How to Search Available LLC Names in Washington D.C.
1. Check Washington D.C. LLC Naming Guidelines
Before you do a name availability search, it makes sense to check if your business name meets the basic district guidelines.
Some key guidelines for Washington D.C. LLC names include:
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or “limited company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC, L.L.C., LC, or L.C.).
- Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in the district. This includes Washington D.C. reserved names.
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.
Additionally, Washington D.C. LLC names cannot contain the words “bank,” “banking,” “credit union,” “insurance,” or words of similar meaning without the prior approval of the Mayor.
2. Complete an LLC Business Name Search
Once you know your LLC name meets Washington D.C. guidelines, it’s time to make sure it’s available by using the Washington D.C. Business Entity Search tool.
It is important that your name be distinguishable from all other business names. In Washington D.C., a distinguishable name is one that is substantively different from all other existing and reserved business names in the district.
Business entity type identifiers (e.g., LLC, Corp.) do NOT make a name distinguishable in Washington D.C.
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 Washington D.C., it’s time to come up with some new ideas.
How to Reserve or Register Your Business Name
Reserve Your Name
You can optionally reserve your LLC name in Washington D.C. for up to 120 days before you officially register it. This prevents other businesses from registering your name until you have the opportunity to register it yourself.
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. Washington D.C. provides a section for your desired LLC name on the Articles of Organization.
Registering a DBA (doing business as) name, called a trade name in Washington D.C., is a separate process that requires filing with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Washington D.C. LLC Name Search FAQ
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in Washington D.C.?
You can use the Washington D.C. 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 a Washington D.C. 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.
Washington D.C. LLC names cannot contain the words “bank,” “banking,” “credit union,” “insurance,” or words of similar meaning without the prior approval of the Mayor.
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. Washington D.C. 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 Washington D.C.?
No. Washington D.C. does not require LLCs to renew their legal name, but trade names must be renewed every two years.
Can my business name be different from my LLC name in Washington D.C.?
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 Washington D.C.
In Washington D.C., trade names are filed with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
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 Washington D.C. DBAs by reading our guide to filing for a DBA and selecting Washington D.C. from the dropdown menu.