Why Is Performing a Pennsylvania LLC Name Search Important?
Before you form a limited liability company (LLC) in Pennsylvania, you need to first come up with a desired business name and run it through a business name search to ensure it’s still available for use.
A Pennsylvania business name search will help you check all registered business entities in the state. Like other states, the state of Pennsylvania requires each LLC or corporation registered to have a unique business name that’s distinguishable from other companies. This is why it is important for you to run a Pennsylvania business entity search to verify if the name is available before registering your LLC or corporation.
Pennsylvania Naming Guidelines
The first thing before you can run a business name search is to come up with a business name. Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. However, you need to make sure that you choose a name that complies with Pennsylvania naming requirements. Here are a few guidelines for choosing a company 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.
Run a Pennsylvania Business Name Search
You can use the Pennsylvania Business Search function to check the availability of your desired company name before filing for a name reservation request. Pennsylvania Corporations and LLCs are searchable with the following criteria:
- Business Entity
- Business ID
Search by Entity Name
The “Name” search option is the most commonly used method when running a Pennsylvania business entity search online. All you need to do is to type in your desired business name and click on “Search” and the engine will present you with a list of results with any names related to the one you’ve entered in the search bar.
You don’t need to include phrases like LLC, Corp or other naming designations as the database will extract the names for every type of entity.
Search by Entity ID
Every Pennsylvania corporation has an associated filing number that is unique to the business. You can also enter the ID number to search for the business on the site.
Information found on Pennsylvania Business Entity Database
The database search will present you with several important information about the businesses including:
- Pennsylvania Business Name
- Entity type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Status – Active status means that the entity is in good standing with the state, and all reports and filing fees are up to date. Inactive results means that the name may be available for registration.
- Citizenship – Domestic means the business is initially formed in the state. Foreign means an out-of-state entity that’s doing business in the state of Pennsylvania.
- Entity Creation Date – Date the entity was first filed with the Department of State.
- Effective Date – The date the entity first became active.
- Address – This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
- A copy of the Certificate of Organization and other documents can be purchased.
Pennsylvania Business Name Status Search
If you find yourself struggling to come up with a good business name that is also unique, you can search through the results list to gain some inspiration or even check if there are any expired names you can use for your business.
For example, if you want to open up a Pizza shop, just type in the name “Pizza” into the search field and the site will generate a list of relevant names along with its status.
In the event where you do see an expired name that you’re interested in, you can give the Pennsylvania Department of State’s office a call to confirm the name’s availability before registering.
It is important for you to do a trademark search of your Pennsylvania business name and associated slogans or logos before registering. Taking a few minutes of your time to do a trademark search will help prevent costly litigation in the future.
However, just because you found out that another entity has trademarked your Pennsylvania business name, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot use it anymore. It is important that you check who is using the name, what industry they’re in, and where they’re located so that you do not inadvertently infringe on anyone’s intellectual property rights.
Here are a few steps you can take to do a trademark search:
- Search state trademark records with the Pennsylvania Business Entity Search organized by entity type to see if your desired business name or associated slogans, logos, and others are being used by another business in your state.
- Search the US Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to find any federally registered trademarks associated with your desired business name..
Reserving Pennsylvania Business Entity Name
If you’ve done your Business entity search and found that your desired business entity name is available, the next thing you can do is to reserve that name to prevent others from taking it before you officially file your business.
The Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations is responsible for handling all LLC naming questions and requests. You can file an application online or by mail to reserve a business name for 120 days.
In the event that you’ve yet to form your Pennsylvania business entity with the reserved name before it expires, you have the option to renew the name reservation again.
You will need to pay a filing fee of $70 when reserving your business name. Checks need to be made out to the “Department of State”.
Other Considerations – What To Do Next
Now that you’ve searched through the Pennsylvania LLC name and trademark database and have found that your desired business name is available, here are a few more steps that you can take after registering your business name.
Check Domain Name Availability
With the rise of the internet, there are plenty of .com domain names with six or fewer letters that are already taken up by others, so you will need to rely on your creativity and innovation to come up with a unique website name that can distinguish your business from others.
To search for available domain names, you can use websites like Namechk or GoDaddy. These sites are helpful and can even offer alternatives in case your desired domain name is not available.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that .com domain extension is not the only extension available. There are also other extensions like .co, .net and .io that are getting more and more popular for you to use in case your desired domain is already taken with the .com domain extension.
Check Social Media Name Availability
As mentioned earlier, we are in a digital age now and it’s just as important for you to establish a good social media presence on top of having a website. Many customers now love to do a search on Yelp and Google Review to see if it’s worth their time and effort to visit your business by checking what others are saying about you. This is why it is very important for you to maintain a good presence and image on your social media.
Here are a few tips to maintain a good Pennsylvania business entity social media:
- You need to take the effort to make sure your business has a strong social media presence even if it’s a small business. Having a strong social media presence can help you boost organic presence on the web, impress and attract potential customers, and also build better awareness in your community.
- Before you set up your social media, you need to come up with a social media name – one that is unique. You may also want to check if your desired social media handle is being used by others across different sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, this is especially true if you plan on being on multiple platforms. If the desired name is still available, it’s recommended for you to quickly register an account so that others won’t take the handle before you do.
- To check if your desired social media is available, just run a quick search of your business name on each major site. Alternatively, you can use Namechekr tool that will help you run the search across all platforms at once.
Register Your Pennsylvania Business Entity
The next thing you might want to do is to register your business entity. You can certainly file your business license online but many LLC prefer to avoid the hassle and paperwork by hiring companies like ZenBusiness, Incfile, and Northwest Registered Agent to take care of all the necessary fillings.
Register Company Tax ID/EIN with the IRS
Once your business entity is registered, you need to register your company tax ID with the IRS. Each company will have a unique nine-digit tax ID called the EIN that needs to be registered with the IRS for tax purposes. The process of registration is pretty straightforward and can be done online.
Create a Company Logo
After registering your company and submitting your EIN to the IRS, you can now look into creating a unique company logo that will give your customers a positive visual memory and help communicate your business values to your customers. A unique logo is very important and you can easily get one done on Fiverr.
Write a Business Plan
A proper business plan will do wonders in helping you organize ideas and set a pathway for your business to follow. You can impress investors and create accountability with a professionally written business plan. It is also recommended for partnerships to have their operating agreement professionally written to avoid any potential misunderstanding or ambiguity. A
Open a Business Bank Account
Yes, you can use your own personal bank account for business transactions but this is not recommended. It is better if you open up a separate business bank account to separate business and personal finances.
Additionally, a business bank account can help you build business credibility which will come in handy when applying for business loans in the future. One thing to keep in mind about opening a business bank account is that you need a business mailing address that’s not just a PO box.
Setup an Email Account
Most communications may be conducted online, whether on social media or email. Even setting up social media accounts will require you to have a valid email address. This is why it is important for you to set up a business email account. You can get a @yourcompany email address set up for as low as $6 per month with Google Workspace.
Choosing a suitable business name is one of the most important first steps for creating an LLC. Once you’ve decided on your preferred name, you can run it through Pennsylvania’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 is a trade name?
A trade name is the official name under which a proprietor or company chooses to do business. Trade name is also known as DBA (doing business as).
Is it necessary to have a domain name?
No, it is not necessary to have a business domain name but it is a recommended practice so that your customers can find you easily through online means.
What is my desired name is not available?
For domestic LLC, you can refile your business license under another name. For foreign LLC, you must come up with a “fictitious name” or DBA name, which you’ll only use in the state.
How to reserve a business name in Pennsylvania?
You can reserve your desired business name in Pennsylvania through the Department of State. The process includes filling up a Pennsylvania name reservation form and paying a $70 filing fee.
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.