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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.

Alabama
  • Business Entity Search: From the Alabama Secretary of State. Offers information on searching active and inactive names of corporations qualified to transact business in Alabama.
  • Alabama Name Reservation: [PDF] From the Alabama Secretary of State. This form can be completed and mailed to register a business name.
Alaska
Arizona 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.
Arkansas
  • Business Entity Search: From the Arkansas Secretary of State
  • Doing-Business-As (DBA) Certificate: This is required for any sole proprietorship or general partnership operating under a fictitious name or names other than the owners. To do a business name search for a sole proprietorship or partnership, contact the county clerk's office in the county where the business is located.
California
  • California Business Search: From the Secretary of State. Search for California corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability companies currently registered with the Secretary of State.
  • Corporation Name Availability: From the Secretary of State. Offers information on checking the availability of a company name, reserving a corporate name, and more.
  • Reserve an Entity Name: From the Secretary of State
  • You must contact the city and/or county clerk and/or recorder where the principal place of business is located for information regarding filing or registering fictitious business names.
Colorado
  • Business Name Search: From the Colorado Secretary of State. Search for names of corporations, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability limited partnerships.
  • Trade Name Search: From Colorado Department of Revenue. Search trade names (or DBAs "doing business as") of sole proprietorships and general partnerships registered with the Department of Revenue.
  • Trade Name Registration: From the Colorado Secretary of State: From the Colorado Secretary of State.
Connecticut
Delaware
  • Name Availability Search: From the Delaware Secretary of State. Check the status of any entity registered in the state of Delaware.
  • Register your business.
  • DBA's or Doing-Business-As names are registered in the Prothonotary's office in the county in which you are doing business.
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
  • Register a Business: From the Illinois Secretary of State. You can also find forms on this page to reserve a business name.
Indiana
  • Business Services: From the Indiana Secretary of State. This site offers business entity name searches and checks name availability online.
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
  • Search For Business Entities: From the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Name Reservations: Search the corporate database, the name reservation database, the trademark database from the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
  • Corporation and Business Entity Database: From the New York Department of State. Includes businesses and not-for-profit corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and more.
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
U.S. Virgin Islands
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

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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