When planning to start a Louisiana 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 Louisiana, 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 IncFile and LegalZoom) can perform a name search and form the business on your behalf.
Reasons to Perform an LLC Name Search
Checking for Louisiana 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 Louisiana 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 Number, which you may need for certain future 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 Louisiana 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 Louisiana LLC Name Search
Ready to search a business name? The Secretary of State website offers a one-size-fits-all search function: the Business Filings Search page. Whether you’re checking a name’s availability or looking for a specific business, you’ll find what you need here.
If you’re just trying to see if your name is available, check “Search by Entity Name” at the top of the page, then enter your desired name in the search bar and click “Search.” If it yields any results, sorry! Your name is already in use. If it doesn’t, the name is available and you’re free to reserve it and use it on your Articles of Organization.
To find a specific business, you can enter their full or partial name in the search bar. But you don’t necessarily have to search by entity name. There are also options to search by Charter Number, Trade Registration Number, Name Reservation Number, Officer Name, or Agent Name. This allows you to find a business even if you don’t know the name. Regardless of how you search, clicking the “details” button next to any of the results will give you access to the following information:
- Full Name
- Business Type (LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- City of Residence
- Previous Names
- Charter Number
- Registration Date
- Domicile Address
- Mailing Address
- Status (Active, Inactive, etc.)
- Inactive Reason (if applicable)
- Last Annual Report Filed Date
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Agent Address
- Officer Names and Titles
- Officer Addresses
That’s quite a bit of useful information, especially if you’re trying to get in touch with another business. You should also check up on your own from time to time, confirming that the most accurate, updated information is on file and that your LLC is in good standing.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the Business Filings 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 Louisiana), 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 businesses, the process is a little different. Your LLC has already been using an established name in other states, but if that particular name is unavailable in Louisiana, you will need to designate a different name to use in the state. You can claim this alternate name when you foreign qualify your business.
How to Make an Louisiana LLC Name Distinguishable
All Louisiana business names, whether actual or alternate, must adhere to the state’s name requirements, so you LLC name must:
- Use the words “limited liability company,” the abbreviation “L.L.C.,” or the abbreviation “L.C.”
- Not contain terms that would be misleading as to the LLC’s purpose
- Not use terms that indicate government affiliation
- Not contain words/phrases that “comprise immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter”
- Not suggest a charitable or non-profit nature
- Not include the word “insurance” or the words “bank”, “banker”, “banking”, “savings”, “safe deposit”, “trust”, “trustee”, “building and loan”, “homestead”, or “credit union” without written approval from the commissioner of the office of financial institutions.
- Be available and distinguishable on the Secretary of State records.
If your desired name is unavailable, you will need to make changes to make it distinguishable. But “distinguishable” is a somewhat nebulous term, so what does it mean? Let’s take a look at what it’s not. The Secretary of State doesn’t give specifics, but typically, making changes to the following things will NOT distinguish your name:
- 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. But if you don’t want to reinvent your entire name, try rearranging the words, adding or removing words, changing verb tenses, using unique spellings, or finding synonyms. These strategies will allow you to keep a similar name while still distinguishing it.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Louisiana, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Articles of Organization.
In Louisiana, you must reserve your LLC name before starting your business. This requires a “Reservation of LLC Name” form and a $25 fee. Once you’ve placed your name reservation, you can use that name on your Articles of Organization when you start your LLC.
Need help getting your LLC off the ground?
An LLC formation service can take care of all the details for you. Using a formation service guarantees that your filings will be completed and submitted correctly. It eliminates the stress of doing it yourself and gives you more time to develop your business plan, network, or just relax. Two popular and reliable services are IncFile and LegalZoom – either one will set your LLC up so you can focus on starting a business.