The first thing every business owner needs to do when opening up a new business is to choose a suitable name for the company. However, you can’t just choose any name you want, the business name you use must be distinguishable from other businesses as well as comply with Iowa Naming Guidelines.
Our article today will discuss naming requirements in Iowa and how to perform an Iowa LLC name search to check trade name availability.
Why Is Performing an Iowa LLC Name Search Important?
An Iowa LLC name search can be performed by business owners to check all registered business entities in the state to see if their desired business name is still available or if it has already been taken up by another entity.
Running an Iowa LLC name search before you file your LLC formation application is a good idea as it will significantly reduce the chances of your application getting rejected.
Iowa Naming Guidelines
As mentioned in the section above, business owners need to choose a name that meets the naming guidelines set by the state of Iowa. Here are a few important requirements to comply with when choosing an Iowa LLC name:
- Company name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.)
- Company name cannot include words that would confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc)
- Restricted words such as Bank, Attorney, and University may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual such as a doctor or a lawyer to be part of your LLC.
Using Comma in LLC Name
Iowa state allows business entities to register their business name with or without a comma.This mean that if you’re planning to name your Iowa LLC “Jasmine Beverages”, you can file your Iowa business entity with either following names:
Jasmine Beverages LLC
Jasmine Beverages, LLC
Both are accepted by the state.
Iowa LLC Name Must Be Distinguishable
Another important point when coming up with an Iowa business name is that you need to make sure that the name is distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of State. This means that you can’t have the same business name as another entity registered in Iowa. One way to check if your desired business name is available is by running an Iowa LLC name search.
Iowa LLC Name Search
The Iowa Secretary of State maintains records of business entities registered in Iowa and the database is available for the public to use. Business owners can easily make use of the Iowa Business Name Search function to check the availability of their desired business name before submitting the application. The Iowa Corporations and LLCs are searchable with the following criteria:
- Business Name
- Entity ID
- Filing Number
The Business Name search option is the most often used method when the public conducts an Iowa business entity search online. The site navigation is very easy and all is required is to input the desired business name into the search bar and click on “Search” for the site to present you with a list of business names related to the one you’ve entered.
It is also not necessary to include phrases like LLC, Corp, or other naming designations as the website will extract the names for every type of entity (except sole proprietorships or partnerships) available in its database. To perform a business name search, simply follow the steps below:
- Enter the name of the desired business name in the search bar.
- Click on “Search.”
Iowa website also offers additional filter options that allow the public to search by Active vs Inactive businesses.
Every Iowa corporation/entity will be assigned with an associated ID number which the public can also search for by entering the Business ID in the search bar and clicking on the “Search” button.
Similar to how an entity has a business ID, each corporation will also have an associated filing number that’s unique to the business. You can key in the filing number in the search bar to search for the related business on the site.
Iowa Business Name Status Search
Iowa is a well-populated state with a booming industry. Hence, it is completely understandable if you find yourself struggling to think of a good business name that’s distinguishable from other entities. One useful trick to generate ideas or inspiration is to search through the Iowa Business Entity Database or look for expired names that you can adopt for your business.
For example, if you want to open up a boutique, just type the name “Boutique” into the search field and the Iowa site will generate a list of business entities with the name “Boutique” in it along with its status. From here, you can browse through all the business entity names available and even find an expired name that might just be perfect for your business.
However, if you do find a suitable name, it’s recommended that you give the Department of State’s office a call to confirm the name’s availability before filing your LLC.
So you’ve searched through the Iowa business entity database and found that your desired name hasn’t been registered yet. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s available. The name might have a trademark associated so you should run a trademark search before submitting the application. This simple step will only take a few minutes of your time but can protect you from costly litigation in the future.
On the other hand, just because another entity has trademarked your desired Iowa business name doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot use that name at all. It’s important for you to have a look at who is using the name, what industry they’re in, and where they’re located so that you do not inadvertently infringe on their intellectual property rights.
Here are a few steps involved in performing a trademark search:
- Search state trademark records with the Iowa Business Entity Search organized by entity type to see if your desired business name, slogan, and others are being used by another entity in your state.
- Search the US Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to check if your desired business name, slogan, and others is associated with any federally registered trademarks.
Reserving Iowa Business Entity Name
After you’ve completed the business name search and trademark search and can determine that the entity name is indeed available, the next thing you can do is to reserve that name before someone else takes it.
Iowa’s Secretary of State Business Services Division handles all LLC naming questions and requests including name reservation. You can then submit a name reservation form to them to have your desired name reserved for 120 days.
You can file your name reservation either online or by mail. Each option comes with its own advantages. Although online submission will incur a higher fee, your application will be expedited and have special priority. Alternatively, you can file a paper application by mail instead. Cheques for filing fees must be made out to the “Secretary of State”
Secretary of State
Business Services Division Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Other Considerations – What To Do Next
After reserving your desired business name, here are a few more considerations to look into before officially registering your LLC under that name:
Check Domain Name Availability
Many businesses acknowledge the importance of an online presence for their business, which is why more and more of them are setting up company websites. In fact, almost everyone expects a company to have their own website where they can visit online.
However, the popularity of creating websites als means that domain names with six or fewer letters are mostly taken up by others and you’ll need to rely on your creativity to come up with a unique website name that customers can easily find online.
You can rely on sites like Namechkr or GoDaddy to help you check for available domain names. These sites are also very helpful in suggesting alternative names in case your desired name is not available.
While the .com domain extension is most commonly used, it’s not the only extension available. There are also other extensions like .co, .net and .io that are slowly gaining traction among the community as more and more .com domain extensions are taken up. So this is another thing to consider when deciding on a domain name for your website.
Check Social Media Name Availability
In addition to having a company website, businesses should also maintain a social media page for their business. Social media allows businesses to connect with their customers where they can leave reviews and check on any latest updates. This is why it’s important for you to maintain a good image on social media.
Here are a few tips to maintain a good Iowa business entity social media:
- You should keep and maintain a strong social media presence even if you think that your business is small. Businesses with a strong social media presence can help boost organic traffic online, attract potential customers and even build awareness among your community.
- A social media account will first need a unique social media handle for customers to search for you online. When choosing a handle, it is recommended that you check if your desired name is available across different sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, so that you can use the same handle for multiple platforms. If you do find that your desired social media handle is still available, it might be best for you to quickly register an account so that others won’t take it before you do.
- You can either check your desired social media name on each major site one by one or you can use Namechkr tool to run the search across all platforms at once.
Register Your Iowa Business Entity
After checking the Iowa business entity database, trademark, domain, and social media handle, you can finally proceed to register your business entity with the state. The process of filing your own LLC is extremely tedious and if performed on your own for the first time, there’s a high chance that you’ll get overwhelmed by the paperwork involved.
This is why many businesses hire companies like ZenBusiness, Incfile, and Northwest Registered Agent to help them take care of the filing procedure while they focus on more important tasks.
Register Company Tax ID/EIN with the IRS
After registering your business entity, businesses will need to register their company tax ID with the IRS for tax purposes. The company tax ID is also known as EIN and consists of a unique nine-digit number. The process of registration is quite straightforward and can be performed online on your own.
Open a Business Bank Account
Once you’re done with the IRS registration, the next step is to head to the bank to open up an account. While you may know of smaller businesses using their personal bank account for business transactions, it is highly encouraged for you to split personal and business finances to avoid any suspicions.
Not only that, but maintaining a business bank account can also help your business build credibility with the banks which can become helpful when applying for business loans in the future.
Setup an Email Account
Most businesses rely on an email account for communication purposes. Not only that, but social media platforms will also require an email address to register an account with them.
This is why it is important for businesses to set up a business email account. You can easily get a
@yourcompany email address for as low as $6 per month with Google Workspace.
One of the first steps that business owners need to handle before creating an LLC is to come up with a suitable business name. Once the preferred name has been decided, it is important that you run it through Iowa’s Business Entity Search and conduct a trademark search to confirm the name’s availability.
Next, you might also want to check and secure your domain and social media name for unrestricted use online. Now that your business name is secured, you are ready to take the next steps to formalize your LLC.
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.