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How to Conduct a Business Entity Search in North Carolina

Written by:

Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on July 25, 2022

Updated on November 23, 2022

How to Conduct a Business Entity Search in North Carolina

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How to Conduct a Business Entity Search in North Carolina

Before you register and form your limited liability company (LLC), you need to make sure the name you’ve chosen is available in your state. If you choose a name that’s already in use, the state will deny your LLC application. So checking name availability is absolutely crucial. In North Carolina, it’s a simple process — just follow the steps outlined below. 

Follow North Carolina LLC Naming Guidelines

Like all states, North Carolina has a set of restrictions when it comes to business names. You need to follow these or your preferred name could be rejected by the state. 

In North Carolina, it’s important that your name is distinguishable from all other business names registered with the Secretary of State. Additionally, your business’s name must contain or end with one of the following indicators: 

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • L.L.C.
  • LLC

Be sure the name doesn’t include any words that could result in your LLC being confused with a government agency. Your name also cannot include words like “bank”, “insurance”, or “university” without approval from certain state authorities.

Related read: How to Name Your LLC

businessman filing document papers

Search for Name Availability

Now it’s time to do the actual search. In North Carolina, this requires a visit to the state’s Business Registration database as detailed in this screenshot. 

North Carolina Business Entity Search Form

Next, enter your preferred name in the search box and press enter. Do this with similar names as well to see if businesses exist with similar names. If you find the name during your search, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and choose a different name.

Before you register or reserve the name for your LLC, you should visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure it’s not already trademarked. If it has been, you’re not allowed to use the name. 

Checking for Domain Name

Check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. Once you’ve finished your name checking process, you can register the domain name by choosing an ICANN-accredited registrar such as GoDaddy.

The fee for maintaining your domain name usually ranges from $10 to $20 per year. When you purchase the name, you generally must pay for the first year up front. 

Reserve or Register Your LLC Name 

Now that you know your preferred business name is available in North Carolina, not nationally trademarked, and has an available web domain, it’s a good idea to take the next step and make it official. 

In North Carolina, you have two options. You can either reserve your business name by downloading and filling out the form here, which means the state will hold it for you for 120 days, or you can go ahead and formally register your LLC name here. You will need an account with the Secretary of State to register your LLC.  

The first option gives you more time to be absolutely sure you want to create a new business, while registering right away lets you start your entrepreneurial journey more quickly. The choice is yours. 

You should also consider trademarking your LLC name with the US Patent Office so it’s protected throughout the country. 

North Carolina Secretary of State Contact Info

The official Department of the Secretary of State website.

North Carolina Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626

Phone: 919.814.5400
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Conclusion

Your business name is your business identity, so before you officially register your LLC it’s absolutely crucial to confirm that your preferred name is available. This will ensure you avoid any business naming potholes and set your LLC up for smooth sailing.