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How To Do A Virginia Business Name Search

How To Do A Virginia Business Name Search

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How To Do A Virginia Business Name Search

Starting a business in Virginia 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 Virginia, because these entities 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 Virginia business name search using the Virginia State Corporation Commission business name database.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Virginia

Virginia Business Name Search FAQs

Step 1: Visit the Business Name Database

Go to the Virginia State Corporation Commission website

Step 2: Search for a Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Enter entity name” field.  In this example, we will do a Virginia LLC name search by looking up “Sew What.” Once your name is entered, click “Name Check.”

How to do a Virginia business name search

Step 3: Review the Results

When we search for this name, we get the message “Name is not distinguishable.” To register a corporation or LLC name in Virginia, 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.

Virginia business name search

To find more information about any of the registered business names, click on the name to see a detailed report.  In this example, we will look up “Sew What Inc.”

Virginia Business Entity Search Results

While the name “Sew What” by itself may not be available, other variants such as “Sew What Seamstress.” Searching for this business name brings a result that says, “Yes, this name is distinguishable on the records of the Commission at this time.” Even if the name looks like it is available, the State Corporation Commission will do its own search to avoid confusing potential customers with a business name that sounds like someone else’s. Typically words that sound alike but are spelled differently, and even abbreviations will make names show up as available but won’t be approved.

Virginia Business Name Availability

These are the basics of searching for a small business name in Virginia.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the State Corporation Commission 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 Virginia 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.
  • Date of Formation / Registration: The date the entity was first filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
  • Status: Active means the entity is in good standing, which means all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Cancelled,” “Purged,” “Fee Delinquent,” and “Terminated.” The names of these inactive results may be available to register.
  • Principal Office: This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
  • Registered Agent Information:Virginia 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.  
  • Officer Contact Information: Names of the officers and their titles.

Virginia Business Name Search FAQs

How do I find a name for a Virginia sole proprietorship?

Unlike corporations and LLCs in Virginia, the names of Virginia sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not listed on the Virginia Corporation Commission’s name database. Instead, they are registered with the Clerk of the Circuit Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located. 

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

How do I form an LLC in Virginia?

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

While not required in Virginia, an LLC Operating Agreement, which contains the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.

After forming a Limited Liability Company, don’t forget to register for a Virginia business license and possibly obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

What are the requirements to name an LLC in Virginia?

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 Virginia?

If you want a name but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Reservation of a Business Entity Name (Form SCC631) with the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission. The reservation will hold a name for up to 120 days.

How To Do A Virginia Business Name Search

How To Do A Virginia Business Name Search

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