Nailing down a great name for your Virginia LLC can be a challenge.
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.
Virginia LLC Entity Search
The most important consideration when choosing an LLC name in Virginia 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 Virginia
Go to the Virginia Corporation Commission website and enter your business name. You should also search for similar business names, as you don’t want a name that can be easily confused with other businesses in Virginia.
2. Check Virginia’s LLC name regulations
In Virginia, your LLC name must include “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.). It cannot have words that could confuse your LLC with any government agency.
In addition, your business name cannot include words that refer to specific types of business – such as a bank, insurance, or university – without state approval.
3. Check Trademarks
Check with the US Patent and Trademark Office to ensure the name has not been trademarked and is thus 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, 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 Virginia LLC Name Reservation
To reserve an LLC name in Virginia, visit the Clerk’s Information System (CIS) website. First, you’ll need to register if you don’t already have an online account.
Once your account has been created, log in and click Online Services from the top menu bar. Then, select Name Reservations/Registrations/Fictitious Name link under the Business Entities heading.
Next, select Reserved Name from the Name Type drop-down menu and Application for Reservation of Name from the Filing Type drop-down menu. Click Continue.
You’ll then move through a series of screens to input all the required information.
At the end of the process, you’ll have the opportunity to review your entries and make changes before confirmation and payment.
Alternatively, you can complete and mail a paper form.
The cost to file a name reservation in Virginia is $10. Once your application is processed, your LLC name will be reserved for 120 days.
Doing Business As (DBA)
Even after all this work, you may want to do business under a name other than your LLC. 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 one 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.
In Virginia, a DBA is known as a fictitious name. To register a fictitious name in Virginia, go to the Clerk’s Information System (CIS) website to file online. You’ll use the same account you used to file your name reservation.
Once you log in, click on the same Name Reservations link you used to reserve your business name, only this time, select Fictitious Name from the drop-down menu and follow the instructions. The cost to file a fictitious name in Virginia is $10.
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 nailing it down.
You don’t want to run into an issue later that could impact the success of your business.