When planning to start a Nebraska 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 Nebraska, 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 Nebraska 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 Organization and started your Nebraska 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 account number, 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 Nebraska 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 Nebraska LLC Name Search
If you’re ready to search for a business name, you should use an online business search function, right? Not necessarily. There are different methods for different types of search.
Unlike many states, Nebraska doesn’t provide name availability through an online search. Sure, you can see if there are existing businesses with a similar name, but the state requires that all availability requests be submitted in writing. You have three options for submission:
- Postal Mail: Secretary of State’s Office, Business Services Division, PO Box 94608, Lincoln, NE 68509
- Email: email@example.com
- Fax: (402) 471-3666
When the Secretary of State’s office receives your request, they will check their database and respond to let you know if your desired name is available.
When searching for a specific existing business, use the Secretary of State’s online Corporate and Business Search. Simply enter the business’ full or partial name, a keyword, or an approximation of the name, then click “Perform Search.” The screen will likely populate with a list of results. Click “Details” next to any business to access the following information:
- Account Number
- Principal Office Address
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Office Address
- Nature of Business
- Entity Type (LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Qualifying State
- Date Filed
- Filing History
If you need to contact another business, deliver service of process, find registered agent information, check your own business status, and much more, the Corporate and Business Search page can do it all.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you sent in your name availability inquiry, you waited to hear back, and when your response came, there it was, staring back at you: your precious name, already in use. What now?
If your LLC is domestic (formed in Nebraska), 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.
There’s another step involved, however, for foreign LLCs. If your business is expanding to Nebraska from somewhere else, that means it’s already been operating under an established name in other states. But if that name is unavailable in Nebraska, you will need to designate an “alternate name,” one that you will only use for in-state business activities. When you foreign qualify your LLC, you can declare an alternate name on your Application for Certificate of Authority.
How to Make a Nebraska LLC Name Distinguishable
Of course, don’t forget that Nebraska, like other states, has specific rules for its business names. To adhere to these rules, your actual or alternate LLC name must:
- Use one of the following terms – “limited liability company,” “limited company,” “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” “L.C.,” or “LC”
- Be distinguishable and not “deceptively similar” to any other entity names on file with the Secretary of State
But here’s the big question: how do you make a name distinguishable? The Secretary of State doesn’t provide specific instructions, but generally, changes to the following elements are NOT enough:
- Business type indicators like LLC or Ltd. (New Company LLC and New Company Ltd. are considered the same)
- The articles “a,” “an,” or “the.”
- The words “and,” and “or”
- Singular vs. plural nouns
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. If you need to make your name unique but don’t want to get rid of it completely, try rearranging the words, finding synonyms, adding prefixes or suffixes, using different 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 Nebraska, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Certificate of Organization.
Want to protect your business name? You can reserve it for 120 days by submitting an Application for Reservation and paying $15. If you’re ready to start your business right away, though, you’re better off skipping the reservation and using the name on your Certificate of Organization, which 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.