Checking the availability of a company name appears as part of the process of registering a business. However, sole proprietors and partnerships have no obligation to register a business name, unless the owner opts to use a fictitious business name. Many states require new businesses to have a distinct business name, that appears unlike any other registered business entity in the state. A business name availability search may be conducted online, or in person at the Secretary of State's office.
Log on to the appropriate Secretary of State website. This allows companies to search the state's online database for registered business names. Input the desired business name to compare with existing entities in the state. Submit the appropriate fee via credit or debit card. State's like Indiana and New jersey allow online name availability inquiries.
Mail an inquiry to the Secretary of State's office where the business will operate. Another option may be to appear in person at the Secretary of State's office. Complete a name availability inquiry that will consist of your name, contact information and the proposed company name. If paying by mail, include the applicable fee in the form of a money order or check. Cash, as well as debit and credit cards may be payment options when conducting a name search in person.
Visit the County Clerk's office in person. Search a listing of registered fictitious business names in the county. This ensures the business name isn't registered by another business owner in the county. According to the Findlaw website, this step may not be required if the state provides a state-wide name search. Pay the appropriate fee.
Search the federal trademark database. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to ensure your business name hasn't been trademarked by another company. This search can be conducted free of charge.