California Business Name Search

A laptop with a search engine open that says "LLC Name Search"

Before you form an LLC, register a fictitious business name, or start a corporation, you'll need to complete a California Secretary of State business search (CA SOS Business Search). You'll perform a California Business Search using the California Business Search tool to see if your name is unique.

In our Business Name Search California guide, we'll show you exactly how to check LLC name availability in California.

Recommended: ZenBusiness will register your business name when they form your LLC for $49 (plus state fees).

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Complete a California Business Search

Complete a Domain Name Search

Register Your Business Name

California LLC Name Search

The California Secretary of State requires all business names to be distinguishable from other business entities in the state.

It's also important to search for a matching domain name (URL).

How to Search Available LLC Names

You can check your business name availability by searching the California Business Search online database.

Recommended: If you don’t have a business name yet or find that yours is taken, use our LLC Name Generator.

How to Check Available Domain Names

When choosing a business name you'll need to find out whether or not a good web domain name is available. Having a URL that clearly matches your business name is important. This small step can make a big difference in how prospective customers find your business.

The best way to determine if your desired URL is available is to search for it using your preferred domain registry, such as GoDaddy.

Find a Domain Now

How to Register Your Business Name

Register Your Name

An LLC name is officially registered when you file your LLC application documents and start an LLC.

Ready to register your LLC name? Use our California LLC guide to get started.

Registering a DBA in California (also known as a fictitious business name) is a separate process that requires filing in the county of business.

Reserve Your Name

You can optionally reserve your LLC name in California for up to 60 days before you officially register it. This prevents other businesses from registering your name until you have the opportunity to register it yourself. 

Name reservations can be filed by mail or in-person with the California Secretary of State. The filing fee is $10, plus an additional $10 if filing in person.

California Naming Requirements

Some key guidelines for California LLC names include:

  • Your name must include the phrase "limited liability company," "limited company," or the abbreviation "L.L.C.", "LLC", "L.C." or "LC" in uppercase or lowercase letters.
  • Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in the state. This includes California 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.

California also has the following restrictions for LLC names:

  • Your name cannot imply that the LLC is organized for an unlawful purpose.
  • Your name cannot use the words “bank,” “trust,” “trustee,” “credit union,” or related words without approval from the Commissioner of Business Oversight.
  • Your name cannot include the words “incorporated,” “inc.,” “corporation,” or “corp.” 

For more information, check out California’s business naming guidelines.

Distinguishability

It is important that your name be distinguishable from all other business names. In California, a distinguishable name is one that is substantively different from all other existing or reserved business names in the state.

The following differences do NOT make a name distinguishable in California:

  • Existence or absence of business identifiers (e.g., LLC, LP, Corp., etc.)
  • Differences in letter case or use of superscript or subscript
  • Differences in typeface, punctuation, or spaces

Failure to use a distinguishable name could result in your formation filing being rejected.

Is your name already taken? Our free AI-powered LLC name generator will generate thousands of new ideas.

California LLC Name Search FAQ

How do I check if an LLC name is taken in California?

You can use the California Business Search tool to see if your business name is available.

Learn more about business entity name availability in the How to Search Available LLC Names section.

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.

To explore other naming options, use your free AI-powered LLC Name Generator.

What words can’t be used in a California 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.

Additionally, California LLC names cannot imply that the LLC is organized for an unlawful purpose, include the words “bank,” “trust,” “trustee,” “credit union,” or related words without approval, or include the words “incorporated,” “inc.,” “corporation,” or “corp.” 

Learn more about LLC naming requirements in the California Naming Requirements section.

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.

Learn more about branding with your business entity name with our How to Name an LLC guide.

Do I have to include LLC in my name?

Yes. California requires that its LLCs use “Limited Liability Company” or one of its abbreviations (e.g., LLC or L.L.C.) in their legal name.

Learn more about LLC naming requirements in the California Naming Requirements section.

Do I need to renew my business name in California?

California doesn't require LLCs to renew their legal name, but fictitious business names must be renewed every five years with the applicable county office.

Learn more about fictitious business names with our California DBA guide.

Can my business name be different from my LLC name in California?

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 fictitious business name in California. 

In California, LLC fictitious business names are filed with the county of business.

Learn more about fictitious business names with our California DBA guide.

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 California DBAs by reading our guide to filing for a DBA and selecting California from the dropdown menu.