If you are forming an LLC or a corporation in Alabama, the first thing you need to do is a business name search. This search checks all the registered business entities in the state to see if the business name you want to use is available. Like most other states, Alabama requires each LLC or corporation registered in the state to have a unique business name. So, before starting your business, it’s important to run a business entity search to verify if the name is available through the Alabama Secretary of State before registering your LLC or Corporation. There is no fee to search.
Something to keep in mind is that even though each Corporation and LLC name must be unique, it may not stop someone else from using that name since business names for a sole proprietorship or partnership are not registered by the Secretary of State and are not required to be unique. To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.
Related: How to start a business in Alabama
How to Search for a Business Name in Alabama
An Alabama Entity Search looks up registered business names through the Alabama Secretary of State’s website. The Secretary of State has information about For-Profit Corporations (Domestic & Foreign), Non-Profit Corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Limited Partnerships, and Limited Liability Partnerships.
On the website, there are a few ways that you can search for a business entity registered in the state of Alabama.
- Entity Name
- Entity Number
- Officer | Agent | Incorporator
- Month and Year
- Reservation | Registration by ID
Let us discuss each of the ways in detail.
Search by the Entity Name
The most common way to do a Corporation or LLC name search is by searching for the entity name. Just enter the name you want to search for in the “Name” field, click on the “Search” button, and the business records will be searched. In this example, we searched for “Cowboy Cleaners.”
When searching, don’t use any punctuations such as apostrophes or commas. Also, designators such as LLC and Corp shouldn’t be used either.
If you are lucky and no matches are found as in this example, you can register the business name.
However, if you were to search for “Mother Trucker,” there is a Limited Liability Company registered under that name. From this search, you can find the Entity ID, Entity Name, City, Type of Entity, and the Status. If the status says “Exists,” that means there is a company that is using the name and is in good standing with the Secretary of State. If Status says “Previous Name,” “Merged,” “Withdrawn,” or something else, it may mean the name is open, however, you will have to check with the Business Entity Records department to be sure.
By clicking on an entry, more information about the entity would be shown.
Search by the Entity Number
Search by visiting the Business Entity Search by Entity ID link.
This part is a little tricky since this is private information, but it is still possible to search for this to see if the business is actually registered with the state and is in good standing. Remember that in Alabama, businesses are given a unique 6 digit code that represents the entity number. The page looks like the one below.
Enter the six-digit number, and the page will direct you to the business that is registered under that number.
Search by the Agent, Officer, or Incorporator
Searching by Agent, Officer, or Incorporator, you can search by the names of people running an LLC or Corporation. In this option, you can search for the incorporator or member, registered agent, president, or secretary if you know the status of the officer that you are looking for.
If you are registering a business entity, it may make sense to use a Registered Agent Service such as Northwest Registered Agent as the individual’s names become public record and is concerning to some.
You can narrow down a search by selecting the “Place of Formation,” but if you are unsure of anything, just click on “All Records,” and you are good to go.
Additional Ways to Search
You can also search the database by searching.
- Month and year of when the entity was formed
- Date – the entity was formed
- Reservation ID – Based on the reservation certificate.
More information is available from the:
Secretary of State Business Entities Division
770 Washington Avenue, Suite 580
Montgomery, AL 36103-5616
How to Register a Trade Name (Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)
To register, a sole proprietorship or partnership operating their business under a name that is different from the owner’s legal name will register for a Trade Name, also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Assumed Name, or Trade Name.
What are the requirements to name an LLC in Alabama?
In addition to the name being unique, the name of the LLC must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, LLC, L.L.C., etc., in addition to not using restricted words such as bank or insurance, unless the entity is licensed to operate as such.
Can an LLC name be reserved?
If there is a name you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Reservation of a Business Entity Name (Form SCC631) with the Alabama Secretary of State. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 120 days, at the cost of $10.
How to Form an LLC
Learn how to form an Alabama LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Certificate of Formation.
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) will need to be registered for a new LLC. There is no cost to get one through the IRS.
After forming, business licenses and permits in Alabama may still be necessary.