Your company name is important. It’s your first impression, and it’s how people will remember you.
You don’t want to be the business with a forgettable name. So, when you’ve got that perfect name in mind, that clever alliteration or meaningful acronym, you might think about reserving it before someone else does.
Naming your company is one of the first official steps when starting an LLC in Alabama. In certain situations, it may be necessary to reserve a business name while you’re preparing to bring your business idea to life.
In this article, we’ll explain when reserving a business name is necessary and guide you through all the steps involved.
Don’t forget to get your business domain name so nobody else can use it. This will protect your brand and make things much easier for you later. Secure it easily through GoDaddy.
Are You Required to Reserve a Business Name?
In Alabama, reserving a business name is the first step in forming your LLC. You can’t launch your business without first receiving confirmation of your reservation. So, before you do anything else, file a “Name Reservation for Domestic Entities” form with the Secretary of State’s Office and obtain your name reservation certificate, which you’ll need to submit it with your Certificate of Formation.
Should You Reserve Your LLC Name?
Maybe it took you sleepless nights of brainstorming, or maybe you thought of it while sitting at a traffic light. No matter how you came up with your memorable LLC name, you’ll want to make sure that it’s available and ready to use when you file your Alabama LLC registration.
Make sure to request a name reservation before you file your Certificate of Formation. There’s a $28 fee to file online and a $10 fee to file by mail. Even though that $10 fee looks a lot better on paper, you’re probably eager to start your business, and since you can’t do so until you reserve a name, we recommend filing by email because it’s processed almost immediately.
Even if your business isn’t quite ready yet, you might consider reserving a name in advance. Filing an application to reserve your business name gives you “dibs” and ensures that competitors aren’t able to snag it while you’re preparing for launch. If you’re worried about that perfect name getting claimed by someone else, reserve your name well ahead of time, since you’ll need to do so before forming your LLC anyway.
How Long Does a Alabama Business Name Reservation Last?
Anyone planning to do business within the state of Alabama must reserve an entity name. Filing your name registration prevents another entity from using that name to conduct business in the state during the time of your hold. An entity name reservation in the state of Alabama will hold your name for an entire year, at which point you can renew your reservation.
Be careful, though, that you don’t simply submit another “Name Reservation for Domestic Entities” form, because name renewal requires a different form, called the “Name Reservation Renewal Request.”
Or, you can renew your reservation online through the Secretary of State Online Services page. The fees for renewing are the same ($28 online and $10 by mail). Your renewal must be filed in the 90 days before your reservation expires, and you must pay the fee with each renewal request.
How do I Reserve a Business Name in Alabama?
Got a name in mind? Perfect. Follow these steps to reserve it.
Before submitting your application to reserve your business name, you first need to check name availability. Use the Business Entity Search on the Alabama SOS website to see if any existing companies are already using your name idea. Simply search for your name and if you see “no matches found,” you’re good to go! If your search turns up a company using that name, it’s back to the drawing board. Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the state of Alabama:
- Your name must include L.L.C. or LLC
- Your name can’t use any word that would imply it’s a banking, insurance, or government agency.
- The following do not distinguish your name from another:
- Designators like LLC or Inc. (New Company LLC is the same as New Company Inc.)
- A, An, or The
- And, or
All good? Then check to see if your LLC name is available. If it is, let out a sigh of relief—you’re ready to reserve it.
If it’s efficiency you’re looking for, filing your name reservation online is by far the quickest method. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to the Alabama Secretary of State Online Services page and click “Name Reservation Menu,” then “Name Reservation.”
- At the bottom of the page, select Non-subscriber
- On the next page, enter your contact information
- Enter your LLC name. For “Type of Reservation,” choose Domestic, and for “Type of Entity,” choose Limited Liability Company
- Next, by “Requestor is an,” select Individual
- After reviewing the summary, enter your credit card information to pay the $28 fee, and that’s it! You’ll be directed to a download page for your Name Reservation Approval. You’ll also be emailed a link. The link expires after 15 days, so make sure you save or print it within two weeks.
The steps above only take a few minutes, but if you prefer postal mail, that’s an option as well. Download the “Name Reservation Request Form” and send it to:
Office of the Secretary of State
P.O. Box 5616
Montgomery, Alabama 36103
Note: You may not send this form via email. Emailed forms are deemed invalid.
The fee for a mailed filing is $10 and can be paid via check, money order, or by including your credit card information on the form. For a faster turnaround, you can pay $25 instead, and your form will be processed within 24 hours of receipt.
Wrapping up and Choosing the Best Route
Your LLC name is an important part of the business. Before your business can start operating, hiring, and raking in cash, you need to file a name reservation to get the ball rolling. If you’re not ready to launch your business, but you’ve got a perfect name and you think someone else might claim it, we’d suggest filing your reservation well in advance, since you’re required to do so anyway. That way, you can lock down that clever name right away, then take care of your other business details.
Save Time by Using a Professional LLC Service
As a business owner, you have a lot to think about. Pile on the responsibility of handling state correspondence, tax information, and more while keeping your LLC compliant, and you’ve got yourself a pretty full plate. Sometimes the best move is to let someone else take care of the paperwork for you. This way, you can sleep easy knowing you’ll never miss a deadline or compliance requirement with the state of Wyoming.
While LegalZoom is by far the most well-known LLC formation service and has decent overall value, we highly recommend looking into ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to, and these two are reliable, professional, and efficient.