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 Wisconsin. 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.
Quick Note: If you’ve already found the ideal business name and would like to secure it quickly by starting the LLC, online LLC services can do it for you. No need to navigate confusing state-website portals or file anything yourself.
Are You Required to Reserve a Business Name?
While some states require name reservation as a mandatory part of the LLC formation process, Wisconsin does not. You may reserve a name if you’d like, but you’re not obligated to do so, and you can go straight to the Articles of Organization if you’re ready to launch your business.
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 Wisconsin LLC registration.
You have the option to reserve your LLC name, but it’ll cost you a $15 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin Business Name Reservation Last?
Anyone planning to do business within the state of Wisconsin 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 registration in the state of Wisconsin prevents anyone else from using that name for 120 days. When this window closes, you may renew your reservation for another 120 days. Still, to avoid paying multiple fees, it’s best to form your LLC during your first reservation.
Say you want someone else to have ownership of your reserved name. Just submit a written and signed notice of transfer to the Department of Financial Institutions. This notice should include the name and address of the transferee.
How do I Reserve a Business Name in Wisconsin?
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 using the Corporate Records Search on the Department of Financial Institutions’ website. Don’t forget that you also need to comply with other business entity name restrictions from the state of Wisconsin (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.
Your first step will be to download the “Name Reservation Application.” Fill out your desired name, business type, name, address, and phone number. You must also include a check for $15, made out to “Department of Financial Institutions.” When you’ve finished, mail your form and payment to:
Department of Financial Institutions
P O Box 7846
Madison, WI 53707-7846
An important note: The $15 fee is non-refundable, so if your name isn’t available, you won’t get your money back. For this reason, it’s important to conduct an informal name availability search prior to filing your form.
Standard processing time for the Department of Financial Institutions is five business days. But if you need your name reserved right away, check the expedited service box at the top of the application and include an additional $25 payment. Expedited forms are processed within 24 hours.
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 Wisconsin to get started instead. This way, rather than paying an additional $15 for the name reservation application, you’ll only pay the one-time $170 ($130 online) Wisconsin Articles of Organization fee to claim your name and form the LLC at the same time. $15 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.