How to Register a Business Name – Complete Guide

Well, the most critical decision you can make in your professional life is choosing the name of your business. This is because your business name reflects your business idea, objective, and identity. It provides your customers an idea about what you offer exactly to them.

Once you have selected your company name, you must follow the name reservation and business registration with a state agency.

This will help you ensure no other business can run their corporation under the same name. Let’s explore step by step process of registering a business name; keep reading. 

How Do You Register a Name for a Business: Step by Step Guide 

The registration process for a business name varies from state to state and from one business structure to another. But, the general procedure is as follows: 

Step 1: Perform the Search for the Name 

This step tells you whether the business name you have chosen is available or not. This is because there might be a chance that some business already chooses your name. Therefore, you need to perform the name search by the following techniques:

  • Online Means

Start by performing a search for your selected company name. Enter the name into Google, Yahoo, Bing, or another search engine and press Enter to see if the desired name already belongs to a company.

When conducting the search, try enclosing your company name in quotation marks for more accurate results. When you do this, search engine results will precisely match the company name.

  • Searching the State Registry  

Visit your Secretary of State’s official website and explore business names in its registry. This will help you with a quick check of all the registered websites.

Step 2: Reserve & Register the Business Name in Your State

Once you have made sure that your business name is not taken by any other company yet, you can proceed to reserve and register your business name.

Again, this process varies from state to state and business structure. But, the general steps are the same. Let’s explore.

Your state may require you to formally register your business name if your company is a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), general and limited partnership, or nonprofit.

The official registration of a partnership business name is optional in several states.

Finally, as long as you use your legal name as your DBA, no state requires you to register the name of a sole proprietorship.

Pro Tip:

Before reserving and registering a business name with a registered agent or county clerk in your area, be sure to review your state’s naming regulations.

  • Business Name Reservation 

You can reserve the business name if the intention is to hold on to the business name and not incorporate the business immediately. For doing so, always check the reservation period of your state.

  • Business Name Registration 

You can register the business name while incorporating the business. This process includes the submission of organization articles in the case of LLC and articles of incorporation in the case of a corporation.  

Step 3: Trademarking the Business Name 

A state or federal trademark protects your brand against any competitive usage. So, it is important to trademark your business name after registration.

Once again, you can federally or stately trademark a business name. The procedure involves submitting a trademark application to the USPTO.

But, this can only be done once your business name is registered. Thus, trademarking comes last before you’re deemed to be legally conducting business in a state.

Your trade name will be formally processed and kept in the national or state trademark database once you have registered your firm and filed with the USPTO.

How to Change a Business Name?

You can need to file a certificate of correction to remove clerical mistakes and typos in the name of your company. Apart from that, you must carry out the following actions if you want to significantly alter the legal business name:

  1. Get the resolution approving the name change. If approval of LLC members, and shareholders is required, the resolution will be signed by a number of partners or shareholders
  2. Modify the business formation documents. This may include updating the LLC operating agreement, any other agreement with the stakeholders along with articles of organization or articles of incorporation
  3. Articles of amendment must be submitted along with the necessary filing fee to the Secretary of state or other relevant state agency
  4. Notify state licensing, taxation, and regulatory organizations of the name change
  5. Change business accounts’ names, and inform customers, suppliers, and partners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I register a business name for free?

Unfortunately, not a single state allows business name registration for free for sellers. However, despite variable costs in each state, registering a business name is typically inexpensive.

How much does it cost to register a business?

Regardless of the state or business structure, the cost to register a business name normally doesn’t exceed $300.

State filing fees for business registration vary. More specifically, registering a business name for a corporation or LLC will cost you between $50 and $300.

You only need to pay a filing fee if you wish to operate as a sole proprietor under a DBA. Typically, it ranges from $10 to $100. Your business name and brand will cost an additional $225 to $275 to trademark.

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