Why Is It Important To Perform a Texas LLC Name Search?
Before starting a business, you need to come up with a name that’s not already being used by another business. Texas has unique rules requiring you to use a unique name when setting up a new business.
Fortunately, the state has loosened their strict naming rules back in 2018. Nonetheless, business owners still need to make sure that their desired business name is distinguishable from other businesses in Texas.
Texas LLC Naming Guidelines
Before conducting a search, you need to first come up with a business name. Texas has a few naming guidelines that you need to comply with when choosing a company name:
Identifies Business as a Limited Liability Company
Your business name must include a word that indicates the type of business entity it is, in this case it should be a limited liability corporation. Hence, your business name must:
- include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.)
- not include words that could 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 LLC.
Your company’s name must be distinguishable from another company with at least one key word in the name to be different. Below are a few examples of company names that are not considered distinguishable in Texas:
- Adding different articles or conjunctions (e.g. Fun Zone and The Fun Zone)
- Using different business designation (e.g. Fun Zone, LLC and Fun Zone, Inc)
- Changing spelling but not the meaning (e.g. Pizza Express and Pizza Xpress)
- Adding punctuation, spaces, or capitalization without changing the meaning (e.g. The Fat Cow and The FAT Cow or Fun Zone and Fun Zone!)
Here are a few examples that would make your business name distinguishable:
- Switching the order of names (e.g. Pie Pizza and Pizza Pie)
- Using a different form of word (e.g. Pie Products and Pie Producers)
- Using the same words in different languages (e.g. The Fat Cow and La Vaca Gorda)
- Using words that sound the same but with different meaning (The Prickly Pair and the Prickly Pear)
Texas State allows special characters to be used in business names, including:
- Arabic numerals
- Roman letters
- “ ! ‘ ? = + – $ % # * @ [ ] / () &
While the state permits special characters, there are also certain words that cannot be used in your business name unless with the approval from a designated entity, The prohibited words include:
- Lottery or lotto
- Words that imply business is part of the state or federal government
- Grossly offensive words
- Words that imply the business engages in illegal activity
Here are the words that require approval:
- Veteran, disabled, foreign, Spanish, legon, war, world war, and other words that imply the business helps veterans or their families must be approved by an appropriate veteran’s organization.
- Bank, trust, and other similar words require written authorization by the Texas Banking Commissioner.
- University, college, school, health science center, and law center require written authorization from the Texas Education Coordinating Board
- Olympic, olympiad, and citius altius fortius require written authorization from the US Olympic Committee
Words relating to professions that require licensing, such as engineers, architects, and surveyors are also restricted. For example, you will need to get a licensed engineer to be associated with the business in order to use the word “engineer” in your business name.
How to do a Texas LLC Name Search The Right Way?
One way to ensure your Texas LLC name is unique and available is to run a business name availability check. There are three ways for business owners to check if their desired name is available in Texas:
You can call the State Business Information Line at 512-463-5555 and say “Hi, I am forming an LLC and I’d like to check to see if my name is available.” When calling, we recommend coming up with 1 to 2 alternative business names in case your desired LLC name is already taken up. This will save you from having to make multiple phone calls to the State.
A tip to help you avoid long hold times, it’s best for you to call right when they open at 8am. Their phone call operation hours are on Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 5pm Central Time.
An important note to keep in mind is that even if the person on the phone tells you that your desired Texas LLC name is available and that it’s likely it’ll be approved, it isn’t 100% guaranteed.
The Final Texas LLC name is confirmed once the state receives your Certificate of Formation (unless you’ve filed for a name reservation). Having said that, in the unfortunate event where your Certificate of Formation is rejected as the name has been taken up, the State will send you a letter or email letting you know to refile with a different LLC name.
A faster alternative to making phone calls is to drop the Texas Secretary of State an email and ask them to look up a few LLC names. Fortunately, The Texas Secretary of State tends to reply to emails relatively quickly.
This final method may not be as reliable as calling and emailing the State, but it may still be helpful. All you need to do is to run a search one existing businesses in texas on the Taxable Entity Search page of the Comptroller’s website or through the Secretary of State’s SOS Direct site. The taxable entity search is free of charge, but the SOS Direct will charge $1 per search.
Other Considerations – What To Do Next
Now that you’ve done a Texas LLC Name Search, looked into the trademark database and have found that your desired business name is available, you need to take a few more steps after registering your business name.
Reserve Your Texas LLC Name
You can have your business name reserved for 120 days with the Texas’s Secretary of State Corporations Section. You may also renew the name reservation for another 30 days if you’ve yet to form your business entity with the reserved name.
You can reserve your business name online or by mail. When reserving your name, you need to pay a filing fee with a check made out to the Secretary of State.
Check Domain Name availability
There are many .com domain names with six or fewer letters that are already taken, so you will need to rely on your creativity to come up with a unique website name. You can also go to websites like Namechk or GoDaddy to help you search for available domain names and offer alternatives in case the domain you want is not available.
While .com is the most familiar domain extension used, it’s not the only extension available. There are also other extensions such as .co, .net, and .io that are slowly gaining popularity as more and more domain names are being taken up. You can consider adopting those extensions if your Texas business name is already taken with a .com domain extension.
Check Social Media Name Availability
Everything is digital now, which is why it is also important for your business to establish a social media presence for potential customers to search on. Many customers will always do a quick check for review on Yelp and Google Review to have a sense of what others think about the business before heading there.
Hence, it is critical for you to maintain a good presence and image on your social media as this could make or break your business.
Here are a few tips on how you can maintain a good Texas business entity social media:
- Maintain a strong social media presence even if your business is small. Strong social media presence can help you boost organic presence on the web, impress customers, and also build better awareness among the community.
- Check that your desired social media handle is not being used across different sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. If it’s still available, it’s better for you to quickly register an account so that others won’t take the handle before you do.
- You can quickly do a simple search of your business name on each major site or can use a tool like Namecheckr that will run the search across all platforms at once. You can look into using social platforms like SocialPilot to seamlessly help you manage multiple social media platforms.
Register Your Texas Business Entity
Next, you’ll need to register your business entity. While you can file your business license online, many businesses prefer to save themselves from the hassle and paperwork by appointing companies like ZenBusiness, Incfile, and Northwest Registered Agent to help them take care of all the necessary fillings.
Register Company Tax ID/EIN with the IRS
Next is to register your company tax ID with the IRS. The tax ID is a nine-digit EIN that acts like a social security number for businesses. Registering with the IRS is a simple process that can be done online.
Create a Company Logo
Now that you’ve registered your company, you should look into creating a unique company logo that effectively delivers your company’s vision and mission as well as to create a positive visual memory of your unique business services for your customers.
A unique and great logo is just as important as a business name. Luckily for you, you can easily get a logo done in under 24 hours by engaging a freelance designer on Fiverr.
Write a Business Plan
Establishing a proper business plan can help you organize ideas and set a pathway for your business to follow. A professionally written business plan can also help you impress investors and create accountability.
If you need assistance to write a reliable business plan, you can consider Liveplan.com as the website offers more than 500 sample plans for you to refer from. Businesses that form partnerships should consider having their operating agreement professionally written.
Open a Business Bank Account
While you can use your own personal bank account for business transactions, this is not recommended. It’s critical that you separate business and personal finances to avoid future headaches and complications.
Having a business bank can also help you build business credibility that will make it easier for you when applying for business loans in the future. One thing to note when opening a business bank is that your company must have a business mailing address that’s not a PO box.
Setup an Email Account
In this age, most communications will be conducted online. So it’s important for you to also set up a business email account. Fortunately, Google Workspace can help you set up your
@yourcompany email address for as little as $6 per month.
Conducting a trademark search of your business name and associated slogans or logos before registering can help you prevent lawsuits and expensive litigation in the future. However, just because another entity has trademarked your business name does not mean you cannot use it anymore.
It is important for you to know who is using the name, what industry they are operating in, and where they are located so that you do not inadvertently infringe upon their intellectual property rights.
You can do a trademark search by:
- Creating an account on the Texas Secretary of State website and running a search to see if your business name, associated slogans, logos, or others are in use by another business in your state.
- Search through the US Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to find any federally registered trademarks associated with your business name.
Coming up with your business name is one of the most important first steps for creating an LLC. Once you’ve found your desired name, you can run it through Texas’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.
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.