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, 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 Kansas, 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 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 a Kansas LLC Name Search
Whatever your reason for searching for a business name, the process begins on the Kansas Business Center website. Simply click on the option you want and search for the business info you need. For instance, you can search by name availability, or you can do a full search of the state’s business entity database to find more detailed business info. Either way, your search starts in the same place.
The state 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 the members or managers of other businesses or checking up on your own.
What if My Name Is Unavailable?
So, you went to the Name Availability 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 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 either form your LLC or reserve the name for future use.
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 due to using a particular name without authorization.
How to Make a 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 is. 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?
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 three of the most popular companies right here.
- ZenBusiness ($49) – ZenBusiness offers a well-rounded LLC formation package at a great low rate. Their standard LLC package includes a year of annual report service. 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. Northwest 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.
- LegalZoom ($79) – For most people, LegalZoom is the first name that comes to mind for LLC services. With millions of clients, it’s easy to see why. LegalZoom’s pricing and features may not compete on an equal playing field with ZenBusiness and Northwest, but its brand power is second to none, it receives solid customer reviews, and it has a strong money-back guarantee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which words are restricted from usage for LLC names in Kansas?
Kansas doesn’t have too many restrictions regarding the terms you can use in your business name, but it does have a few. For instance, you can’t use terms that refer to other business entity types, and you need to avoid terms that imply an association with banking, insurance, or government entities as well.
Is it necessary to reserve my business name before forming my Kansas LLC?
No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Kansas and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.
How many small businesses are there in Kansas today?
The state of Kansas is home to nearly 275,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Kansas is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in Kansas?
The Kansas chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for Kansas LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Kansas 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 Kansas?
The overall costs of operating a Kansas 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.