etc.) uses different forms, so make sure you use the ones designated for LLCs if you’re navigating the Name Reservation Application page.
No matter how you choose to file, you’ll need to pay a $75 fee. For online reservations, pay via credit/debit card; for paper applications, pay via check, made out to the “Delaware Secretary of State.”
Anyone planning to do business within the state of Delaware 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. An entity name reservation in the state of Delaware gives you 120 days as the owner of that name.
By the end of this period, if you’re not ready to officially form your LLC, you can renew your name reservation by filing an “Application for Re-Reservation of an LLC Name” and pay an additional $75 fee. Feel free to renew as many times as you need, but with a $75 fee each time, the costs can add up quickly, so be careful not to reserve a name too early.
You also have the option to transfer your name reservation to someone else by filing an “Application for Transfer of LLC Name,” or cancel it with an “Application for Cancellation of Reservation of LLC Name.” Each of these forms charges an additional $75 fee.
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 Delaware to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $75 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $90 Delaware LLC formation fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $75 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.
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.
$0 + state fee and takes 5-10 minutes
There really aren’t very many restrictions regarding which words you can use in your Delaware LLC’s name, especially compared to some states that have exhaustive lists of prohibited words. In Delaware, you just need to avoid words that imply association with the banking industry, words that are lewd, vulgar, or racist, and those that refer to different business entity types (like corporation, partnership, etc.).
No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Delaware and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.
The state of Delaware is home to more than 77,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Delaware is a great place to own and operate a small business.
The Delaware chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for Delaware LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Delaware District Office is another valuable resource, and the state’s small business resource page also has plenty of good info.
The overall costs of operating a Delaware 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.
Delaware is one of the most popular states for LLC formations, thanks to its business-friendly rules and regulations. If you need help navigating the details of this state’s business laws and want a Delaware-specific LLC formation service, take a look at our guide to the six best Delaware LLC services.
Delaware Business Resources
How to Reserve an LLC Name in all 50 States
We break down the LLC Name Reservation process for all 50 states. View all of our guides below.
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