Nailing down a great name for your Washington LLC can be a challenge.
You want the name to be unique and easy to remember while 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 to use. That takes several steps, as detailed in this handy guide.
Washington LLC Entity Search
The most important consideration when choosing an LLC name in Washington 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 Washington
Go to the 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 be easily confused with other businesses in Washington.
2. Check Washington’s LLC name regulations
In Washington, your LLC name must include “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
In addition, your LLC name cannot have words that could confuse your Washington LLC with any government agency. Your business name also cannot have words like bank, insurance, university (or any similar names) without approval from certain state authorities.
The name of your Washington LLC cannot imply that you are a corporation or partnership, and your name must be distinguishable from all other business names in the state.
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 Washington LLC Name Reservation
To reserve an LLC name in Washington, start by visiting the Secretary of State website, then head to the Forms page to download the Name Reservation form.
Once the form is downloaded, fill in the required information and mail a copy to the Secretary of State’s office along with the $30 fee. You can expedite your filing for an additional $50.
In Washington, there is no option to file a name reservation online; you must submit a paper form. Once your application is processed, your LLC name will be reserved for 180 days.
Doing Business As (DBA)
You may want to do business under a name other than your LLC name. 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 Washington, a DBA is known as a trade name. To register a trade name in Washington, go to the Department of Revenue website. You will need to register if you don’t already have a MyDOR account.
Once your account is created, log in and complete the Business License Application.
Choosing a business name is a crucial step 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.