When planning to start a Connecticut 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 Connecticut, 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 Connecticut 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 Certificate of Organization and started your Connecticut 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 Business ID, which you may need 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 Connecticut 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 Connecticut LLC Name Search
There’s a number of reasons you might want to search a business name, but only one way to do it: through the “Connecticut Business Registry Search.”
For name availability checks, all you need to do is enter your exact desired name in the “Search by Name” bar and see if anything comes up. If there’s another business already using your name, it’s back to the drawing board. But if not, you’re good to go! Feel free to reserve that name or use it on your Certificate of Organization.
To search for a specific business (or your own existing one) enter its full name or a keyword in the “Search by Name” bar. You can also search by a business ID or Filing Number. Entering a partial name or keyword will likely yield a lot of results while entering an exact name or ID may only return one. Regardless, you can click on any business to access the following information:
- Business Name
- Business ID
- Business Address
- Mailing Address
- Registration Date
- Annual Report Due Date
- State of Formation
- Last Report Filed Year
- Business Type (LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Business Status (active, dissolved, etc.)
- Principal Name and Title
- Principal Address
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Agent 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 Registry 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 Connecticut), 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, go ahead and reserve it.
Although, if your LLC is from out of state, there’s a different procedure. A foreign LLCs already has a name that has been registered in another state, but if that name isn’t available, it will need to declare an “alternate name,” or a name that it will operate under only in Connecticut. If necessary, you can designate an alternate name on your “Foreign Registration Statement” when you foreign qualify your LLC.
How to Make an Connecticut LLC Name Distinguishable
Every business name, whether actual or alternate, reserved or registered, must comply with Connecticut’s business naming requirements. This means your LLC name must:
- Contain the words “limited liability company” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC”
- Not use terms that will mislead the public as to the business function
- Be available and distinguishable from every other business name registered or reserved with the Connecticut Secretary of State
What, exactly, does it mean for a business name to be distinguishable? While state law doesn’t provide a lot of specific detail, we do know that small changes in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spacing, and business type signifiers (LLC, L.L.C., etc.) do NOT distinguish a name.
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. If your name is unavailable, try one of these strategies to make it distinguishable:
- Rearrange the words
- Use a unique spelling
- Use abbreviations or acronyms
- Add or remove a word
- Find and use a synonym
This way, you can come up with a unique name without changing it entirely. With a little brainstorming, you find yourself a creative and available LLC name.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Connecticut, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Certificate of Organization.
If you’d like, you can reserve your business name for $60. This reservation will give you exclusive rights to that name for 120 days. Instead of placing a name reservation, you can use the name on your Certificate of Organization, which will automatically register it.
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.