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How To Do A Michigan Business Name Search

How To Do A Michigan Business Name Search

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How To Do A Michigan Business Name Search

Starting a business in Michigan involves several steps, but one of the first is choosing a business name. This step is a little more complicated when setting up an LLC or corporation in Michigan because these business structures must have a unique name. 

To help you verify that your corporation or LLC is available to use, our step-by-step guide will show you how to quickly do a Michigan business name search using the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs business name database.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Michigan

Step 1: Visit the Michigan Entity Name Database

Visit the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs 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 Michigan LLC name search by looking up “Sew What.” After entering a company name. click “Search.” It’s 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 Business Name Search in Michigan

Step 3: Review the Results

When we search the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Sew What.” To register a corporation or LLC name in Michigan, 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.

Michigan Business Entity Results

To find more information about each of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Entity Name” column to see a detailed report.  In this example, we will look up “Sew What, L.L.C..” Even if you see your exact name in the results, you will want to check if the business in good standing. In this example, Sew What, L.L.C. hasn’t been in good standing since 2003. A business name that is not in good standing may be available for another to register.

Michigan LLC Business Name Result

While the name “Sew What, LLC” by itself may not be available, other variants, such as “Sew What Quilting” or “Sew What Seamstress,” 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 Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, it is likely available to register. 

Michigan Available Business Names

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Michigan.  Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs 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 Michigan business entity database?

The Michigan business entity search can uncover several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:

  • Entity type: Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
  • Status: Good standing means all reports and filing fees are up to date
  • Principal Address: This could be the business’s physical address or the address where business records are stored.
  • Resident Agent Information:Michigan resident agent (commonly known as a 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.  
  • Filing Date: The date the entity was filed with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
  • Officer Names: Names of the officers and their title

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?

Steps To Do A Michigan Business Name Search

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

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Business Entity Database provides information on corporations and LLCs registered in Michigan.  The names of Michigan sole proprietorships or general partnerships are not centralized. Instead, they are registered with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the small business is located. While they are registered with the County Clerk, the name must not match any name in the state business name database.

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

How do I form an LLC in Michigan?

Before forming an LLC in Michigan, be sure to do a business entity search first to ensure the name is available. Once you know the LLC name is available, read our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization to learn how to form a Michigan LLC.

While not required in Michigan, 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 any Michigan business licenses and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).  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 Michigan 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 Michigan?

If there is a name you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can reserve a name with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs by filing the Application for Reservation of Name. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 6 months.


  • 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 Michigan Business Name Search

How To Do A Michigan Business Name Search

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