Recently one of my startup business clients asked me, “Does my LLC name have to match my business name or website name? Many entrepreneurs are confused about LLC names. To help you, I have compiled advice from attorneys and startup experts to answer your LLC name questions.
No, your LLC name does not have to BE your business name or MATCH your website name. Your LLC name is your company’s legal entity name while your business name is your brand name to market to your customers. However, you WILL need to include the designation LLC in your business name on your State business registration application.
Read on to learn if your LLC name needs to be included in your business name, what are the legal requirements for LLC names, and also if you should add your LLC name to your business cards or website.
- How to Name Your LLC: Legal Regulations & Rules
- LLC Name vs Business Name Uses
- Links to US States LLC Name Search Databases
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington State
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
- FAQ: LLC Names
How to Name Your LLC: Legal Regulations & Rules
Every US State has slightly different rules regarding LLC names, however, these legal regulations and rules are common to the majority of States.
State differences tend to be slight such as allowing different abbreviations for LLC such as; L.L.C. or L.C. Some states list more disallowed professional terms if unrelated (unrelated to your type of products) including Underwriters, Surety, Trust, Insurance, Realtor and Attorney.
- Must include one of these words; Limited Liability Company, LLC or LC, to indicate that your business legal entity is an LLC
- Cannot match an existing LLC name – Your LLC name must be unique to your company and cannot be the same as one already registered with your State.
- Cannot contain words for other business entity types such as DBA, incorporated or corporation – which would be misleading to consumers.
- Cannot contain words unrelated to your business products or services – such as a bank, medical, or legal – if your company does not provide these services. If you are planning to start one of these types of businesses, consider forming a Professional LLC called a PLLC.
Wondering if your domain name and business name should match?
Here is my expert advice that I give my marketing clients
LLC Name vs Business Name Uses
|Name Usage||LLC Name||Business Name|
(Or trading name, trade name)
|EXAMPLE||ABC Partners LLC||Alex Bill & Cindy Caterers|
|Business Registration |
|YES||YES – must include LLC within business name such as this: |
Alex Bill &
Cindy Caterers, LLC
|Bank Accounts & Credit Cards||YES||NO|
|Vendor Credit Applications||YES||NO|
|Logo||YES and NO – more details||YES|
|Website||YES and NO – more details||YES|
Search for LLC Name Availability
As you learned above, one of the legal requirements and rules for LLC names is that they must be unique and not taken by another business registration in your State.
There are two (2) ways you can search:
- LLC Name Search Easy & Free – Use my recommended service Incfile that costs 0$ for LLC name search and setup – yes it is true! You only pay the required State fees
- DIY LLC Name Search – Use your State’s business registration database and search for your LLC name availability. Use my links to your US State LLC Name databases
Know that there are complex legal rules that differ by State. These types of slight word variations listed below do not qualify as creating distinguishability and thus will not be acceptable as LLC names uniqueness because they are deceptively similar:
- Single, Plural and Possessive Words
- A, An or The
- And, Or and &
- Hyphens, Periods and Commas
FYI: If you want to change the domain name on an existing website – it IS possible. Read my article showing you the steps on how to switch your domain name on all popular platforms such as Bluehost, GoDaddy, Shopify, Wix and Squarespace.
Links to US States LLC Name Search Databases
Washington D.C. Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs: Business Filings Search
(you need to create a CorpOnline account)
FAQ: LLC Names
In most States, it is not legally required to included your LLC designation on your business cards, however, it could be an advantage to add LLC onto your business cards.
Including your full business name with LLC communicates to clients your professionalism. It also notifies them that they are engaging in business with a legal entity – your LLC – and if they choose to sue your company they will not be able to get your personal assets.
Most brand name companies do not elect to include LLC on their business cards because they want customers to focus on their branding message.
No and yes.
No, you do not have to include LLC in your company name on your graphic banner headers on your website pages. Here is where you focus on your brand name.
In most cases, no you should not include LLC in your logo. Logos are visual representations of your branding messages and do not need to contain extra legal abbreviations to get in the way.
Some professions and States require including LLC in logos for attorneys, bankers, and insurance agents. Check with your business lawyer.
PS – I launched a design contest at 99designs for my new logo and I love it! Read about my experience here
Check out my guide on how to start your business right with tons of useful tips I learned by successfully starting, building, and selling multiple companies.