When planning to start an Arkansas 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 Arkansas, 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 Arkansas 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 and started your Arkansas 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 filing number, which you may need for certain forms and applications.
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 Arkansas 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 Secretary of State already has on file. A name search will take care of this for you.
How to Perform an Arkansas LLC Name Search
Whether you need to check a name’s availability or you’re looking for a particular piece of business information, you can use the Secretary of State’s Business Entity Search. From the Business & Commercial Services homepage, just click “Business Entity Search,” and you’re there!
To find out if your desired name is already in use, simply enter it in the “Name” section and hit search. Make sure to leave the “Corporation Type” dropdown box on “All Types.” If your search returns no results, your name is available for registration or reservation. But if any businesses come up, it’s back to the drawing board to decide on a new name.
However, if you’re searching for a particular business and you know its name (or part of it) enter it in the “Name” search bar. Let’s say you don’t know the exact name. That’s okay! You can also search by registered agent information or filing number.
Unless you’ve entered an exact business name, your search will likely yield multiple results. Click on any one of them to find basic business details like:
- Entity name
- Fictitious name (if applicable)
- Filing number
- Entity type
- Status (good standing, revoked, etc.)
- Principal address
- Registered agent name
- Registered agent address
- Date of formation
- Officer names
- Foreign name and address (if applicable)
- State of origin (if applicable)
You won’t need all this information if you’re simply checking name availability, but at some point in the life of your business, it will be necessary, and you’ll know right where to find it.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the Business Entity 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 Arkansas), 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 a foreign LLC, the process is a little different. You already have a specific name you’ve been using to conduct business in other states. But if that name is unavailable in Arkansas, you will need to come up with a “fictitious name,” one that you will use only in Arkansas. Section 1b of the Application for Certificate of Registration provides a space to include your fictitious name, and it will be registered when you submit the form to foreign qualify in the state.
How to Make an Arkansas LLC Name Distinguishable
Fictitious or not, your LLC name must adhere to Arkansas’ naming requirements. To avoid having your name rejected by the Secretary of State, make sure that it:
- Uses a a term that indicates its entity type, like “Limited Liability Company,” or “LLC.”
- Does not use the words “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” or any abbreviations thereof
- Is available and distinguishable from all other business names registered or reserved with the Secretary of State
But how do you make a name distinguishable? While Arkansas state law doesn’t provide many specifics, in general, a name is NOT considered distinguishable because of:
- Designators like LLC or L.L.C (New Company LLC and New Company L.L.C. are considered the same)
- Articles like “a,” “an,” or “the.”
- The words “and,” and “or”
- Changes to capitalization
- Changes to punctuation
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. If your name isn’t available, but you don’t want to come up with something completely different, try rearranging the words, using abbreviations or acronyms, changing the spelling, or coming up with synonyms. This way, you can keep a similar name that the state still considers distinguishable.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Arkansas, you can proceed to reserve it or use it on your Articles of Organization.
Reserving an Arkansas business name costs $25 by mail or $22.50 online and it gives you sole ownership 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.