If you're doing business in Indiana under a fictitious or doing business as name, state law has some conditions for you to meet, as well as a set of registration requirements for corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships. The Secretary of State's office clears new names and handles business registrations, while also providing name search services for new business owners.
A business registering a fictitious name must keep it clearly distinguished from other businesses with the same name, and of the same type. Starting a restaurant named McDonald's, for example, probably won't fly in Indiana, but a McDonald's buggy-whip manufacturing company might get the all-clear. The Indiana Secretary of State provides a handy name-availability function on its website. Search results include the name and location of the business, business type, and the current status of name registration, if any. You also can access the name of the registered agent, of company directors, and information on how to obtain a corporate report. These results are not legally binding -- an official name search will be done during the registration process.
Registering Your Name
Once you've checked name availability, and decided you need to protect it from copycats, it's time to register the name. Filing an application online will run $10 for a name reservation. This reservation lasts for 120 days, while you finalize business plans and get other needed paperwork in to the state. A fictitious name reservation in advance of business registration is not required --you can file founding documents on the same day as you check the name availability.
If you're from out of state and establishing a subsidiary or sister company in Indiana, then you've got a foreign corporation. The same rules on names apply, and the state allows the 120-day name reservation if you're not native.
Indiana does not require business registration for sole proprietorships, but businesses of all sizes and types must adhere to the rules on fictitious names. In addition, the state requires regular business entity reports on the founding anniversary to keep public records updated. Failing to keep these records current could mean personal liability for business owners for debts and legal claims.