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How to Conduct a Business Entity Search in Wisconsin

Written by:

Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on July 14, 2022

Updated on November 17, 2022

How to Conduct a Business Entity Search in Wisconsin

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How to Conduct a Business Entity Search in Wisconsin

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 Wisconsin, it’s a simple process — just follow the steps outlined below. 

Follow Wisconsin LLC Naming Guidelines

Like all states, Wisconsin has specific rules and restrictions when it comes to business names. You need to follow these or your preferred name could be rejected by the state. 

In Wisconsin, it’s important that your name includes the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.), and your name cannot include words that could confuse your Wisconsin LLC with any government agency. Your name also cannot include words like bank, insurance, university, or any similar names, without approval from certain state authorities. 

Additionally, your name must be distinguishable from all other business names in the state.

Related read: How to Name Your LLC

Search for Name Availability

Now it’s time to do the actual search. In Wisconsin, this requires a visit to the Secretary of State’s Department of Financial Institutions webpage, as detailed in this screenshot. 

Wisconsin Corporate Records Search Form

Next, enter your preferred name in the search box, and click the Search Records button. 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 Wisconsin and not nationally trademarked, and has an available web domain, it’s a good idea to take the next step and make it official. 

In Wisconsin, there is no online name reservation option, you’ll need to complete a form. You can either reserve the name using this form, 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 can mail your completed name reservation form here:

State of WI-Dept. of Financial Institutions
Box 93348
Milwaukee WI, 53293-0348

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. 

wisconsin state map, usa

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions Contact Info

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
4822 Madison Yards Way
North Tower, Madison, WI  53705

Office Hours: 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Phone: (608) 261-9555

Conclusion

Your business name is your business identity, so before you officially register your LLC it’s absolutely crucial that you confirm which names are available and which are not. This will ensure you avoid any business naming potholes and set your LLC up for smooth sailing.