Your company name is important. It’s your first impression, and it’s how people will remember you.
You don’t want to be the business with a forgettable name. So, when you’ve got that perfect name in mind, that clever alliteration or meaningful acronym, you might think about reserving it before someone else does.
Naming your company is one of the first official steps when starting an LLC in North Carolina. In certain situations, it may be necessary to reserve a business name while you’re preparing to bring your business idea to life.
In this article, we’ll explain when reserving a business name is necessary and guide you through all the steps involved.
Are You Required to Reserve a Business Name?
No. Reserving a business name is not mandatory for LLC formation in North Carolina. It can be helpful if you’re worried that your name might get taken, but if you’re ready to launch your business, you can jump right into your Articles of Organization.
Should You Reserve Your LLC Name?
Maybe it took you sleepless nights of brainstorming, or maybe you thought of it while sitting at a traffic light. No matter how you came up with your memorable LLC name, you’ll want to make sure that it’s available and ready to use when you file your North Carolina LLC registration.
You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $30 fee. Overall, it’s cheaper to skip this fee and simply start your business, which will lock in your name.
However, there are cases where you may not be ready to officially start your business. Filing an application to reserve your business name gives you “dibs” and ensures that competitors aren’t able to snag it while you’re preparing for launch.
If your business name is unique, including unusual spellings or characters and/or family names, it may not be necessary to reserve a North Carolina business name ahead of time. Plus, paying the extra state fee to reserve your business name could be a waste of resources if you’re planning to launch your business soon after.
How Long Does a North Carolina Business Name Reservation Last?
Anyone planning to do business within the state of North Carolina can reserve an entity name. Filing your name registration prevents another entity from using that name to conduct business in the state during the time of your hold. An entity name reservation in the state of North Carolina puts a hold on your desired name for a period of 120 days. But once your time is up, you’re not allowed to renew your reservation, so be strategic about when you file. If you do it too far in advance and you’re not ready to form your LLC, you risk losing the name.
Want to pass your name along to someone else? Just file a “Notice of Transfer of Reserved Entity Name” and pay a $10 fee.
How do I Reserve a Business Name in North Carolina?
Got a name in mind? Perfect. Follow these steps to reserve it.
Before submitting your application to reserve your business name, you first need to check name availability. Search your desired name here on the Secretary of State website to see if it’s already registered or reserved. Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the state of North Carolina (find them all here). All good? Then check to see if your LLC name is available. If it is, let out a sigh of relief—you’re ready to reserve it.
The only thing you need to lock down that LLC name is an “Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name,” which you can download from the Secretary of State Forms page. It only asks for three pieces of information. Ready?
- The name you want to reserve
- Your name
- Your address
Also, the Secretary of State recommends that you complete and include a “Cover Sheet for Corporate Filings” for more streamlined processing. Download it here.
Boom, you’re done. Include your payment for the $30 filing fee and send it off to:
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, North Carolina 27626-0622
Or, take advantage of the PDF Upload Portal to submit it online, which is the quicker option.
You can pay the $30 name reservation fee with a check or money order made out to “North Carolina Secretary of State.” If you can’t wait the 7-10 days for processing (or 3-5 for online submissions), you can request 24-hour processing for $100 or same day processing for $200. Make this request on your Cover Sheet.
Wrapping up and Choosing the Best Route
Your LLC name is an important part of the business. If you’re not ready to launch your business, but you’ve got a perfect name and you think someone else might claim it, consider reserving it.
However if your business is ready for takeoff, use our comprehensive guide to forming an LLC in North Carolina to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $30 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $125 North Carolina LLC formation fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $30 isn’t a fortune by any means, but this will at least save you the hassle of reserving a name and registering an LLC separately.
Save Time by Using a Professional LLC Service
As a business owner, you have a lot to think about. Pile on the responsibility of handling state correspondence, tax information, and more while keeping your LLC compliant, and you’ve got yourself a pretty full plate. Sometimes the best move is to let someone else take care of the paperwork for you. This way, you can sleep easy knowing you’ll never miss a deadline or compliance requirement with the state of Wyoming.
While LegalZoom is by far the most well-known LLC formation service and has decent overall value, we highly recommend looking into ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to, and these two are reliable, professional, and efficient.