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, and 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, and a lot of names to check. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to go about it: performing an LLC name search.
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.
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, plugged in your desired name, 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, either form your LLC or reserve the name for future use.
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 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 is. 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?
As 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.
We invite you to take a look at our complete guide to all of the top options, but we’ll also quickly run down three of the most popular companies right here.
- ZenBusiness ($49) – ZenBusiness offers a well-rounded LLC formation package at a great low rate. Their standard LLC package includes a year of annual report service. ZenBusiness also receives stellar customer feedback, plus it’s a public benefit corporation that gives back to the communities it serves.
- Northwest Registered Agent ($39) – Northwest offers a bit more of a premium service and we think it’s worth it. Northwest includes a year of its industry-best registered agent service with the purchase of any LLC formation package. They also offer the best customer support in this industry, with knowledgeable representatives who are familiar with the details of business formation processes in every state.
- LegalZoom ($79) – For most people, LegalZoom is the first name that comes to mind for LLC services. With millions of clients, it’s easy to see why. LegalZoom’s pricing and features may not compete on an equal playing field with ZenBusiness and Northwest, but its brand power is second to none, it receives solid customer reviews, and it has a strong money-back guarantee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which words are restricted from usage for LLC names in Arkansas?
The state of Arkansas provides guidance regarding restricted words in business names, in the form of this helpful Name Availability Guidelines document. In short, you need prior permission to use any words relating to banking, engineering, medicine, dentistry, or insurance. You also need advance authorization from the University of Arkansas to use the word “Razorback.”
Is it necessary to reserve my business name before forming my Arkansas LLC?
No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Arkansas and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.
How many small businesses are there in Arkansas today?
The state of Arkansas is home to around 250,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Arkansas is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in Arkansas?
The Arkansas district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration is a great place to start. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is also an excellent resource, while tech-savvy entrepreneurs can likely find plenty of valuable information from the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.
What Is the Total Expected Cost of Operating an LLC in Arkansas?
The overall costs of operating an Arkansas LLC can vary considerably based on the specifics of your business. However, we created a helpful guide to help you identify and plan for every expense your LLC will face in this state.
Should I Use an LLC Service, Hire an Attorney, or Form My Own LLC?
The answer to this question lies in your personal preferences, but we can give some general pointers. An attorney will cost the most by a mile, but also provides expertise you won’t find with the other options. The DIY route is free of charge but can require quite a bit of legwork and provides no peace of mind that the process is being completed correctly.
Using an LLC service means your business will be formed by professionals who know what they’re doing, while also costing significantly less than a lawyer. This “best of both worlds” attribute is what makes LLC services our preferred option.