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 Washington. In certain situations, it may be beneficial 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 can be helpful and guide you through all the steps involved.
The state of Washington does not require name reservation prior to LLC formation. If you’re prepared to launch your business, you can skip this step and 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 Washington LLC registration.
You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $30 fee. Overall, it’s cheaper to skip this fee and simply start your business, which will lock in your name.
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 Washington 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.
Anyone planning to do business within the state of Washington can reserve an entity name. Filing your name registration 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 Washington gives you sole ownership of that name for 180 days.
If you haven’t formed your LLC by the time this window closes, your name will once again be available for public use. For this reason, you need to be strategic about when you request your reservation. If you reserve your name too long before your business is ready, you might risk losing it to someone else.
Want to pass your name along to someone else? You can transfer an active reservation to someone else by filing a signed notice – including the name and address of the transferee – with the Secretary of State.
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. Use the Secretary of State’s Business Search to see if anyone is currently using your name. Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the state of Washington (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.
To lock down your name, you’ll need to submit a “Name Reservation” form to the Secretary of State’s office. The form itself is fairly simple and contains a set of instructions on page 2. The only information it requires is:
When you’re finished, write a check or money order for $30 to the “Secretary of State.” Then, mail your form and payment to:
Secretary of State
801 Capitol Way S
PO Box 40234
Olympia WA 98504-0234
Or, if you live in Olympia, you can hand deliver your form to the same address.
Want that name on hold right away? You can skip the standard processing time by selecting the “Expedited Service” option on your form and paying an additional $50 fee. If you go this route, write “EXPEDITE” on the outside of your envelope.
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 Washington to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $30 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $180 Washington Certificate of Formation fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $30 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
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.
Washington 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