LLC name search Texas

How to Conduct a Texas Business Search

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Once you’ve decided to start a Texas limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, one of the first decisions you’ll make is choosing the right name for your business. You probably have plenty of potential names running through your head already, but before settling on one, you’ll need to make sure it isn’t already taken. This is where you’ll have to do a search. 

If you aren’t sure how to get started on choosing a name or how to conduct a Texas business search, then use our helpful guide. Below, we’ll explain how to perform a Texas company search through the Secretary of State (SOS) and the Texas Comptroller

Please note, this article only covers Texas business entity search information for LLCs and corporations, and not for limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships, or other business types.

Having a great business name is important 

Your business’s name will be part of its identity. It doesn’t matter if it’s an LLC or a corporation, a great name is what the public will know it by. Making sure that it’s catchy and memorable are equally important. Check out our article on coming up with a great business name

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Always conduct a Texas SOS business search first

Before settling on a name for your business, you’ll need to make sure it’s available. The last thing you want is to have your formation documents (Articles of Organization for an LLC and Articles of Incorporation for a corporation) rejected because the name you chose for your business was already taken.

In this article, we’ll be going over how to conduct a Texas business search with the help of the Secretary of State. We’ll also highlight how to use the Texas Comptroller’s website to search business entities and go over some additional info that you might find useful during your business setup.

Learn where to conduct a Texas business search

Conduct a Texas entity search before settling on the name you want. You can always conduct a Texas business search the old-fashioned way by Googling the business name you want and seeing if anything comes up. The problem is that this method is very unreliable. Texas offers a couple of easier ways to do this. Let’s go over them below.

Perform a Texas entity search with the SOS and Comptroller

To conduct a Texas business entity search online, you have two options. You can first try the Texas Secretary of State’s SOSDirect portal. You can do plenty of things here, including searching for business entities and checking name availability. You’ll have to create an account with a username and password. There’s also a $1 statutorily authorized fee per search.

Another option is using the Texas Comptroller’s company search tool that allows you to look up taxable entities in Texas. You won’t need an account to use this tool and it’s free.

Before choosing a name for your Texas LLC, search to see if it’s available to use. You’ll need to learn the business naming rules of Texas as well. These rules can be quite strict, so it’s incredibly important to look over them before creating a list of potential business names for your LLC. A complete list of naming rules is in Title I – Part 4 – Chapter 79 – Subchapter C (Entity Names) of the Texas Administrative Code.

LLC Naming Rules

The state’s business naming rules are extensive, so be sure to look them over before conducting a Texas LLC lookup. In general, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • The LLC’s name must be distinguishable from other business names. Differences in capitalization and punctuation won’t count. Names that sound identical but have different spelling (e.g., “Lisa’s Flower Shop” and “Lisa’s Flower Shoppe”) also don’t count unless there’s a difference in meaning. For example, “Capital Investments” and “Capitol Investments” are considered distinguishable. Section 79.38 of the Texas Administrative Code has a full explanation. 
  • The name cannot imply an affiliation with a government agency.
  • The name cannot imply it will engage in illegal acts.
  • Unless you meet specific requirements, the name cannot contain certain prohibited words like “university,” “bank,” “trust,” and others. Section 79.34 of the Texas Administrative Code goes into more detail about this.
  • The name cannot be grossly offensive.
  • The name must have a designator such as “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or an abbreviation of these. These abbreviations can include:
    • L.L.C.
    • LLC
    • L.C.
    • LC
    • Ltd. Co.
    • Ltd. Company
    • Ltd. Liability Co. 
    • Ltd. Liability Company
  • The state doesn’t allow the use of the words “company” or “limited” by themselves for LLCs. 
  • The designator must not be misleading. For example, an LLC cannot have “Inc.” as its designator.

Performing a Texas LLC Lookup

Check with the SOSDirect portal or the Texas Comptroller’s search tool to see if any other business is using the name you want. If there is, then you’ll have to go back to the drawing board. We suggest compiling a list of potential names so you can search for them in one sitting.

Conducting a Texas Corporation Search

As you did with an LLC, you should conduct a Texas corporation search. Before doing this, you’ll need to learn the state’s rules for corporation names. This will ensure that your formation documents are good to go. Let’s go over the state’s corporation naming rules and how to conduct a search.

Corporation Naming Rules

For the most part, the naming rules for LLCs also apply to corporations, with some minor differences:

  • The corporation’s name must be distinguishable from other business names. See the section for LLCs above for details. 
  • The name cannot imply an affiliation with a government agency.
  • Unless you meet specific requirements, the name cannot contain certain prohibited words like “university,” “bank,” “trust,” and others. Section 79.34 of the Texas Administrative Code goes into more detail about this.
  • The name cannot be grossly offensive.
  • The name must have a designator such as “company,” “corporation,” “incorporated,” “limited,” or an abbreviation of these. These abbreviations can include:
    • Corp. 
    • Inc. 
    • Co. 
    • Ltd. 
  • The designator must not be misleading. For example, a corporation cannot have “LLC” as its designator.

Performing a Texas Corporation Lookup

Use the SOSDirect portal or Texas Comptroller’s taxable entity search tool to see if the name you want is available. We should point out that there’s nothing wrong with being extra sure, which brings us to our next point.

Contact the Secretary of State’s office for additional help

If you use these tools and nothing comes up, then there’s a good chance that the name you want is available. However, it’s always best to double-check if your potential name is free to use. You can call or email the Texas Secretary of State’s office for help. If you get the green light from them, then the name you want is ready for you to snag. 

Check if your business name has a trademark

After completing a Texas company search and choosing a name, you should check if it’s trademarked. If it is, you may end up dealing with a few headaches in the form of trademark infringement notices. The state doesn’t check for trademarks prior to approving a name. 

The good news is that there are methods for checking this yourself. You can perform a nationwide search by visiting the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website. You can also apply for a trademark there.

To check at the state level, you can do so with the Secretary of State. To contact them you can call or email, or search through the SOSDirect portal for a fee. You can also file for a trademark in Texas with Form 901— Trademark Application.

Reserving a Texas Business Name

After you’ve gone through the process of coming up with a name, checking if it’s available, and making sure it isn’t trademarked, you should now consider reserving it. The best reason to do this is to ensure that no one else nabs that name while you’re getting your business set up.

Texas allows business name reservations for 120 days. You can do this by filling out Form 501 — General Information (Application for Reservation or Renewal of Reservation of an Entity Name). If you’d rather go another route, we offer a business name reservation service. We’ll perform a search for you and reserve it if it’s available.

We can help!

You’ve now taken the first, and some may argue the most important, step in your business formation process: choosing a name. Although there’s still plenty of work to do to make your business official, you can scratch this first step off your to-do list.

A few things to look forward to from here on are choosing a registered agent, filing your formation documents, applying for company licenses and permits, and more. The great news is that we have detailed how-to guides to help you in Texas: one for LLCs and another for corporations.

Check out our other services that can help you set up, run, and grow your business. You’ll get long-term business support so you can become the successful business owner you’ve always wanted to be. Reach out to us today to learn what else we can do for you!

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational 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.

Texas Business Name Search FAQs

  1. How do I register my Texas business name?

    Your Texas business name is automatically registered with the state when your business formation documents are approved. Remember that your name must follow the state’s rules, which we covered for LLCs and corporations above.

  2. How do I change my Texas LLC or corporation name?

    You can change your Texas business name by filing a Certificate of Amendment with the Secretary of State for a fee. We can help you do this.

    If you’d prefer to keep your business’s legal name but operate under a different one, you can file for an “assumed name,” more commonly known as a “doing business as” (DBA) name.

    You can submit an Assumed Name Certificate (Form 503) through the Secretary of State’s SOSDirect portal, or we can do it for you.

  3. Should I get a domain name for my Texas business?

    That’s entirely up to you. If you plan on running a strictly online business, then you’ll need a domain name for a business website.

    If you’re going to run a business with a physical location, then a domain name may not be in your cards. But consider that, in the digital age, most people look up a business’s information online, such as their address or phone number. And most people occasionally shop online.

    You could have an additional source of business income by having an eCommerce website. Marketing your business online is another great benefit of having a website. You can do so through social media, for example.

    Get a domain name that’s either identical or as close to your business name as possible. Settle on a domain name while you’re coming up with a business name so you can check to see if both are available to use before making a decision.

    We can help you register a domain name, add privacy to it, and build your business website.

  4. Can I name my business after myself?

    You can name your business however you’d like as long as it follows the naming rules of the state. That includes naming it after yourself. Remember that a business name should be memorable and marketable.

    If you form your business but feel its name just isn’t cutting it, you can change it by filing a Certificate of Amendment. You can also get an Assumed Name Certificate to operate under a different business name without having to change your legal one.

  5. Should I get an assumed name for my business?

    If your business’s legal name isn’t working for you but you don’t want to go through the process of changing it with the state, then you should consider getting an assumed name. An assumed name can also come in handy if you plan to open a new store or offer a new product.

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