When planning to start an Alaska LLC, first comes your big idea, your product or service, the meat and potatoes of your business. After all, that’s how you’ll build a dream business.
But after the initial rush of deciding to take your idea to market, you have to answer an important and pressing question: “what do I call it?”
Every LLC needs a name, preferably a catchy one, specifically one that isn’t already in use. After all, despite how clever it may be, you can’t steal someone else’s name.
“But,” you may ask, “how do I know if a name is already in use?” It’s a good question. There are a lot of businesses in Alaska, a lot of names to check. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to go about it: performing an LLC name search.
Quick Note: If you’d like to save time, an LLC formation service (like LegalZoom and ZenBusiness) can perform an LLC name search and register the business on your behalf. No need to navigate confusing state-website portals or file anything yourself.
Reasons to Perform an LLC Name Search
Checking for Alaska LLC name availability is the most common reason to perform a search, but it’s far from the only one. Here are a few other reasons you might search for a name:
1) Finding Similar Names
You don’t want potential customers confusing you with another company, especially if that company is a competitor. Your proposed name might be available, but there could also be multiple businesses out there with deceivingly similar ones. If you don’t want your LLC getting mixed up with other businesses, this might prompt you to find a new name.
2) Checking Your Business Status
Once you’ve filed the Articles of Organization, obtained a business license, and started your Alaska LLC, you can periodically check its status by searching for your existing name. This will confirm your business’ good standing with the state and provide your entity ID number, which is required for certain filings.
3) Registered Agent and Office Information
At some point, you might need to send a business service of process. Or, more positively, you might want to partner with them. In either case, you’ll need their Alaska registered agent name and office address, readily available through a name search.
4) Maintaining Current Business Information
When modifying your LLC’s information – like changing your registered agent or principal address to a member or a registered agent service – you will want to confirm the information that the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development already has on file. A name search will take care of this for you.
How to Perform an Alaska LLC Name Search
Every business operating in Alaska is required to apply for a business license before commencing activities in the state. This license puts them on file with the Department of Commerce, making their information public and accessible through a business license search.
Are you simply checking name availability? Just enter your desired name, click search, and see if anything comes up. If you see another company with the same name, you’re out of luck. But if the search returns no results, you’re in the clear! Go ahead and file your Articles of Organization or reserve your name. If there’s a name that’s deceptively similar to the one you want, you’ll probably want to rethink your choice as well.
But if you’re searching a business name for some other reason, if you need specific information about a certain business, enter its name or entity ID number. You don’t need to enter the exact name, partial names will still issue results. The page will display all companies that match your search, displaying their entity types, entity IDs, official name, and status (good standing, dissolved, etc.)
Need more? Click on the desired company’s entity ID number. This will bring up a page that with the following information:
- Entity type
- ID number
- Date of formation
- Home state
- Next Biennial Report due date
- Mailing address
- Physical address
- Registered agent name
- Registered agent mailing and physical address
You won’t need this info, of course, if you’re simply checking to see if your name is in use. However, if you need other information about a particular business, it’s there at your fingertips.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the business license search, you plugged in your desired name, you hit search, and there it was: your precious name, already in use. What now?
If your LLC is domestic (formed in Alaska), your only option is to start brainstorming ideas for a different one. Just don’t use one that’s too similar. Then, when you’ve found an acceptable, available name, reserve or register it.
For foreign entities, the process is a little trickier. Because your LLC already has a valid name, you will likely want to use the same one in Alaska. However, if this name is already in use, you’ll need to come up with something different. This is called an “assumed name” and you can designate one on your Certificate of Registration when you foreign qualify in Alaska.
How to Make an Alaska LLC Name Distinguishable
Don’t forget that, like other states, Alaska has a set of requirements for business names. Whether you’re filing a name reservation, Articles of Organization, or Certificate of Registration, your business name must:
- Identify its business type by using a term like “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “Ltd.”
- Not include any term that implies it is a governmental unit like a city, village, or borough.
- Be available for use in the state and distinguishable from all other registered and reserved names.
But how do you make a name distinguishable? Fortunately, the state provides some guidelines. A name is NOT considered distinguishable due to changes in:
- Designators like LLC or L.L.C (New Company LLC and New Company L.L.C. are considered the same)
- Differences in punctuation or special characters
- Differences in capitalization
- Spacing between words and/or letters
- Differences in articles, prepositions, or conjunctions including “a”, “an”, “by”, “for”, “in”, “plus”, “the”, “to”, and “with.”
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. If you find that your desired name is unavailable, try using a unique spelling, changing the word order, using a synonym for one of the key words, or making one of the words plural/singular. These alterations will establish distinguishability without changing the name entirely. The Department of Commerce has a helpful FAQ page if you need more information.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Alaska, you can proceed to reserve it or use it on your Articles of Organization.
Reserving an Alaska business name costs $25 and holds your name for 120 days. However, if you’re ready to start your business, just use the available name on your Articles of Organization and it will be registered with the state.
Need Help Starting an LLC?
Like we mentioned earlier, an LLC formation service can take care of all the paperwork for you. Using a formation service guarantees that your filings will be completed and submitted correctly. It also eliminates the stress of doing it yourself and gives you more time to develop your business plan, network, or just relax.