Nailing down a great name for your Wisconsin 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 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.
Wisconsin LLC Entity Search
The most important consideration when choosing an LLC name in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin
Go to the Department of Financial Institution’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 Wisconsin.
2. Check Wisconsin’s LLC name regulations
In Wisconsin, your LLC name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.). In addition, it cannot have any words or phrases that could confuse your LLC with a government agency.
Your business name cannot include words like bank, insurance, or university without state approval and 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 Wisconsin LLC Name Reservation
To reserve an LLC name in Wisconsin, start by visiting the Department of Financial Institutions website, then head to the Name Availability page to download the name reservation application.
Once the form is downloaded, fill in all the required information and mail it to the Department of Financial Institutions along with the filing fee.
In Wisconsin, there is no option to file online; you must submit a paper form. The fee is $15, and you can expedite your filing for an additional $25. Once your application is processed, your LLC name will be reserved for 120 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 Wisconsin, a DBA is known as a trade name. To register a trade name in Wisconsin, go to the Department of Financial Institution’s website and head to the Trademarks page. You will need to create an online account to complete the application.
The fee is $15. Once your trade name is approved, it’s valid for ten years.
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.