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How To Do A Massachusetts Business Name Search

How To Do A Massachusetts Business Name Search

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How To Do A Massachusetts Business Name Search

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

Related: Guide to starting a business in Massachusetts

Step 1: Visit the Massachusetts Entity Name Database

Visit the Massachusetts Secretary of State – Commonwealth Corporations Division website.

Step 2: Search your Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Search by entity name” field.  In this example, we will do a Massachusetts LLC name search by looking up “Fix our Lawn” and clicking on the “Search Corporations” button. It is recommended that you try your search with the “Search type” drop-down menu (“Begins with,” “Exact match,” and “Full text”). Otherwise, you may miss a name that is already registered.

How To Do A Massachusetts Business Name Search

Step 3: Review Results

When we search the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Fix our Lawn.” In this instance, there is only one, but your search may show several more. To register a corporation or LLC name in Massachusetts, 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.

Massachusetts Business Name Search Results

To view detailed reports on each registered business name, click on the link in the “Entity Name” column. 

Massachusetts LLC Name Search Results

While the name “Fix our Lawn” by itself may not be available, other variants, such as “Fix our Lawn Fast” or “Fix our Lawn Landscaping,” are. Searching for those business names brings a result that says, “No records found; try a new search using different criteria.”  While final approval is still with the Secretary of State, it is likely available to register. 

Massachusetts Available Business Names

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Massachusetts.  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 Massachusetts business entity database?

The database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:

  • Business Name
  • Entity Type: Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.
  • ID Number: Number that is assigned to a new corporation or LLC by the Massachusetts Secretary of State.
  • Date of Organization: The date the entity was filed with the Secretary of State
  • Principal Address: This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
  • Resident Agent Information:Massachusetts resident 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 Resident Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, so their home address isn’t publically listed. 
  • Manager Address: Name and address of each manager.
  • You can also view filings such as the Massachusetts LLC annual report, certificate of organization, and more.

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 Massachusetts 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?

Massachusetts Business Name Search FAQs

How do I find the business name of a Massachusetts sole proprietorship?

Unlike corporations and LLCs in Massachusetts, the names of Massachusetts sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not listed on the state database. Instead, they are registered with the Town Clerk or City Clerk in the community where the business is located. 

Registering a name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership requires filing a Massachusetts Business Certificate Form (often referred to as a DBA or Doing Business As name) with the County Clerk. 

How do I form an LLC in Massachusetts?

Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use.  Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a Massachusetts LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in Massachusetts, an LLC operating agreement, which basically are 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 Massachusetts business licenses and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is commonly needed.  This is a “social security number” for the business.  There is no cost to get one through the IRS.

What are the naming guidelines for a Massachusetts LLC?

In addition to the name being unique, the name of the LLC must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, Liability Company, L.L.C., etc., in addition to not using restricted words such as bank or insurance, unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.

Can an LLC name be reserved in Massachusetts?

If there is a name you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Application for Reservation of Name. The name registration will hold a name for up to 60 days.

Author

  • 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 A Massachusetts Business Name Search

How To Do A Massachusetts Business Name Search

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