Why is it important to do a Florida business name search?
Having a good, memorable Florida business name is integral to any business and its branding as it sets the tone for your business and it reflects your business strategy to your clients and investors.
To achieve this, it is important that you select a one-of-a-kind business name that will set you apart from other businesses. You can make sure your name is unique by running a Florida business name search.
Running a business name search ensures that your chosen business name is not already taken, so that you can register the name and establish your business in Florida. Our article today on Florida LLC name search will guide you on how you can do this yourself.
Florida LLC Naming Requirements
Before running a search, you need to first come up with business names that comply with Florida’s naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients. The following are Florida LLC naming guidelines that you need to follow:
- Your company name must include the phrase “limited liability company”, or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your company name cannot include words that would confuse your LLC with a government agency, such as FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.
- Restricted words like Bank, Attorney, and University may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or a lawyer, to be part of your Florida LLC.
Searching the Florida Business Entities Name Database
The Florida Secretary of State Division of Corporations maintains a database of business licenses registered in the state of Florida. This database maintains a list of active and expired business licenses that the public can search for free.
The Corporations database can be navigated via the following business entity search options:
The easiest and most popular search method for Corporations and LLCs is with an entity name. Here are the steps you need to take to perform the search:
- Fill in the name of the desired business name
- Click on “Search Now”
The website will then be populated for each entity name with their Corporate Name, Document Number, and Status.
When running a name search on the database, you don’t need to enter LLC, Corp, or any other entity type into the search field. However, you need to keep in mind that the database will not generate results for Sole Proprietorships or Partnerships.
Here are the steps you need to take to perform the search with a document number:
- Fill in the name of the Florida Document Number
- Click on “Search Now”
The website will then be populated with the entity type with the document number selected.
Officer/ Registered Agents
Here are the steps you need to take to perform the search by an officer or registered agent:
- Click on Registered Agent on the search by section.
- Search by “Last Name, First Name, Middle Initial” when looking up an individual’s name – the system also accepts partial names.
Navigate with the “previous and next” icons to view additional names in the list.
Trademark/Trademark Owner Name
You can also run a trademark search through the SunBiz site and involves the following steps:
- Select the Trademark Name Search tool
- Enter the business name and select “Search Now”
The database also allows you to search for businesses by their FEI/EIN with the following steps:
- Select FEI/EIN search tool.
- Enter the desired tax identification number and select “Search Now”.
Street address or ZIP code
Another method to search through the Florida Division of Corporations database is by business address and zip code with the following stes:
- Enter the desired business address or zip code.
- Select “Search Now”.
Name Status Search
If you’re struggling to come up with a good business name, you can gain inspiration by going through the search results to see if there are any expired names you can adopt for your business.
For example, if you want to start a shop selling noodles, you could enter “Noodles” into the search bar and the database will generate a list of previously registered names to give you some inspiration. Or, you can also take over the business name if its status is expired or inactive.
The business entity status description will give new business owners ideas of potential names based on how they are classified:
Active – business in good standing with the state and the name is not available.
Inact – If the name has been dissolved for longer than five years, the name may be available depending if the business entity has filed for reinstatement or not. The ebay way to verify if the business name is available is to contact the Division of Corporation directly at 850-245-6000
Cross RF – This stands for cross-reference, which indicates that the company uses an alternative name in the State of Florida than other states since the preferred name is not available.
Another thing to remember when registering your business name is to do a trademark search. This is because, even though the business name is available, it could have a registered trademark which stops you from using it.
Running a quick trademark search through the Trademark Electronic Search System before choosing your business name can help prevent future headaches and potential lawsuits.
Reserve Your Florida Business Entity Name
The Florida Department of State can help you reserve your business name for 120 days. This can come in handy if you have not fully decided on a name yet. You can have the desired business name reserved while you perform other searches and checks.
Unfortunately, the Department of State does not provide a form for LLC name reservation. You’ll need to submit a letter to the state indicating your desired name and contact information. The reservation fee is $25 and you’ll need to mail your letter to:
Department of State
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6327
Tallahassee, FL 32314
What To Do Next
Now that you’ve run a search through the Florida LLC name and trademark database and have found that your preferred business name is available, you need to take a few more steps after registering your business name.
Check Domain Name availability
Many .com domain names with six or fewer letters are already taken, so you may need to get creative when thinking of a website name. You can use websites like Namechk or GoDaddy to help you search for available domain names and suggest alternatives in case the domain you desire is not available.
While .com is the most familiar domain extension used, it’s not the only one. There are also other extensions like .co, .net, and .io that are slowly becoming more popular as the internet ages. You can consider using those extensions if your Florida business name is taken with a .com domain extension.
Check Social Media Name
We’re currently living in a digital age where everything is on social media, which is why it is essential for your business to establish a social media presence. These days, customers will always check review pages on Yelp and Google Review to gauge what others think about the business before they head there.
Here are a few tips on maintaining a Florida business entity social media:
- Maintain a strong social media presence even if your business is small. This is an excellent way to boost organic presence on the web, impress potential customers, and build awareness among the community.
- Social media handles are often hoarded. So you should make sure to check that your preferred handle is not being used across different sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
- If the handle is available, you should quickly lock the username in place so that someone else will not take it.
- You can use social platforms like SocialPilot to seamlessly help you manage multiple social media platforms.
Register Your Florida Business Entity
Next, you’ll need to register your business entity. Fortunately, you can file your business license online with the Florida division of Corporations. However, if you prefer to save yourself the headache of paperwork, you can also appoint companies like ZenBusiness, Incfile, and Northwest Registered Agent to help you take care of the fillings.
Register Company Tax ID/EIN with the IRS
Every business entity will have a nine-digit number called the EIN that’s used for tax purposes. This is sort of like a social security number for businesses. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to fill your EIN for a limited liability company and can be done online.
Create a Company Logo
The next step is to come up with a great logo that will set you apart from your competition as well as to create a positive visual memory of your unique business services for customers. A great logo is just as important as a good business name. Fortunately, you can easily get a logo done on Fiverr within 24 hours or less.
Write a Business Plan
Putting down your business plan on paper will help organize business owners’ ideas and set a pathway for the business to follow. Having your business plan professionally written can also impress investors and create accountability.
Liveplan.com is a reliable business plan software that can help you make business plan writing a simple process with over 500 sample plans to choose from. Businesses that form partnerships should consider having their operating agreement professionally written.
Open a Business Account with the Bank
You need a business bank account to separate business and personal finances. Having a business bank account can also help you build business credibility in the event you need to take on loans for your business in the future.
Businesses must have a business mailing address when opening a business bank account. PO box is not allowed as a primary mailing address.
Setup an Email Account
Since most communications are online now, you will also need to setup a business email account. You can set up your @yourcompany email address with Google Workspace for as little as $6 per month.
Finally, you’ll need to trademark your company to prevent another business from claiming your name and logo. One of the easiest ways to register a trademark is through LegalZoom. They have options where business entities can choose to file by themselves or you can have an attorney take care of the filings for you for an additional fee.
Coming up with your business name is one of the most important first steps for creating an LLC. Once you’ve found your preferred name, you can run it through Florida’s Business Entity Search to check if the name is available.
Next, you’ll also want to secure your domain name so that your customers can easily find your business online. Now that your business name is secured, you are ready to take the next steps to formalize your LLC.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are non-distinguishable business entity names?
There are a few names that Florida does not consider to be distinguishable entity names. Below are a few examples:
- Tallahassee BBQ Enterprises, Inc and Tallahassee BBQ Enterprises, LLC are not considered to be different entity names.
- Florida State does not consider fuffixes such as “A” and “The” before a business name as different entities.
- Singular, plural, and possessive names are not different. For example: Tallahassee Diner and Tallahassee’s Diners are considered the same entity.
- Abbreviations of a root word are not considered different.
What is a Florida DBA?
A Florida DBA (doing business as), or trade name, is a fictitious business name that companies can operate under for business scopes outside of the formal LLC name. Filing for DBA will give offer you the following benefits:
- Expansion – DNA enables businesses to expand past their original business without needing to establish a whole new business entity. All they need to do is to create a new DBA and operate under the existing LLC.
- Privacy – One of the best benefits of operating under a fictitious business name is that owners’ names will not be revealed publicly.
Do I need a registered agent to file my LLC?
Florida Statutes state that a Corporation must continuously maintain a registered agent and office for documentation and legal purposes.
One of the main benefits of engaging a third-party registered agent service company to file your LLC is that it adds a layer of privacy between the business and general population. The registered agent will receive all documents on the business’ behalf and mail them to you privately.
Starting a business correctly doesn’t have to be difficult. With over 15 years of experience consulting new businesses and start ups, Matthew is probably the best person to help you set a strong foundation for your business.