Business Name Search & Registration
by BobK, Community Administrator
- Created: June 23, 2009, 5:24 pm
- Updated: June 14, 2011, 12:26 pm
Before registering a new business, you will need to check if someone else has already registered your business name. Business name registration requirements vary by state and may depend on whether or not you incorporate your business.
Business name registration is commonly known as making a 'Doing Business As' (DBA) filing. DBA filings are also known as assumed name or fictitious name registrations. A business registers a DBA name when the name of the business is something other than the business owner’s legal name, or the name of a partnership, LLC, etc.
DBA filing requirements vary by state. So, where you go to check if a business name has been registered depends on state registration requirements. The Federal government does not maintain DBA filings or a nation-wide registry of registered business names.
For example, in California, all businesses must file a Fictitious Name Certificate with the county in which a business will operate. You must contact a county clerk’s office to obtain information on registered business names. Some counties, such as Yolo County, allow you to search an online database of registered names.
In other states, such as Minnesota, DBA filings are made with a state agency (e.g., a Secretary of State office). In these cases, the state agency provides a website that allows you to search for the availability of business names.
To find out where to search for DBA filings in your state, see the Business Name Registration page.
Incorporated business are required to register with a state agency (e.g., a Secretary of State office). Most states offer a business name search engine for the general public to search for corporate records. The Business Incorporation Guide provides links to state corporation agencies.
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