Nailing down a great name for your North Carolina LLC can be challenging.
You want the name to be unique and easy to remember while being legally acceptable and conveying what your business does. You also want it to be SEO-friendly so that it can easily be found on Google. That’s a lot of boxes to check.
And even if you’ve already found the perfect business name, you need to make sure it’s available. That takes several steps, as detailed in this handy guide.
North Carolina LLC Entity Search
The most important consideration when choosing an LLC name in North Carolina is to make sure it’s available and legally acceptable. Here’s how to confirm you can use your preferred business name.
1. Check for availability in North Carolina
Go to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website and enter your business name.
You should also search for similar business names, as you don’t want a name that can easily be confused with other businesses in North Carolina.
2. Check North Carolina’s LLC name regulations
In North Carolina, your LLC name must include “limited liability company” or an abbreviation (LLC or L.L.C.) and cannot have words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency.
Additionally, your business name must be distinguishable from all other business names in the state. There are statutory and administrative code prohibitions to using specific words in a name.
3. Check Trademarks
Check with the US Patent and Trademark Office to ensure the name has not been trademarked and thus is available nationally.
4. Check domain name availability
You’ll want to make sure the domain name is available. You can check at a site like GoDaddy.com and use .com or .org extensions, as those give your business more credibility.
5. Google it
Do a Google search to ensure the name is not being used in the U.S. or internationally. This is particularly important if you plan to have a strong online presence for your business.
Once you’ve confirmed these, it’s a good idea to reserve the name with the state.
How to file a North Carolina LLC Name Reservation
To reserve an LLC name in North Carolina, start by visiting the Secretary of State’s business services website, register for an account, then head to the name reservation form to complete the online application.
Enter all of the required information, enter your electronic signature, and click the submit button to go to payment. Alternatively, you can complete and mail a paper form.
The cost to file a name reservation in North Carolina is $10. Once your application is processed, your LLC name will be reserved for 120 days.
Additionally, you can reserve your name by submitting the Application to Reserve Business Entity Name for ten years. This form of restriction, however, only applies to people who have obtained the “goodwill” of an organization that is permitted to conduct business in North Carolina.
Doing Business As (DBA)
Even after all this work, at some point, you may want to do business under a name other than your LLC name. First, you’ll need to register a “doing business as” or DBA name. There are two main reasons you might want to use a DBA.
- Suppose you want to add new product lines. For example, if your business name is “JJ’s Waffles,” you want to expand and offer “JJ’s Muffins.” You can have multiple DBAs under the umbrella of your single LLC.
- When you have a DBA, you can have a business bank account under that name. So if you add “JJ’s Muffins,” customers can pay “JJ’s Muffins,” and you can deposit those payments into the bank account with that name.
Assumed names are registered in North Carolina counties where you do business with the register of deeds office. You can find your county’s register of deeds office here. The fee is $26 but may vary by county.
Choosing a business name is crucial to entrepreneurial success, so if you’ve found a good one, don’t let somebody else get it. Instead, just take the steps detailed above to ensure it’s available and legally acceptable before pulling the trigger.
You don’t want to run into an issue later that could impact the success of your business.