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, 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 Connecticut, 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 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 a Connecticut LLC Name Search
There are a number of reasons you might want to search for a business name, but only one way to do it: through the “Connecticut Business Records 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, or none at all. 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 Records 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 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 either form your LLC or reserve the name for future use.
Although, if your LLC is from out of state, there’s a different procedure. A foreign LLC 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 a 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 abbreviations “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 is. 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?
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 our top three picks right here.
- ZenBusiness ($39) – ZenBusiness offers a well-rounded LLC formation package at a great low rate. Their standard LLC package includes a full year of registered agent service and a customizable operating agreement. 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. Like ZenBusiness and IncFile, Northwest also 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.
- IncFile (FREE) – That’s not a typo! IncFile really does form LLCs for free. Even better, they include 12 months of registered agent service in their free package. IncFile has a ton of experience and more than 500,000 satisfied customers, so they’re always a reliable choice. With tens of thousands of positive reviews, IncFile has an unrivaled customer feedback reputation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which words are restricted from usage for LLC names in Connecticut?
You are not allowed to use any words that refer to the banking industry, including bank, banking, banker, bankers, trust, or savings. You also cannot use the name of any municipality unless your business is located within that municipality. For more information, take a look at Chapter 620 of the General Statutes of Connecticut.
Is it necessary to reserve my business name before forming my Connecticut LLC?
No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Connecticut and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.
How many small businesses are there in Connecticut today?
The state of Connecticut is home to nearly 350,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Connecticut is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in Connecticut?
The Connecticut chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for Connecticut LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Connecticut District Office is another valuable resource, and the state’s small business resource page also has plenty of good info.
What Is the Total Expected Cost of Operating an LLC in Connecticut?
The overall costs of operating a Connecticut 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.