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 District of Columbia (DC). 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.
In some states, reserving a business name is a necessary first step to forming an LLC. Not so in D.C. If you’re ready to get your business off the ground, you can skip ahead to filing your Articles of Organization, which will automatically register your 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 D.C. LLC registration.
You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $50 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 D.C. business name ahead of time. Plus, paying the extra District 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. 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 D.C. business name search. You can accomplish this through the D.C. Business Center Info Database by searching for your desired name. Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from D.C. (find them all here and 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.
Okay, your name is available and compliant. To reserve it without leaving your desk, use the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) CorpOnline web portal. Create an account, then select and complete the appropriate form.
To file by postal mail, download and complete a GN-3 form. Make sure to fill it out electronically, as the DCRA doesn’t accept handwritten documents. Then, mail it to:
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
P.O. Box 92300
Washington, DC 20090
Reserving or transferring an LLC name will cost you a $50 fee. When filing online, you’ll need to pay by credit/debit card, so have one nearby. By mail, include a check made out to the “D.C. Treasurer.”
Anyone planning to do business in D.C. can reserve an entity name. Filing your name reservation prevents another entity from using that name to conduct business in the District during the time of your hold. An entity name reservation in D.C. lasts 120 days, but cannot be renewed after that, so once you place your reservation, you’ll want to form your LLC within that 120-day window so you don’t risk losing your name.
You can also transfer your name reservation to someone else if you’d like. This doesn’t renew or extend your hold, but it’s a nice option to have. Name reservation and name transfer both use the GN-3 form.
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 D.C. to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $50 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $220 D.C. LLC formation fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $50 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
You cannot use the words bank, banking, credit union, insurance, or “words of similar import” without the prior approval of the mayor.
No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Washington, D.C., and the other 49 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.
Washington, D.C., is home to nearly 40,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that the District of Columbia is a great place to own and operate a small business.
The District of Columbia chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start. You will also find many excellent resources with the Small Business Administration’s Washington Metropolitan Area District Office. The district government also has its own Small Business Resource Center with plenty of valuable tools.
The overall costs of operating a D.C. 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 jurisdiction.
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.
District of Columbia DC 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.
Let's Get Started