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, 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 Mississippi, and a lot of names to check. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to go about it: performing an LLC name search.
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 for 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 results; 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
- Member or Manager Name(s)
- Member or Manager 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, 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 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 either form your LLC or reserve the name for future use.
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 abbreviations “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 is. 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 Mississippi 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.
✔ Get The Best LLC Service
If you want to use a service to form your LLC, there are dozens of options. We invite you to check out our full list of the best available LLC formation services, but we’ll also share a couple of the most popular options below.
ZenBusiness (Starts at $0 + State Fee)
ZenBusiness is the best LLC formation service available. That said, ZenBusiness receives outstanding customer feedback, with more than 9,800 reviews available online and very few negative reviews among them.
LegalZoom (Starts at $79 + State Fee)
For most people, LegalZoom is the first name that comes to mind for LLC services due to their massive advertising budget. LegalZoom’s pricing and features may not compete on an equal playing field with ZenBusiness, but its brand power is notable and it receives good customer reviews.
For a side by side comparison, check out our LegalZoom vs ZenBusiness review.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which words are restricted from usage for LLC names in Mississippi?
The Mississippi State Code doesn’t get into too many specifics about restricted terms, except to say that you can’t use any terms that refer to different business types (like corporation or general partnership), and you also can’t use language that implies a business purpose other than the one you indicated on your formation documents. In addition, you need to avoid words that imply an association with the banking and insurance agencies.
Is it necessary to reserve my business name before forming my Mississippi LLC?
No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Mississippi and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.
How many small businesses are there in Mississippi today?
The state of Mississippi is home to nearly 200,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Mississippi is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in Mississippi?
The Mississippi chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for Mississippi LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Mississippi District Office is another valuable resource, and the Mississippi Development Authority also has plenty of good info.
What Is the Total Expected Cost of Operating an LLC in Mississippi?
The overall costs of operating a Mississippi 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.