How to Reserve a Company Name

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Once you have a name for your new business and you want to make sure no other business use it, register the name with your state. Registering a company name is required by individual states for all types of business organizations, whether you are sole proprietor, limited liability company or a corporation (the sole proprietor is not required to reserve a name if the owner uses his own given name as the company name).

Visit the Secretary of the State's website in the state where you will be doing business.

Find the business section of the website. If there is no business section, click on forms, enter "Business Name" in the search box or call the number listed on the website.

Search the state's database of business names for the name you wish to use. (Not all states provide a database to search.)

Open the form that states "Reserve Name" or "Registration/Application of Name/Mark." For example, in Alabama the form is "Application to Register Trademark, Service Mark or Trade Name"; in Florida, it is "Application for Registration of Fictitious Name." Some state sites provide a fill-in form that pops up or a printable form you can fill out by hand.

Submit the application/registration electronically or mail your printable form to the mailing address included on the form. The state will send you a copy stating the name was approved or that name is in use already. If it is in use, start over by making small adjustments to create a new name.


  • The Internal Revenue Service requires you have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for a business as well.



About the Author

Rebecca Burnley has been writing since 2008. Her articles appear online at eHow, where she focuses on legal issues and cooking. Burnley is working on a Bachelor of Science in legal studies at Kaplan University.

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  • Business name card holder image by GenerImageN from