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Before you even think of doing business with your LLC, you need to register its name. The tricky part is coming up with a name that you like that also fits your state’s requirements. Once you create the name, registering it is the easy part. We’ll walk you through registering your LLC’s name so that you can get started on the big stuff—growing your business!
Why Registering an LLC Name is Worth It
If you plan to create an LLC, one of the first steps is registering its name. In other words, if you already know you want to start an LLC, it’s worth it because it’s mandatory. Otherwise, you don’t have an LLC at all.
Creating an LLC lets you protect your personal and business assets from lawsuits and other potential legal troubles. With the limited liability you get with an LLC, a lawsuit can’t drain your personal assets the way it might if you had a different type of business.
It also prevents you from double taxation. With double taxation, the state taxes you both through your business and on your personal tax returns. With an LLC, you only get taxed once through your personal tax returns.
Registering your LLC name is the first step in creating your LLC and giving yourself the building blocks you need to grow your business. Once you register your LLC name, you can take the next steps to implementing your business plans.
The Investment Needed to Register an LLC Name
Depending on your state, reserving your LLC name can cost anywhere from $10 to $50. And that’s before you’ve officially registered it. The reservation fee only keeps someone else from taking your chosen name for a specified period of time.
If you plan to register a fictitious business name, you’ll need an additional $10 to $200. Most states make you pay between $50 and $100 for this part. Some states don’t allow fictitious business names, and not all businesses need them, so you may be able to skip this part.
Before you officially register your LLC, you might need a business license. This depends on where you live and what kind of business you run. If you do need a business license where you live, expect to pay between $50 and $100.
The last step in registering your LLC name is filing your articles of organization. This part technically goes beyond registering your LLC name alone. However, without filing your articles of organization, you don’t have an LLC at all.
To file your articles of organization and register your LLC as a business entity, you won’t typically need more than $100. However, some states have much higher fees, over $200, so check the requirements before you submit yours.
In registering your LLC name, the biggest time investment will likely be coming up with the name before starting the process.
It only takes a few minutes to fill out the paperwork needed for your articles of organization and submit it with the fee. But you need to make sure you have a unique LLC name, and it can take a while before you come up with several potential names and run them through the Secretary of State website’s name search tool.
You’ll also need to wait up to a few weeks to receive confirmation that your LLC name has been registered.
Incfile is one of the best tools you can use when you’re creating your LLC. It guides you through the process from the start. That includes coming up with your LLC name.
It gives you templates and information that you need to create your business name, including the specific guidelines for your state. By tailoring the guidelines to your location, you’re less likely to miss any steps in registering your LLC name.
The program also sticks with you beyond your LLC setup. It gives you resources for getting through tax season without a hitch and walks you through licensing requirements. It can also act as your registered agent if you don’t have one already in mind.
With software like Incfile, you can make the LLC registration process simple and stress-free.
6 Steps to Register an LLC Name
Registering your LLC name is one of the easiest parts of the LLC registration process. Follow these steps so you know what to expect and make the process more efficient.
#1—Create Your LLC Name
The main rule for creating your LLC name is the same in every state. It must be unique and easily distinguishable from other LLC names in your state.
For example, if there’s already a business called The Flower Shop, you can’t then create The Flower Store. They sound too similar and there’s too much potential for confusion.
Your business name must end in one of the following:
- Limited Liability Corporation
- Limited Company
There are several abbreviations that stand for the same thing. Some are allowed in certain states while others aren’t. Before you add one to your business name, make sure it’s one that’s allowed in your state.
You also need to be careful about specific words used in your business name. In some cases, you can’t use certain words unless you’re in that particular type of business or have a license that qualifies you to do that kind of work.
A few examples of these words include:
- Trust or Trustee
- Insurer or Insurance Company
There may be more depending on your state, so make sure you check the regulations before submitting your business name.
You also can’t use words that imply that your business is anything other than an LLC, like incorporated.
Incfile can help you here. Incfile gives you the tools you need to not only come up with an acceptable name but search to see if the one you choose is available.
If you don’t have a business name yet, Incfile has a tool on its website where you can generate business names. All you have to do is put in keywords for your business, like “flowers” if you run a flower shop, and it’ll come up with names for you.
It also has information about what types of names are allowed and what you can’t use in your LLC name. Along with the resources it provides as business software, the product website also has plenty of information specific to your state about how naming and registration works.
#2—Reserve Your LLC Name
Once you’ve decided on a name for your business, you’ll need to go to the Secretary of State website and reserve it. Reserving your name doesn’t register your LLC. However, it does mean that no one else will take that name while you’re busy putting all the other pieces of your business together.
Each state has a different fee for reserving your LLC name, so you’ll have to check your Secretary of State’s website to find out how much it costs. Most of the time, you’ll pay between $10 and $50.
Often, you can reserve your name and submit your fee entirely online. You do have the option to submit a paper form by mail if you prefer.
Once the Secretary of State receives your application to reserve your LLC name and approves it, you have that name reserved for anywhere from 60 to 180 days, depending on your state.
Most of the time, you’ll have registered your LLC by the end of that time. If you don’t, many states allow you to renew your name reservation.
Incfile can help you with name reservations. It has a free business name search tool where you can look up business names to see if yours is available. Instead of limiting the search to your state, Incfile can look up business names across the United States to help you come up with something completely unique.
It searches both corporation and LLC names using the most updated data available. You can also use the tool to form your business entity right away. This tool is free, but you can get more when you buy Incfile for your LLC.
Incfile has three packages:
To find out what each one costs in your state, you can use the dropdowns on the pricing page. Some packages are as low as $50 while others exceed $500 based on your state and chosen package. No matter where you buy, the software is yours forever for a one-time payment.
Each package gives you more than the last, and even the Silver gives you all you need to set up your LLC and register the name. It helps you prepare and file your articles of organization once you’ve reserved a name, and the higher tiers come with tax services, a bank account, expedited filing, and more.
If you’re looking for help beyond simply setting up your LLC, Incfile can guide you through the process of maintaining your LLC, too. For that, you’ll need the Gold or Platinum package, but it may be worth it to make sure you’re always in compliance with your state’s laws.
#3—Create a DBA Name (If You Want)
A fictitious business name, or “doing business as” (DBA) name, is the one your customers and clients see. You might hear them called different things, like trade names or assumed names, depending on where you live.
A DBA name can be different from your registered LLC name, and it doesn’t have to be unique the way an LLC name does.
If you want to call your business “The Flower Shop” and there are five others by the same name in your state, that’s okay. It’s only the LLC name that has to be completely distinguishable from others in the state.
You might also want to use a DBA if you operate in different states or have multiple different locations under the same LLC. You can then tailor the DBA name based on your location.
When you file your DBA name, you’ll need to submit an application either online or by mail. Along with that application, you’ll have to pay anywhere from $10 to $200, depending on your state’s individual fee.
With Incfile, you can find your state’s regulations. The platform can help you find a fictitious business name that fits your business and begin the registration process.
Some states don’t allow DBA names, so make sure you check before you register your LLC name.
#4—Appoint a Registered Agent
Before you can fully register your LLC name, you need a registered agent. A registered agent receives all official documents for your LLC.
Different states’ rules for who can be a registered agent vary. Some allow you to appoint yourself or another individual to take on that role. Others prefer you use a business to receive your documents.
Your registered agent should be available to accept any official documents during business hours. Most people choose someone outside their business for this role, as it can be inconvenient to accept things like legal documents while dealing with customers.
Incfile offers free registered agent service with all its packages for the first year. It fulfills the requirement of registered agent even in the strictest states. It also saves you the trouble of finding one on your own when you’ve got a business qualified for the job already available.
#5—Get a Business License
Some types of businesses require a specific business license in different states. The rules for this will vary depending on where you’re from, so you should check your state’s regulations before you apply for one.
Some states require a business license for businesses that sell tangible goods or provide services you need a license to offer. If you sell taxed goods, you’ll need to find out how to pay those taxes to the state through your business.
The fee for a business license varies, but you should expect to pay $50 to $100 for one.
#6—File Your Articles of Organization
This part sounds complicated, but it’s only a document with your LLC’s information. The articles of organization are the last step to registering your LLC name and doing business with it.
You can file your articles of organization online or by mail. The fee varies by state, but you’ll typically pay $50 to $100. However, certain states, like Alaska, can charge up to $250 for them.
Your articles of organization must include the following basic information:
- Your LLC’s name
- Your registered agent’s name, contact information, and signature
- The name and signature of the person completing the articles of organization
Some states require more information, like the purpose of your LLC and its period of existence.
Incfile can give you more information on filling out your articles of organization. If you’re in a hurry to file, Incfile’s Gold and Platinum tiers offer expedited or rush filing, so you can skip the few weeks you’d otherwise have to wait.
All packages offer the documents and resources you need to file in different states.
Once you’ve filed your articles of organization, you’ve technically created your LLC and can start doing business. However, before you jump in, you should create an operating agreement with information about how your business runs, information on member resolutions, and what to do if you need to dissolve your LLC in the future. Having information like this on hand will allow you to create an even more successful LLC!