How to Search Available LLC Names in Pennsylvania
1. Check Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania LLC names include:
- Your name must include “company,” “limited,” or “limited liability company;” an abbreviation of one of those terms; or words or abbreviations with the same meaning.
- Your name must be distinguishable from any existing business in the state. This includes Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania also has the following restrictions for LLC names:
- Your name cannot include any words implying that it is a business corporation, such as “corporation” or “incorporated” or an abbreviation of these terms.
- You may need approval from the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, the Department of Education, the Department of Banking and Securities, the Insurance Department, or the Public Utility Commission to include certain restricted words.
For more information, check out the Pennsylvania business registration guidelines.
2. Complete an LLC Business Name Search
Once you know your LLC name meets Pennsylvania guidelines, it’s time to make sure it’s available by searching the Pennsylvania Business Entity Name Search tool.
It is important that your name be distinguishable from all other business names. In Pennsylvania, a distinguishable name is one that is substantively different from all existing and registered business names in the state.
Business entity type identifiers (e.g., LLC, Corporation) do NOT make a name distinguishable in Pennsylvania.
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 Pennsylvania, 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 Pennsylvania 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. Pennsylvania provides a section for your desired LLC name on the Certificate of Organization.
Registering a DBA (doing business as) name, called a ficticious name in Pennsylvania, is a separate process that requires filing with the Department of State.
Pennsylvania LLC Name Search FAQ
How do I check if an LLC name is taken in Pennsylvania?
You can use the Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania 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, you may need approval from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, the Department of Education, the Department of Banking and Securities, the Insurance Department, or the Public Utility Commission to include certain restricted words.
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. Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania?
No. Pennsylvania does not require LLCs to renew their legal name or any DBAs.
Can my business name be different from my LLC name in Pennsylvania?
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 ficticious name in Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, fictitious names are filed with the Department 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 Pennsylvania DBAs by reading our guide to filing for a DBA and selecting Pennsylvania from the dropdown menu.