When You Want More

Nearly every company that claims to offer help conducting a business name search either demands your information first, or worse yet charges you a fee. These companies are doing a very simple task you could easily do yourself. Don’t give away your information or hard-earned cash for a business name check you can almost always do yourself in minutes for free. Instead, find your state name below, and learn how you can easily check name availability in your state. Also, find other useful business links to websites, including your state’s Secretary of State office, Department of Revenue and Department of Licensing.

Search Tools for All 50 States

To search name availability, simply click on your state’s tool below. Please note that most of these tools are provided by the Secretary of State, but a few are not. If there is any unique information you need to know about a state’s tool, we’ll fill you in.

How to Use the Search Tool

Finding the search tool is one thing, but using it effectively is another. Here are a few tips to make the most of the tool.

Once you’re on the search page, you should type in the exact name you’d like to use, but don’t include any entity type identifiers like “Co.” or “LLC.” Then, check the list of results for any exact matches. If there is an exact match, you’ll know that you need to change your name. You can also check for deceptively similar names, too.

To make the most of the search, you can also perform an optional keyword search. With some of the tools, you can perform an advanced search. So, you can use the “contains” filter (or a similar filter) to search a keyword within your business name. This way, the tool will pull up all results that contain that keyword.

This second search can be useful because it helps you know what names are being used by similar businesses. You can use that knowledge to make your name truly unique from those of your competitors.

Tips for Creating a Great Business Name

If you’re having trouble coming up with a good name for your business, we have a few pointers to offer. The first step is to make sure you’re following all applicable rules for your business name.

You might want to run a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark database, as this ensures that your name is not trademarked in full or in part by another business entity operating somewhere in America.

The other major legal issue to keep in mind is that every corporation needs to have one of the following words or abbreviations in its official name: corporation, incorporated, limited, company, Inc., or Corp.

Beyond the legalities, we always like to remind our readers that your business name is your first impression with all potential clients, and therefore it should briefly describe what your company’s purpose is. For example, if you’re an electrician, you should probably have the word “Electric” or some similar variant as part of your name.

We also think business names work far better when they’re concise, as a name that’s too long becomes cumbersome for your customers. Also, you might want to consider how your name could be adapted to a domain name. In this digital age, even local businesses get many of their clients from Google searches, so it’s important to have a name that adapts well to use in a URL.

Overall, it’s also crucial that you personally enjoy your business name. After all, you’ll be seeing it and saying it frequently from now on, so it should be something that you like!


Guru Tip: If you’re still looking for a good business name, check out this name generator to find one that’s catchy and available for use. 

There’s nothing too terribly tricky or confusing about searching your state’s business name database, but it’s an incredibly important step that you absolutely cannot overlook.

If you try to incorporate a business using a name that’s already in use in your state, you will not be allowed to form your business until you come up with another option that is available for your use.

All told, it’s important to not get too focused on one business name. We always recommend that our readers come up with a list of potential business names, so if your first choice isn’t available, you have other ideas to fall back on instead of going back to the drawing board.