Considering how near Maryland is to the capital, it’s a no brainer that this state is one of the best places to start a business. One of the first things to do when it comes to starting your own Maryland business is to decide on a business name.
But remember, you can’t just pick and use any name you want. There are a few important Maryland LLC naming guidelines you need to follow as well as the fact that your business name must be unique and distinguishable from other businesses registered in the state.
The best way to check if your desired business name is available and not used by another business entity is by running a Maryland business name search. Our article today will talk about how you can do so as well as a few other important points to consider when forming your Maryland LLC.
Maryland Naming Guidelines
As mentioned earlier, the first thing to do before registering your Maryland business entity is to first decide on a business name that meets the guidelines set out by the state. Some naming requirements that maryland LLC businesses need to follow include the following:
- 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 the LLC with a government agency such as the FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.
- Restricted words like Bank, Attorney, and University may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a licensed engineer, doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
Using Comma in LLC Name
Maryland business entities are allowed to register their business name with or without a comma as both are acceptable by the state. For example, if you want to name your Maryland LLC “Dragon Tractors”, you can file your Maryland business entity as any of the following:
- Dragon Tractors LLC
- Dragon Tractors, LLC
Maryland LLC Name Must Be Distinguishable
Another important point is that your Maryland business name must be distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of State, which means that you cannot use the same business name as another company registered in Maryland. One way for you to check and confirm if your desired LLC is available is by running a Maryland LLC name search.
Maryland LLC Name Search
Business owners can make use of Maryland Business Entity Search to check if their desired limited liability company name is available before submitting the LLC formation application. It’s recommended to do a thorough check on your business name’s availability before filling to prevent your application from getting rejected.
The Maryland Business Entity Search gives the public the opportunity to check all the business entities registered with the state through the Maryland.gov Business Express Site. Maryland corporations and LLCs are searchable on the site with the following:
- Business Name
- Department ID
- Maryland Business name search
The ‘Business Name’ search query is the most commonly used search methods, especially for business owners looking to check if their desired business name is available. To get a result of all business entities related with the name, you’ll need to follow the steps below:
- Enter the business name into the search bar.
- Click on “Search”
The Maryland database will generate and produce a list of all related business names registered in Maryland. When doing the search, you do not need to key in any phrases like LLC, Corp or other naming designations as the site will generate results for every type of entity.
Every Maryland business entity is associated with a specific filling number that you can use to search through the database to get company details.
Maryland Business Entity Search Status
Considering the fact that Maryland is a prime location near the capital and filled with plenty of resources, it’s no surprise to find thousands of businesses open in the state. This means that it might get pretty tricky to come up with a unique business name that’s distinguishable from other entities registered with the state.
You don’t necessarily need to stick with coming up with a whole new name by yourself. You can also search through Maryland’s Business Entity database and look for limited liability company names that are already expired.
For example, if you’re planning to open up a bakery firm, you just need to enter the word “Bakery” into the search bar on the website and the database will generate a list of company entities with the word “Bakery” in their name.
From there, you can look through the list and see if there’s any expired name that’s suitable for your Maryland business. Even if you do find one that’s available, it is better to give the Secretary of State a call to confirm on the name’s availability to avoid having your application rejected.
Just because your desired LLC name appears to be available after performing the business entity search doesn’t necessarily mean you can use it for your limited liability company – the business name could have a trademark associated with it.
Hence, it is recommended for business owners to perform a trademark search through the Trademark Electronic Search System before filling their application. This is a simple additional step that can help business owners avoid costly litigation.
The trademark search should be performed for your business name, slogan, and logos through both Maryland Trademark Search and US Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to ensure you’re not infringing on any federally trademarked intellectual property rights.
However, just because a name has been trademarked doesn’t mean you’re not able to use the company name. You just need to know who is using the name, the industry they’re in, and where they’re located.
Reserve Business Entity Name
After deciding on a suitable business name in Maryland and you have checked that it’s available, you can reserve your desired name with the Maryland’s Business Express for 30 days. You must file your name reservation application either email or by phone.
Write to email@example.com
– OR –
File by Phone
Filling Fee: $25
Additional $20 for expedited services (optional)
Other Considerations and What To Do Next?
After reserving your desired business name, you can proceed to check on other important factors before officially registering yor LLC. Some important considerations include running a social media and domain name check to ensure you get full, unrestricted use of your desired business name across different platforms.
Check Domain Name Availability
Plenty of businesses understand the importance of maintaining a strong online presence, especially int his era of digitalization. This also means that more and more companies are creating websites for their customers to search them online.
However, with more and more names being taken up, it’ll be increasingly difficult for new business owners to come up with a suitable domain name for their company. While .com domain extension is most common online, there are other domain extensions like .co, .net, and .io that you can consider as well.
Other than that using another domain extension, you’ll also need to be creative in coming up with a website name that’s not already taken up by someone else while still making it easy for customers to find you online. There are a few tools you can use to help check domain name availability, like Namechkr and GoDaddy that will even offer you alternatives to consider should your desired name is taken.
Check Social Media Name Availability
After running a Maryland Business name search for your domain, the next thing to do before filing your LLC is to run a social media name check. Having a company website is not the only thing you need to do to maintain a good online presence.
Almost everyone is on social media now, which makes it all the more important for businesses to also have a social media page where they can engage with existing and potential customers directly.
Here are a few tips business owners can keep in mind to help them with their business entity’s social media page:
- Your social media page should be active, even if you believe that your business is small. Social media is an incredibly important tool that can help businesses connect with their customers, attract more customers, and increase awareness among the community. You should check if your desired social media handle is available on different platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. By using the same name and handle, you can make it easier for your customers to find you across different platforms.
- You can either run a simple search for your desired business name on each major site to check if they’re still available or you can use a name checked tool like Namechkr that is designed to search through all the platforms at the same time. If you do find your desired company name is available, we recommend for you to quickly register an account with that name even if you don’t plan on setting up your page now. This will prevent someone else using the name before you want to.
Register Your Maryland Business Entity
After confirming that your designed LLC name is available in Maryland and there’s no trademark associated with it, you can finally proceed to register your business entity with the state. Business owners have the choice of filling their own LLC online or hire companies to do it for them. If you choose to file an LLC online, you need to be prepared for the paperwork involved. It could get pretty tedious, which is why many businesses decide to hire companies like ZenBusiness, Incfile, and Northwest Registered Agent to help them out with all the filing.
Register Company Tax ID/EIN with the IRS
Everyone has a social security number, similarly, every business entity will have a unique tax ID for tax purposes. Business owners need to register the six digit EIN with the IRS and fortunately, the entire process is pretty straightforward and can be done by yourself online.
Designing a Company Logo
Company logos are important for a business entity. A properly designed logo grabs attention, makes a strong first impression, creates a foundation for your brand identity, separates you from the competition, and even fosters brand loyalty.
Knowing that a logo can accurately reflect your business values and deliver the right impression to your customers, it’s clear how important it is to create a memorable logo for your company. Obviously, not everyone will have the artistic skills or creativity to come up with their own design.
Luckily, this is where sites like Fiverr come in handy as they allow business owners the opportunity to get in touch with freelancers and get a logo done within 24 hours.
Write a Business Plan
Yes, a business plan is pretty important for companies as it is an official document that details out business plans and future goals. This can be an even more important document for businesses seeking for investors.
The business plan will help companies organize ideas and even create a sense of accountability. Not only that, but companies that form partnerships with others are highly encouraged to have their operating agreement professionally written to clear any doubts and prevent ambiguity.
Open a Business Bank Account
Last but not least on things to consider, you need to open up a business bank account for business transactions. While it’s entirely possible for you to use your personal bank account – something that many smaller companies do – this practice is not encouraged.
It’s always better to split personal and business finances. By doing so, you can even build business credibility with the banks which will become handy when applying for business loans in the future.
The first step when forming an LLC is to choose a suitable business name that not only reflects company values, but also meets Maryland’s naming requirements and is distinct from other businesses registered in the state.
Other than that, there are also other important factors to consider usch as the domain name and social media availability as well as trademark registration. After completing business name registration, business owners can proceed to come up with a logo, business plan, and opening a bank account.
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.