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Before deciding on a name for an LLC in California, you will first want to do a search to be sure it is available. Doing a search is simple, takes just a few minutes and can be done at no cost with the steps below.
You can search for a name with either an online search or mailing a form.
California’s Business Name Search Online
Step 1 – To check if the LLC name you want is available, visit the California Secretary of State website. This site contains records with all the registered business entities (corporation, Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership) in the state.
Step 2 – Enter the name you want in the business entity search field. Each registered business entity has to have a unique name. There are three ways to do a search.
- “Keyword Search” is the most broad search and is usually best to start a search with. Enter the keyword(s) of the desired name and also do a search with both the singular and plural version.
- “Exact” is a search that only uses the words that are entered. Only using this search may give you a false positive as certain words and characters are not considered unique and it may look like the name you searched for is available.
- “Begins With” is a search where you may enter the beginning of a business name to see all of the businesses with that name. This is a better search if you are wanting to find a business but may not know the entire name.
The rule for naming your LLC is that your name must not be identical or “confusingly similar” to the name of another corporation, LLC, or limited partnership in California.
California’s Name Availability Form
If doing a search with the business entity database isn’t your thing, you can download a Name Reservation Request form from the Secretary of State. You’ll need a free copy of Adobe Acrobat reader to fill out the form.
Simply put your name, address, and phone number and enter up to three possible names for your LLC. There is a filing fee of $10 to do the mail in form.
After you’re done, mail the form to the address at the top, and you’re on your way.