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How To Do An Iowa Business Name Search

How To Do An Iowa Business Name Search

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How To Do An Iowa Business Name Search

If you are forming an LLC or a corporation in Iowa, the first thing you need to do is a business name search. Like all other states, Iowa requires each LLC or corporation registered in the state to have a unique business name. You can do an Iowa business name search on the Iowa Secretary of State website to see if the business name you want to use is available.  

Related: Guide to starting a business in Iowa

Steps For Searching Corporation and LLC Names In Iowa

Step 1: Visit the Iowa Entity Name Database

Go to the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

Step 2: Search your Business Name

How to do an Iowa Business Name Search

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Entity Name” field.  In this example, we will do an Iowa LLC name search by looking up “Lawn Kings.” Enter the company name, and click “Search.”

Step 3: Review Results

When we search the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Lawn Kings.” To register a corporation or LLC name in Iowa, the name must be distinguishable from the other registered names. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name, you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.

Iowa Business Entity Name Results

To find more information about each of the registered business names, click on the link under “Business No.” for a detailed report.

Iowa LLC Name Search

While the name “Lawn Kings” isn’t available, searching for “Cowboy Cleaners” is an example of a business name search for an available name. Searching for this name brings a result that says, “Sorry, no results.”  While final approval is still with the Secretary of State, it is likely available to register. 

Iowa Available Business Name Search

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Iowa.  Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names.

What information can be found on the Iowa business entity database?

An Iowa business entity search can uncover several pieces of information about businesses in the state. Some of the highlights include:

  • Business Number: This is the entity registration number assigned by the Iowa Secretary of State.
  • Status: Active means the business entity is in good standing with the Secretary of State, and all reports and filing fees are up to date.
  • Expiration Date: How long the entity intends to operate. Most select Perpetual, as they intend to allow the business to operate indefinitely.
  • Effective Date: Date when the LLC officially started.
  • Filing Date: Date when the Certificate of Organization was submitted. A company can elect to have an effective date up to 120 days later than the filing date.
  • Registered Agent Information: An Iowa registered agent is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal or tax notice need to be sent to the business.  This is often one of the owners, and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information.  Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, so their home address isn’t publicly listed.  

Something to keep in mind is that even though each Corporation and LLC name must be unique, it may not stop someone else from using that name since business names for a sole proprietorship or partnership are not registered by the Secretary of State and are not required to be unique.  To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.

Related: Should I trademark my business name?

Iowa Business Name Search FAQs

How do I find the business name of an Iowa sole proprietorship?

Unlike corporations and LLCs in Iowa, the names of Iowa sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not listed on the state database. Instead, they are registered with the County Recorder’s office in the county where the business is located. 

Registering a name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership requires filing an Iowa Trade Name (often referred to as a DBA, Doing Business As, or Fictitious Name) with the County Clerk. 

How do I form an LLC in Iowa?

Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form an Iowa LLC by reading our step-by-step guide. After setting up the LLC, there are a few additional tasks to take care of.

While not required in Iowa, an LLC operating agreement, which basically sets the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.

After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to register for any Iowa business licenses and possibly obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).  This is a “social security number” for the business. 

What are the naming guidelines for an Iowa LLC?

In addition to being unique, the LLC’s name must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, LLC, L.L.C., etc., and it may not use restricted words such as bank or insurance unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.

Can an LLC name be reserved in Iowa?

If there is a name you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Reservation of Name (Form 501A.301) with the Iowa Secretary of State to hold a name for up to 120 days.


  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

How To Do An Iowa Business Name Search

How To Do An Iowa Business Name Search

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