When planning to start an Idaho 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 Idaho, 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 Idaho 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 Idaho LLC, you can periodically check its status by searching for your existing name. This will confirm your business’ good standing with the state and your Annual Report due date, so you can stay on top of your state-mandated 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 Idaho 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 Idaho LLC Name Search
The Secretary of State’s Business Search tool is extremely easy to use and helpful whether you’re looking for a particular company or just checking a name’s availability.
There’s only one search bar, but it allows you to enter a full business name, keyword, or file number. If you just want to see if a name is available, enter it, click the magnifying glass icon, and see if anything comes up. If it shows a business already using your name, you’ll need to come up with something different. But if the search yields no results, feel free to reserve your name or use it on the Certificate of Organization.
Looking for a specific business? Enter its full or partial name into the search bar and find it in the results. Clicking any business name will provide the following information:
- Filing Type (LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Status (Active, Dissolved, etc.)
- State of Formation
- Principal Address
- Mailing Address
- Filing Date
- Annual Report Due Date
- Registered Agent Name and Address
This information comes in handy for sending service of process to other companies or confirming your good standing, contact information, and due dates.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the business 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 Idaho), 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.
For foreign entities, the process is a little trickier. Your business has already been operating under a particular name in other states, but what if that name isn’t available in Idaho? You’ll need to adopt an “alternate name,” one you will only use in the state. When you foreign qualify, there will be a designated space for your alternate name on the Foreign Registration Statement.
How to Make an Idaho LLC Name Distinguishable
Keep in mind that Idaho, like other states, has a specific set of business name requirements that you need to follow for both actual and alternate names. According to Idaho State Code Section 30-21-302, your LLC name must:
- Contain the words “limited liability company,” or “limited company,” or one of the abbreviations: L.L.C., LLC, L.C., or LC.
- Be distinguishable and available from all other business names reserved or registered in the Idaho Secretary of State records.
In the case that your name is unavailable, you’ll need to make it distinguishable. But how? The Idaho state code gives little direction on the topic, but we know from other state laws that the following changes are typically not enough (by themselves) to make a name unique:
- 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”
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. You probably want to keep a similar name while changing it enough for the state to consider it unique. Try rearranging the words, using synonyms, adding or removing words, finding unique spellings, or adding suffixes/prefixes. This will distinguish your name without changing it entirely.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Idaho, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Certificate of Organization.
Reserving an Idaho business name costs $20 online and it holds your name for four months. Once you’ve placed your name reservation, you can use that name on your Certificate of Organization when you start your LLC.
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.