How to Check Corporation Name Availability in California

Woman doing a California corporation name search on her computer.

Before you form a corporation, you’ll need to complete a business name search with the California Business Search tool to check if your corporation name is available.

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

Or, use a professional service:

4.7 out of 5 stars ZenBusiness ($49 + state fee)

California Corporation Name Search

The California 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).

SKIP AHEAD:

  1. How to Register a Corporation Name in California
  2. California Corporation Name Requirements
  3. California Corporation Name Search FAQ

How to Search Available California Corporation Names

Once you know your corporation name meets California business name guidelines, make sure it’s available by using the California Business Search tool.

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 in California

Register Your Name

A corporation name is officially registered when you file your California Articles of Incorporation. 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 California, known as a fictitious business name, that’s a separate process that requires filing a separate form with your local county office.

Reserve Your Name

While not required, you have the option to reserve your corporation name in California for up to 60 days before you register it. This prevents other businesses from registering your name until you are ready to register it yourself. 

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

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

California Corporation Name Requirements

Key Guidelines

California has official requirements for its corporation names.

The name must contain the word word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “limited” 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.

California corporation names also cannot use the words “bank,” “trust,” “trustee,” “credit union,” or related words without approval from the Commissioner of Business Oversight.

For more information, check out the Secretary of State document concerning California business entity name regulations.

Distinguishability

Your name must be distinguishable from all other California business names. In California, a distinguishable name is one that contains different letters or numerals, or letters or numerals in a different order.

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

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

If your corporation name isn’t distinguishable, your Articles of Incorporation filing will likely be rejected.

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.

California Corporation Name Search FAQ

How do I check if a corporation 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 California 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 California corporation name?

Business names generally can’t include words that imply the company is affiliated with a local, state, or federal government agency.

California corporation names cannot use the words “bank,” “trust,” “trustee,” “credit union,” or related words without approval from the Commissioner of Business Oversight.

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

Should I use a business name generator?

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

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

California corporation names must contain the word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “limited” or an abbreviation of one of these terms.

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

Do I need to renew my business name in California?

California doesn't require corporations to renew their legal name, but California DBAs must be renewed every five years.

Can my business name be different from my corporation 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 fictitious business name in California. 

In California, fictitious business names for corporations are filed with the applicable county office.

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

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 California DBA guide.