When planning to start a Utah 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 Utah, 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 Utah 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 Utah 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 you might need 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 Utah 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 Department of Commerce already has on file. A name search will take care of this for you.
How to Perform a Utah LLC Name Search
Ready to search a business name? The Division of Corporations and Commercial Code website offers a one-size-fits-all solution for name availability and existing business searches.
You may have come up with a perfect business name, but before you use it on your Certificate of Organization, make sure someone else didn’t beat you to it. On the Business Search page, select the “Business Name” tab, enter your proposed name, and click the search button. See any results? If so, your name is unavailable, so it’s back to the drawing board. But if no results appear, congratulations! You’re free to reserve or register that name.
Alternatively, you may be searching for an existing business. In this case, not only can you search by the company’s full or partial name, but also its entity number or an executive’s name. This is helpful if you only have one piece of information about the business. Any search method will likely result in a list of results. Click any of them to find the following information:
- Full Name
- Entity Number
- Company Type
- State of Origin
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Agent Address
- Business Status
- Business Renewal Due Date
- Filing History
- NAICS Code and Title
- “Doing Business As” Name (if applicable)
This information is available to the public for every business registered with the state of Utah, including your own. You can use it to contact other companies or confirm that your LLC’s information is current and accurate.
What If My Name Is Unavailable?
So you went to the 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 Utah), 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.
For foreign LLCs, however, the process is a little different. If your business is coming to Utah from out of state, it’s already been operating under an established name in other states, but what if that name isn’t available in Utah? When you foreign qualify the business, include an alternate name in section five of the Foreign Registration Statement. This will give you a different name under which you can conduct business activities in the state.
How to Make a Utah LLC Name Distinguishable
Like other states, Utah has certain business name guidelines and you must adhere to them when choosing an LLC name. State law requires your name to:
- Include “limited company,” “limited liability company,” “L.C.,” or “L.L.C.”
- Not use the terms “association,” “corporation,” “incorporated,” “limited,” “limited partnership,” “L.P.” or “Ltd.”
- Not use any of the the state’s “restricted words.” Find a list of them here.
- Be distinguishable from all business entity names currently registered or reserved with the Department of Commerce
But what, exactly, determines if a name is distinguishable? According to Utah Code Section 16-10a-401, changes to the following do NOT distinguish a name:
- Designators like LLC, Inc., Ltd., or LP
- The articles “a,” “an,” “the.”
- Conjunctions like “and,” “but,” and “or”
- Special Characters (@, #, $, %, etc.)
- Singular vs. plural forms of the same word
Essentially, to create a fully distinguishable name, you must change the name itself, not just the syntax. If your name is unavailable, you can distinguish it without scrapping it entirely by changing one or more of the key words, rearranging the key words, using different spellings, or finding synonyms.
What you do next depends entirely on what your goal. If you’re checking for name availability and your name is free in Utah, you can proceed to reserve it and use it on your Certificate of Organization.
After you’ve settled on a name that’s both available and distinguishable, you might want to claim it while you prepare to start your business. Reserving a Utah business name costs $22 and places a 120-day on your name. If you’re ready to launch your LLC right away, though, you’re better off simply using the name on your Certificate of Organization, as this will automatically register it.
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.