How to Check Corporation Name Availability in Every State

Woman doing a corporation name search on her computer.

Before you form a corporation, you’ll need to complete a business name search with your state’s business name search tool to check if your corporation name is available.

We'll show you how to check corporation name availability in every state in this guide.

Or, use a professional service:

4.7 out of 5 stars ZenBusiness ($39 + state fee)

Corporation Name Search

A state’s business services division (typically the Secretary of State) requires all business names to be distinguishable from other business entities in the state. So, you’ll want to search and make sure no other businesses in the state are already using your name.

It is also useful to see if your corporation name is available as a web domain (URL).

Choose your state to check for a Corporation name search:

How to Search Available Corporation Names

All states provide an online business name search database to search for corporation name availability. 

Some states also offer preliminary screenings over the phone, via email, or by mailing a written request. Still, even if the online database shows that your name is available, we recommend calling or emailing for preliminary name approval if possible.

Want to learn more about corporations? Check out our What Is a Corporation guide to get started.

How to Check Available Domain Names

When deciding on a name for your corporation, you should make sure that a similar or exact domain name is available. A matching URL will help potential customers find your corporation faster.

Find a Domain Now

How to Register a Corporation Name

Register Your Name

A corporation name is officially registered when you file your state’s formation documents (e.g., Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Formation, Certificate of Incorporation, etc.). You can hire a professional service to form a corporation for you or start a corporation yourself.

Ready to register your corporation name? Use our Form a Corporation guide to get started.

If you want to register a DBA in your state (typically known as a trade name, assumed name, or fictitious name), that’s a separate process that requires filing a separate form with the state, county, or city.

Reserve Your Name

While not required, you typically have the option to reserve your corporation name in your state before you register it. This prevents other businesses from registering your name until you are ready to register it yourself. 

Name reservation durations often last between 30 and 120 days, and can usually be filed online or by mail.

Need Help Forming Your Corporation? ZenBusiness will get you started.

Corporation Name Requirements

Key Guidelines

All states have official state requirements for their corporation names. Typically, corporate names must contain words like “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or an abbreviation of one of these terms. 

There are also restricted words, such as “FBI” or “Treasury,” that you cannot use in order to keep your LLC from sounding like an official institution.

Check out our state-specific corporate name search guides to find your state’s corporation name requirements.

Distinguishability

Your name must be distinguishable from all other business names in your state. A distinguishable name is usually one that is substantively different from all other existing or reserved business names in the state.

If your corporation name isn’t distinguishable, your formation documents will likely be rejected.

For more information about corporation name distinguishability in your state, check out our state guides.

What if my corporation name is already taken? Our AI-powered corporation name generator will give you thousands of new ideas. 

For a list of brainstorming tips, check out our guide to naming your business.

Corporation Name Search FAQ

How do I check if a corporation name is taken?

You can use your state’s business name search tool to see if your business name is available.

In some states, you can also call, email, or submit a mailed request for a preliminary name availability screening.

Learn more about business entity name availability Corporation Name Search section.

Should I name my corporation after myself?

While there’s no rule against naming a corporation after yourself, most experts advise against doing this. 

One of the benefits of starting a corporation is the ability to choose a different name for your business, which can make it sound more professional.

To explore other naming options, use our free AI-powered business name generator.

What words can’t be used in a corporation 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.

Learn more about corporation naming requirements in the Corporation Name Requirements section.

Should I use a business name generator?

If you’re having trouble choosing a name for your corporation, a business name generator can help you come up with some ideas.

Do I have to include ‘corporation’ in my name?

Most states require that corporate names contain words like “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or an abbreviation of one of these terms. 

Learn more about corporation naming requirements in the Corporation Name Requirements section.

Do I need to renew my business name?

Most states don’t require corporations to renew their legal name, but DBA names may need to be renewed.

Can my business name be different from my corporation name?

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, known in many states as a trade name, assumed name, or fictitious name. 

DBA names are typically filed with either the state, the county, or the city.

Does my corporation need a DBA name?

Your corporation doesn’t need a DBA name unless it plans to do business under a name other than its legal name. Learn more with our DBA guide.

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