How to Search Available LLC Names in Alabama
1. Check Alabama LLC Naming Guidelines
Before you do a name availability search, it makes sense to check if your business name meets the basic state guidelines.
Some key guidelines for Alabama LLC names include:
- You must reserve your LLC’s name online or by mail before registering it. If filing by mail, you must submit a name reservation form at least two weeks before filing a Certificate of Formation. If filing online, you can reserve your name at the time of formation.
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your name must be distinguishable from any name on the record with the Secretary of State (words or abbreviations indicating the type of company such as LLC, Inc., etc. are not taken into account when determining distinguishability).
Keep an eye out for restricted words. These words, such as “FBI” or “Treasury,” are often restricted to keep your LLC from sounding like an official institution.
Alabama also has the following restrictions for LLC names:
- Any banking-related name needs a letter from the Alabama Banking Commissioner’s Office, and any insurance-related name needs a letter from the Alabama Insurance Commissioner’s Office.
- Any name using a professional designation in the name (e.g., engineering, attorney) requires a copy of the license of one officer/member or a letter from the governing agency allowing the use of the name without licensing.
- Your name cannot include any words that indicate or imply that the LLC is engaged in a business that is not authorized by law to pursue.
For more information, check out Alabama’s official state statutes.
2. Complete an LLC Business Name Search
Once you know your LLC name meets Alabama guidelines, it’s time to make sure it’s available by searching the Alabama Business Entity Search tool.
It is important that your name be distinguishable from all other business names on record with the Secretary of State.
In Alabama, words and abbreviations indicating the type of business entity (e.g., LLC, Incorporated, Corp.) are not taken into consideration when determining if a name is distinguishable.
Failure to use a distinguishable name could result in your formation filing being rejected.
What if my LLC name is already taken? If your LLC name is unavailable in Alabama, it’s time to come up with some new ideas.
How to Reserve or Register Your Business Name
Reserve Your Name
Alabama requires you to reserve your business name before you can register it by filing a Name Reservation Request Form for Domestic Entities.
Name reservations can be filed online or by mail with the Alabama Secretary of State. Online filers can reserve their name when filing their Certificate of Formation, while mail-in filers must submit their name reservation at least two weeks before registration. You can also reserve a name for at least one year prior to formation.
The filing fee is $25 by mail, $27 for online subscribers, and $28 for online non-subscribers.
Register Your Name
If you want to register a legal entity name for your LLC, you can do so at the time of formation filing. Alabama provides a section for your desired LLC name on the Certificate of Formation.
Registering a DBA (doing business as) name, which is called a trade name in Alabama, is a separate process that requires filing with the Secretary of State.
Alabama LLC Name Search FAQ
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in Alabama?
You can use the Alabama Business Entity Search tool to see if your preferred business name is available.
Should I name my LLC after myself?
While there’s no rule against naming an LLC after yourself, most experts advise against doing this.
One of the benefits of starting an LLC is the ability to choose a different name for your business, which can make it sound more professional.
What words can’t be used in an Alabama LLC name?
Business names generally can’t include words that imply the company is a banking or financial institution or that it’s affiliated with a local, state, or federal government agency.
Alabama also requires LLCs to receive approval to use words related to banking and insurance as well as professional designations such as engineering and attorney.
Should I use an LLC name generator?
If you’re having trouble choosing a name for your LLC, an LLC name generator can help you come up with some ideas.
What is a brand name?
A brand name is a name a company gives to a product or line of products. It can be the same as the company’s name or something different.
Do I have to include LLC in my name?
Yes. Alabama requires that its LLCs use “Limited Liability Company” or one of its abbreviations (e.g., LLC or L.L.C.) in their legal name.
Do I need to renew my business name in Alabama?
You do not need to renew your legal business name in Alabama, but trade names (DBA) must be renewed every five years with the Secretary of State.
Can my business name be different from my LLC name in Alabama?
Some companies choose to operate under a name that’s different from their legal name. This can either be called a “doing business as” (DBA) name or a trade name in Alabama.
In Alabama, trade names are filed with the Secretary of State.
Does my LLC need a DBA name?
Your LLC doesn’t need a DBA name unless it plans to do business under a name other than its legal name. Learn more about Alabama DBAs by reading our guide to filing for a DBA and selecting Alabama from the dropdown menu.