The first step in forming an LLC or corporation in Maine is to check and see whether the name is available to use. Each business entity that is registered with the Maine Secretary of State must use a unique name. See our step-by-step guide to learn how to quickly search available names by using the Maine Business Entity Database.
The Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information for corporations and LLCs registered in Maine. The names of sole proprietorships or general partnerships are not centralized. Instead, they are registered with the Municipal or Town Clerk where the business is located.
Also See: Guide to Starting a Business in Maine
How To Do A Maine Corporation or LLC Business Name Search
Before forming an LLC, be sure to check for business name availability as each business entity must not already be registered with the state. Here’s how to search:
Step 1: Visit the Secretary of State’s Website
Visit the Maine Secretary of State website.
Step 2: Search the Business Name
Enter the name you would like to use in the “Keyword from name to be searched” field. In this example, we will look up “American Made.”
Step 3: Review Results
When we search for a business name, we get a list of all the businesses with the words that we searched that are somewhere in the name. To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Maine, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered. If you were looking to form an LLC with this name, you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.
To find more information about each of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Information Summary” column to view a detailed report.
While the name “American Made” by itself may not be available, other variants are such as “American Made Furniture” or “American Made in Maine,” is. Searching for those business names brings a result that says, “Found 0 entities for query”. While final approval is still with the Secretary of State, it is likely available to register.
These are the basics of searching for a business name in Maine. Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Secretary of State will make a final determination at the time of filing to ensure the name you picked isn’t too similar to other registered names.
What information can be looked up in the database?
The database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:
- Legal Name
- Filing Type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Status – Good standing means all reports and filing fees are up to date. Suspended means the business may not be in operation. In some cases, the name of a suspended business may be available to register.
- Filing Date – Date the entity was filed with the Secretary of State
- Registered Agent’s information – A Registered Agent in Maine is the singular point of contact for the entity should a legal, or tax notice need to be sent to the business. This is often one of the owners, and if their home address is used, that address becomes public information. Many people find this concerning and use a Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, so their home address isn’t listed.
- Names of the officers and their title
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: Should I trademark my business name?
How to Register an Assumed Name for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships
An Assumed Name, also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Trade Name or Fictitious Name is a name used by a sole proprietorship or partnership and is different from the owner’s legal name.
What are the requirements to name an LLC in Maine?
In addition to the name being unique, the name of the LLC must include a special designator such as Limited Liability Company, Liability Company, 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 to use but aren’t ready to form the LLC, the Application for Reservation of Name (Form MLLC-1) can be filed to hold the name for up to 120 days. The state filing fee for a name reservation is $20, paid to the Secretary of State.
How do I form an LLC in Maine?
Before starting your business and forming an LLC, be sure to do the business entity search first to make sure the name is available to use. Once you know the LLC name is available, learn how to form a Maine LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.
While not required in Maine, an Operating Agreement, which are the rules for how the LLC operates, is a document worth considering, especially for multi-member LLCs.
After forming a Limited Liability Company, be sure to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a “social security number” for the business. There is no cost to get one through the IRS.
After forming the LLC, Maine business licenses and permits may still be necessary.