When planning to start a Mississippi 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 Mississippi, 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 Mississippi 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 Formation and started your Mississippi 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 is required 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 Mississippi 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 Mississippi LLC Name Search
No matter what your name-related task is, there’s a one-size-fits-all solution: The Secretary of State’s “Business Search” function.
To check a name’s availability, make sure that the “Business Name” tab is selected, and choose “Starting With” or “Exact Match” for the search criteria. Then, enter your desired business name and click “Search.” See any results? If so, unfortunately, your name is already in use. If not, the name is free and you can proceed to reserve or register it.
If you’re looking for a specific existing business, there are a couple of different ways to do so. The most common is to search a full or partial business name. However, if you don’t know the name, you can also search by business ID, officer name, or registered agent name. Your search will return a list of result; click on any of them to access the following information:
- Legal Name
- Business Type (LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Business ID
- Status (Good Standing, Dissolved, etc.)
- Effective Date
- State of Incorporation
- Principal Office Address
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Agent Address
- Officer Name(s)
- Officer Address(es)
You won’t need this information if you just want to see if your name is available. But if you’re trying to contact a particular business or check the status of your own, it’s extremely helpful.
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 Mississippi), 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 LLCs, the process is a little different. If you run a foreign LLC, you’ve already been using an established name in other states, but what if that name isn’t available in Mississippi? You’ll need to register a separate name that you’ll only use there. Designating this name isn’t difficult, though. When you foreign qualify your LLC through the Secretary of State’s online filing system, you can choose a name there.
How to Make a Mississippi LLC Name Distinguishable
It doesn’t matter if you’re finding a name for your new LLC or foreign qualifying under an alternate name – all Mississippi business names must:
- Contain the words “limited liability company,” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC”
- Not use any of the following: “bank,” “banker,” “bankers,” “banking,” “trust company,” “insurance,” “trust,” “corporation,” “incorporated,” “partnership,” or “limited partnership,”
- Be completely distinguishable from all other names on record with the Mississippi Secretary of State
How do you make a name “distinguishable”? The term is somewhat nebulous, and you may want to find a small change that will distinguish your name without scrapping it completely. However, making alterations to the following elements typically won’t cut it:
- Business type designators like LLC, Ltd., Inc., or LP (New Company LLC, New Company Ltd., New Company Inc., and New Company LP are all considered identical)
- The articles “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. Still, you might not want to do away with your name entirely. To keep a similar yet distinct name, try rearranging the words, adding prefixes or suffixes, finding synonyms, using abbreviations or acronyms, using unique spellings, or adding/removing words.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Mississippi, you can proceed to reserve it or use it on your Certificate of Formation.
A Mississipi name reservation lasts 120 days and costs $25. But it’s really only necessary if you aren’t ready to start your business yet, as using the name on your Certificate of Formation will register it automatically.
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.