When planning to start a Nevada 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 Nevada, 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 Nevada 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 Nevada 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 may be necessary for 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 Nevada 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 Nevada LLC Name Search
When it comes time to search for a business name, head over to the Nevada Business Search page, which you can use whether you’re checking name availability or looking for a specific business.
Got a name you want to lock down? Find out if it’s already in use by choosing “Entity Name” from the dropdown box and then entering the desired name in the search bar. When you click the search button, results may appear, which means that your name is unfortunately unavailable. But you might get a message that there are no matches, which means that the name is free and you can reserve it or use it on your Articles of Organization.
When searching for a specific business, you’ll use the same webpage but you have a few more options. The most common way to do it is by choosing “Entity Name” from the dropdown box and entering the full or partial name. However, if you’re unsure about the name, you can also search by entity number, business ID, officer name, registered agent name, or associated business name. Regardless of how you search, you will probably receive a list of results. Click any of them to access the following information:
- Business Status (Active, Dissolved, etc.)
- Business Type (LLC, Corporation, etc.)
- Qualifying State
- Managed by Members or Managers
- NV Business ID
- File Date
- Entity Number
- List of Officers Due Date
- Expiration Date
- Business License Expiration Date
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Agent Address
- Officer(s) Name and Address
This information isn’t necessary if you’re simply searching for name availability, but it’s very helpful if you’re looking to contact another business or check up on your own.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the Nevada 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 Nevada), 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.
Foreign LLCs have a slightly different process. If you run a foreign LLC, you’ve already been operating under an established name in other states. But if that name is unavailable, you’ll need to designate a separate name to transact business in Nevada. When you’re foreign qualifying your business, enter this separate name in section 2 of your Application for Resignation.
How to Make a Nevada LLC Name Distinguishable
Remember that every business name registered or reserved in Nevada is subject to the state’s business name requirements. Revised Statute 86.171 says that your LLC name must:
- Use the words “Limited-Liability Company,” “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” or “Limited” or the abbreviations “Ltd.,” “L.L.C.,” “L.C.,” “LLC” or “LC.”
- Follow the rules outlined by the state’s Restricted Words List
- Be distinguishable from all other registered or reserved business names on file with the Secretary of State
But the big question is: what, specifically, does “distinguishable” mean? The state doesn’t provide specific instructions on how to distinguish your name, but typically, making changes to the following elements isn’t enough:
- 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 the same)
- The articles “a,” “an,” or “the.”
- Conjunctions like “and,” and “or”
- Singular vs. Plural Nouns
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. In the event that your name is unavailable, though, you’ll likely want to find small changes to distinguish it so that you don’t need to scrap it entirely. Try adding or removing words, finding unique spellings, substituting synonyms, adding prefixes or suffixes, or rearranging keywords. These alterations will allow you to keep a similar name while making it distinguishable.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Nevada, you can proceed to reserve it or use it on your Articles of Organization.
Reserving your LLC name gives you exclusive rights to its use for 90 days. Simply file a Name Reservation Request and pay a $25 fee, and if the name is available, it’s yours. Alternatively, if you’re ready to start your business, you can use that name on your Articles 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.