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How To Do A Washington Business Name Search

How To Do A Washington Business Name Search

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How To Do A Washington Business Name Search

If you are forming a business in Washington, the first thing you need to do is a business name search.  This search checks all the registered business entities in the state to see if the business name you want to use is available.  Like all other states, the state of Washington requires each LLC or corporation registered in the state to have a unique business name.  So, before starting your business, it’s important to run a business entity search to verify if the name is available through the Washington Office of the Secretary of State before registering your LLC or Corporation.  There is no fee to search.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Washington

Step 1: Visit the Washington Business Entity Database

Visit the Washington Office of the Secretary of State website.

Step 2: Search your Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Corporation Search” section of the site.  In this example, we will do an LLC name search to look up “Sew What.” After entering the name, click “Search.”  It is recommended to search by “Contains,” “Begins With,” and “Exact Match” to search your name thoroughly.

How to do a Washington Business Name Search

Step 3: Review 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 Washington, 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.

Washington 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 “Sew What, LLC.”

Washington LLC Business Name Search Details

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, “No value found.”  Even if the name looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will do their 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.

Washington Business Name Availability

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Washington.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it 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. 

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 Washington business entity database?

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

  • Business Name
  • UBI Number: The UBI or Unified Business Identifier is a unique nine-digit number that registers you with several state agencies and allows you to do business in Washington State.
  • Business Type: Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.
  • Principal Office Street Address: This could be the business’s physical address or the address where business records are stored.
  • Status: Active means the entity is in good standing, and all reports and filing fees are up to date. The names of “Inactive” results may be available to register.
  • Registered Agent Information:Washington 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 and contact information aren’t publicly listed.  
  • Governors: Names of the entity’s officers.
  • You are also able to look up the Certificate of Formation (LLC), Articles of Incorporation (Corp), and Annual Reports.

Washington Business Name Search FAQs

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

A sole proprietorship or partnership can use the 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 register for a Washington Trade Name, which is also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Assumed Name, or Fictitious Business Name.

Similar to the corporation or LLC, Trade Names need to be unique as well.

How do I form a Washtinton LLC?

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, read our step-by-step guide on forming a Washington LLC.

After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to register for Washington business licenses and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to ensure the business is legal to operate.

What are the requirements to name an LLC in Washington?

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 a Washington LLC name be reserved?

If there is a name you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Name Reservation Form. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 180 days.

How To Do A Washington Business Name Search

How To Do A Washington Business Name Search

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