Name Registration Definition

Name registration is the process of officially reserving a unique business name with a government authority to ensure that no other entity can use the same name within the jurisdiction, often a required step for starting a company.

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Choosing a memorable business name is an important first step when starting a company. Protect your name choice by registering it with the state. You can also register a fictitious name or get a trademark for your business name.

Name Registration Definition

The business definition of a name registration is the name you use when registering your business with the state. In most states, you’re required to file one of the following with the Secretary of State or other government entity to form a business:

  • Articles of Incorporation to form a corporation
  • Articles of Organization to start a limited liability company (LLC)
  • Certificate of Limited Partnership to form a limited partnership 

When you file your form, your business name is automatically registered if it’s available. But be sure to check the state’s website because each state has different business entity options and requires different forms. 

Also, note that you typically have to include the type of business as part of the name. So if you want to call your company “Fernandez Accounting” and you plan to form an LLC, you will need to register the company as “Fernandez Accounting LLC.” 

In most states, you can search a database of registered names before filing any paperwork to make sure your business name is available. For a small fee, you then can reserve the name in advance of filing your formation documents. 

What Are Other Name Registration Options?

“Doing Business As” (DBA) or Trade Name

Some companies decide they want to use another name. For example, let’s say Antonio’s Bakery Inc. is a successful bakery business. If the business owner decides to branch out into catering, Antonio’s Bakery Inc. might want to give its catering business a different name. 

Antonio would then register the company’s fictitious name, Keesha’s Catering, as a “doing business as,” “DBA,” or “trade name.” In some states, Antonio would register this name with the state, but in other states, it’s done at the county level. 

If your small business is a sole proprietorship, you don’t have to register your business with the Secretary of State. So having a DBA name registration benefits your business by allowing you to use a name other than your own name for the business. It also prevents others in your area from using the same name.     

Foreign Name Registration

If an out-of-state company that is not registered to do business in a certain state decides that it might want to in the future, it can register its name in that state. This reserves the right to use the name in the future.  


To further prevent anyone from using your business’s name in the same commercial field, you can obtain a trademark. Though trademarks are available at the state level, it’s best to register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A federally registered trademark identifies your goods or services nationwide, provides legal protection for your brand, and helps your business guard against counterfeiting and fraud. 

Domain Name Registration

You may also want a domain name with the same name or DBA name as your business. A domain name is needed for a web hosting company to host a website such as 

When you are ready to establish your company’s online presence, we make registering your domain name easy. And doing it before forming your company offers advantages—name registration that matches your website makes it easier for customers to find your company and builds brand recognition. 


Registering the name of your legal entity makes it official in the state where you do business and prevents others from using the same name. 

We Can Help

If you aren’t quite ready to legally form your business, we can help you reserve your business name for later use. Then when you are ready to get started, we’ll take you through all the steps to register your business name and form your business.

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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