The first step in starting a business in Maryland is to verify the business name is available to use. Every business entity in the state will need to register a unique name with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. See our step-by-step guide to learn how to quickly search available names by using the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Business Entity Database.
How to do a Maryland Business Name Search
Before forming a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or 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 State Database
Step 2: Search your Name
Enter the name you would like to use in the “Business Name” field. In this example, we will look up “Lawn & Order.”
Step 3: Review the Results
Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Lawn & Order.” To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Maryland, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered.
If the name you want is taken, be sure to first look at the “Status.” If it shows “Forfeited,” there may still be an opportunity to register it as the previous owner is not in good standing with the state.
Unfortunately, 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 “View Business Details” button to see a detailed report. In this example, we will look up “Lawn and Order LLC.”
While the name “Lawn & Order LLC” by itself may not be available other variants are like “Baltimore Lawn & Order” or Lawn & Order by Joe” are. Searching for those business names brings a result that says, “The business name you entered was not found.” While final approval is still with the Department of Assessments and Taxation, it is likely available to register.
These are the basics of searching for a business name in Maryland. Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Department of Assessments and Taxation 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:
- Business Name
- Principal Office – This could be the physical address of the business, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
- Registered Agent’s information – A Registered Agent 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 publically listed.
- Status – Active means the entity is still in operation, while Forfeited means the business has closed.
- Good Standing – If all reports and filing fees are up to date, the business is considered to be in good standing
- Business Type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Date of Formation – When the entity was filed with the Department of Assessments and Taxation
What are the requirements to name an LLC in Maryland?
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 Corporate Name Reservation Form can be filed to hold the name for up to 30 days. The state filing fee for a name reservation is $25.
How do I form an LLC?
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 Maryland LLC by reading our step-by-step guide.
While not required in Maryland, 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.
Also, be sure to check for Maryland business licenses and permits to ensure the business is legal to operate.