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, 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 Nebraska, 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 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 searches.
Unlike many states, Nebraska doesn’t provide official 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. Of course, you can still save a ton of time and energy by checking Nebraska’s online Corporate & Business Search before submitting your official availability request. You have three options for submission:
- Postal Mail: Secretary of State’s Office, Business Services Division, P.O. Box 94608, Lincoln, NE 68509
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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, just like you would to get preliminary availability results. 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 the members or managers of 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, 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 either form your LLC or reserve the name for future use.
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 is. 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?
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 Nebraska?
Nebraska 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 Nebraska LLC?
No. In fact, Alabama is the only state that requires entrepreneurs to reserve a business name before forming an LLC. In Nebraska and the other 48 states, this is an optional and largely unnecessary step.
How many small businesses are there in Nebraska today?
The state of Nebraska is home to more than 150,000 small businesses. Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and business types find that Nebraska is a great place to own and operate a small business.
What are the top small business resources and websites in Nebraska?
The Nebraska chapter of the Small Business Development Center is a great place to start, as they offer a wide variety of tools and resources for Nebraska LLCs. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Nebraska 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 Nebraska?
The overall costs of operating a Nebraska 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.