Register Your Business Name: State Resources
If you're starting a small business, one of your first considerations is choosing and registering your business's name. In the alternative, if you already have your business registered and wish to operate under a fictitious business name, you can register a different name as "doing business as" (DBA). The Small Business Administration (sba.gov) has resources to help new business owners get off on the right foot. We have also provided a table of state-specific resources below.
Choosing Your Business Name
The name you choose for your business provides some immediate business information for your potential customers.
- It may describe the type of business activities your company engages in.
- It may include the name of the business owners.
- The company name may say something about the type of legal entity or business structure (LLC, LLP, or Inc.).
Once you've chosen a name — or a few names — you'll need to check business name availability with the appropriate state agencies. For most states, you can do this through the Secretary of State's business search database.
Registering Your Business Name
Registering your business (or with some states, filing to hold your name) with the Secretary of State will ensure the name you want for your business is all yours. You can do this yourself through the forms provided on the state's website or have an attorney file the proper business forms for you.
For all business filings, you must also include a registered agent. A registered agent is a person, or corporation (there are some businesses that provide resident agent services if you do not have someone), who will accept service on behalf of the business, or any other compliance-related documents sent to the business.
State Resources for Registering Your Business
FindLaw has made it easy for business owners to register their businesses. Below are websites for local government and state agencies to register your business in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
|The Arizona Secretary of State does not record corporations or limited liability companies for the state of Arizona. If you want to file a corporation or LLC, contact the Arizona Corporation Commission.
|District of Columbia
|U.S. Virgin Islands
Do You Need a Business Attorney?
Whether you want to start a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, an S-Corp, or a nonprofit corporation, getting legal advice early in the process can make a big difference. FindLaw's Starting a Business section can provide helpful background information as well as start-up documents.
A local attorney can help draft or customize all required legal documents, from articles of incorporation and partnership agreements to operating agreements and employment contracts. Find a business and commercial lawyer in your area.
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