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 Pennsylvania. 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?
While some states require name reservation as the first step in the LLC formation process, Pennsylvania does not. You may reserve a name if you’d like, but if you can also go straight to your Certificate of Organization if you’d prefer.
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 Pennsylvania LLC registration.
You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $70 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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Business Name Reservation Last?
Anyone planning to do business within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can reserve an entity name. Filing your name reservation prevents another entity from using that name to conduct business in the state during the time of your hold. An entity name reservation in Pennsylvania gives you a 120-day hold on that name. After this window closes, your name will be open to public use once again, so it’s important to launch your LLC during this time. While you cannot renew your reservation after it expires, the reservation application states that you are allowed to form an association solely to hold your name longer.
If you no longer want your name reservation, or if you’d just like it under someone else’s name, you can transfer it using the same form. This merely changes the owner; it doesn’t renew or extend your hold.
How do I Reserve a Business Name in Pennsylvania?
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 on the Department of State’s Search Business Entity tool. If you find that it’s already being used, time to head back to the drawing board. Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (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.
If you’re worried that your LLC name might get taken, you probably want to get it reserved as soon as possible. Online filing through PENN File is the quickest way to go about it. First, create an account. After you’re signed in, select the appropriate form and follow the instructions to reserve your name.
There’s also a paper form available on the Department of State’s Registration Forms page. Scroll down to Miscellaneous Forms and you’ll see “Reservation of Name/Transfer of Name.” Follow the instructions on page 2-3 to complete it, then mail it to:
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
A name reservation costs $70 whether you’re filing online or by mail. Pay by card online and by check (made out to “Department of State”) by mail.
The Pennsylvania Department of State asks that you allow 7-10 business days for standard processing. However, if you need that name reserved sooner, there are three expedited service options:
- Same-Day: $100
- Three-Hour: $300
- One-Hour: $1,000
To request one of these options, submit an “Expedited Service Request” with your form.
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 Pennsylvania to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $70 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $125 Pennsylvania LLC formation fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $70 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 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
While LegalZoom is by far the most well-known LLC formation service and has decent overall value, we highly recommend looking into IncFile or Northwest Registered Agent. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to, and these two are reliable, professional, and efficient.
We compiled our meticulous research into thorough comparison guides for you to use. Take a look if you’re considering a professional LLC service. It’s well worth your time.