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How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

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How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

Starting a business in North Carolina 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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina business name search using the North Carolina Secretary of State business name database.

Related: Guide to starting a business in North Carolina

Step 1: Visit the North Carolina Entity Name Database

Visit the North Carolina Secretary of State website.

Step 2: Search for a Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Entity Name” field. In this example, we will do a North Carolina LLC name search by looking up “A1 Affordable Storage.” To be sure to search your name thoroughly, it is recommended to search by “Starting With,” “Any Words,” “All Words,” and “Exact” in the “Words” drop-down menu. Also, keep the default selection of “Company” in the “Search By” field.

How to do a North Carolina Business Name Search

Step 3: Review the Results

Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “A1 Affordable Storage”.  To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in North Carolina, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name, you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.

North Carolina Business Entity Search

To find more information about any 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 “A1 Affordable Storage LLC”.

North Carolina LLC Name Search Results

While the name “A1 Affordable Storage” by itself may not be available, other variants such as “A1 Affordable Storage of Charlotte” or “A1 Affordable Storage Solutions” are. Searching for those business names brings a result that shows there were no results found”. While final approval is still with the North Carolina Secretary of State, it is likely available to register.

North Carolina Business Name Availability

 

These are the basics of searching for a business name in North Carolina.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the North Carolina 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. 

Also, keep in mind 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?

What information can be found on the North Carolina business entity database?

Doing a North Carolina business search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:

  • Legal Name
  • Entity Type: Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.
  • Status: Current – Active means the entity is in good standing, and all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Admin. Dissolved”, “Dissolved,” and “Withdrawn.”. The names of these results may be available to register.
  • Registered Agent Information:North Carolina 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 listed.  
  • Principal Office Address: This could be the business’s physical address or the address where business records are stored.
  • Company Officials: Names of the officers and their titles.

North Carolina Business Name Search FAQs

How do I find the name of a North Carolina sole proprietorship?

A North Carolina sole proprietorship or partnership can use the small business owner(s) full first and last name as the business name, but many will want to operate under a specific business name. In order to register the business name, they will file the North Carolina Assumed Business Name Certificate, which is also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, or Fictitious Business Name, with the Secretary of State.

Similar to the corporation or LLC, Assumed Name registrations need to be unique and are registered through the Secretary of State’s office.

How do I form an LLC in North Carolina?

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 North Carolina LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the LLC Articles of Organization.

While not required in North Carolina, an LLC operating agreement, which 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 North Carolina business licenses and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so the business is legal to operate.

What are the naming guidelines for a North Carolina 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 North Carolina?

If there is a name you want to use but aren’t ready to form the LLC, the Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name can be filed to hold the name for up to 120 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 North Carolina Business Name Search

How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

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