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 California. 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?
The state of California gives you the option to reserve your LLC name, but does not require it. If your name is distinguishable from other California business entities and follows other naming regulations, you can register it when you file your Articles of Organization.
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 California LLC registration.
You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $10 fee. Overall, it’s cheaper to skip this fee and simply start your business, which will lock in your name.
However, there are cases where you may not be ready to officially start your business. 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 your business name is unique, including unusual spellings or characters and/or family names, it may not be necessary to reserve a California business name ahead of time. Plus, paying the extra state fee to reserve your business name could be a waste of resources if you’re planning to launch your business soon after.
How Long Does a California Business Name Reservation Last?
Anyone planning to do business within the state of California can 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. But you’ll need to be strategic about when to place your reservation.
An entity name registration in the state of California only lasts 60 days from the date of filing. After that, you’re allowed to renew it in the future, but not consecutively. So, in order to ensure that your reservation doesn’t go to waste, it’s best to form your LLC within that 60-day window.
This reservation may hold your business name, but remember that it does not officially register it or launch your business by filing your Articles of Organization. Lucky for you, we have a guide for that too. Check it out here.
How do I Reserve a Business Name in California?
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. Some states offer an online business database where you can search for name availability, but in California, you can only check by mail. The Secretary of State website offers a “Business Search” function, but they don’t consider it an official inquiry. The Secretary of State’s office doesn’t accept emailed or online name inquiries, so you’ll need to send a “Name Availability Inquiry Letter” to:
Secretary of State, Name Availability Unit
1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the state of California (find them all here). 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.
Like the name availability request, reservation requests cannot be filed online. To lock down your unique business name, you must mail a “Name Reservation Request,” along with a self-addressed envelope, to the address listed above. You’re allowed to include three names on the form (a first, second, and third choice), but only one reservation will be placed, depending on which names are available.
Like most government forms, the Name Reservation Request comes with a fee. Fortunately, it’s only $10. Include a check, payable to the Secretary of State, with your form.
One more helpful tidbit: keep in mind that a name reservation doesn’t guarantee that your LLC name’s compliance with California’s naming regulations. So, to avoid running into trouble when you launch your business, review those naming guidelines!
Wrapping up and Choosing the Best Route
Your LLC name is an important part of the business. If you’re not ready to launch your business, but you’ve got a perfect name and you think someone else might claim it, consider reserving it.
However if your business is ready for takeoff, use our comprehensive guide to forming an LLC in California to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $10 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $70 California LLC formation fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $10 isn’t a fortune by any means, but this will at least save you the hassle of reserving a name and registering an LLC separately.
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.