When planning to start a Kansas 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 Kansas, 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 Kansas 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 Kansas 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 entity ID number, which is required for certain filings.
3) Resident 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 Kansas resident 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 resident agent or principal address to a member or a resident 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 Kansas LLC Name Search
Whatever your reason for searching a business name, the process begins on the Kansas Business Center website. There are multiple search tools, and which one you use depends on your goal.
For quick name availability checks, there’s a specific name availability search. It’s extremely user-friendly. Just enter your desired name and it will tell you whether or not it’s available. If it is, there’s an option to reserve it right then and there. But if it’s not, the search will provide a list of similar names already on record along with guidelines for name distinguishability (see below).
Searching for an existing business? There are a few different options, all available on the Business Entity Database Search. The most common is to search by entity name, but if you aren’t sure of the name, you can also search by ID number, keyword, resident agent name, or resident agent keyword.
These options are nice because they make it possible to find a business even when you only have a single piece of information. They will present you with a list of all matching businesses on record. Click “View Record” next to any of them to find the following information:
- Full Name
- Mailing Address
- Business Type (LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Date of Formation
- State of Organization
- Current Status
- Resident Agent Name
- Resident Agent Office Address
- Last Annual Report Date
- Next Annual Report Due Date
- Forfeiture Date
On top of all that, an entity’s information page includes options to change the business name, update addresses, order a Certificate of Good Standing, update resident agent information, file an Annual Report, or close the business, all right there. Of course, you won’t need any of this if you’re simply searching for name availability, but it’s extremely helpful when contacting other businesses or checking up on your own.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the Name Availability 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 Kansas), 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.
If your business is from out of state, the process is slightly different. You’ve already been operating under a particular business name in other states, but that name might not be available for use in Kansas. If another business entity is already using your name, you must include one of the following when applying for foreign qualification:
- A letter from the existing company, consenting to your use of the same name.
- A letter stating that you will list your home state on all advertising in the state and as a means of identification.
Either one of these is acceptable and will protect you from potential lawsuits from using a particular name without authorization.
How to Make an Kansas LLC Name Distinguishable
Like other states, Kansas places specific requirements on business names. This means that your LLC name must:
- Use a term that’s indicative of its business type, like “limited liability company,” “limited company,” “L.L.C.,” “L.C.,” “LLC,” or “LC”
- Be distinguishable from every other business entity name on record with the Kansas Secretary of State.
But if your name is unavailable, how do you make it distinguishable? You may be tempted to make one small change to set your name apart, but the following alterations are not enough to distinguish a name on their own:
- Business type indicators like LLC, Ltd., Inc., or LP (New Company LLC, New Company Ltd., New Company Inc., and New Company LP are all considered the same)
- Adding or removing the words: an, and, &, the, to, or with
- Adding or removing symbols, punctuation, and special characters
- Changing capitalization
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. Alternatively, you might try using unique spellings, finding synonyms, spelling out a number instead of using a numeral, changing singular nouns to possessive (and vice versa), rearranging words, using abbreviations or acronyms, or adding/removing words. This way, you will have a distinguishable name without having to come up with something completely new.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Kansas, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Articles of Organization.
Reserving a business name is optional, but a nice option if you aren’t ready to start your business but want to protect your name. A reservation holds your name for 120 days and costs $35. Or, you can simply use that name on your Articles of Organization and it will be automatically registered with the state.
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.