How to Search Available Business Names in Massachusetts

Last Updated on

Quick Reference

Whether you’re researching the availability of a business name or checking the status of a business entity the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website has the information you need.

The Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information on corporations and LLCs registered in Massachusetts.  The names of sole proprietorships or general partnerships are not centralized. Instead, they are registered with the Town Clerk’s office where the business is located. 

There is no fee to search the database.

What information can be looked up?

The database search can find several pieces of information about the business. Some of the highlights include:

  • Business Name
  • Entity type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
  • Date of Organization – Date the entity was filed with the Secretary of State
  • Principal Address – This could be the physical address of the business or it could be an address where business records are stored.
  • Resident Agent’s information – A Resident 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 Resident Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent or IncFile so their home address isn’t listed. 
  • Name and address of each manager.
  • You can also view filings such as the annual report, certificate of organization and more.

How to do a Massachusetts Business Name Search

1.Visit the Massachusetts Secretary of State website.

2.Enter the name you would like to use in the “Search by entity name” field.  In this example, we will look up “Fix our Lawn” and click on the “Search Corporations” button. It is recommended that you try your search with “Search type” drop-down menu (“Begins with”, “Exact match” and “Full text”). Otherwise, you may miss a name that is already registered.

3.Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Fix our Lawn”.  In this instance there is only one, but your search may show several more. To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Massachusetts, 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.

4. To find more information about each of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Entity Name” column to see a detailed report. 

Massachusetts LLC Name Search Results

5.While the name “Fix our Lawn” by itself may not be available other variants are such as “Fix our Lawn Fast” or “Fix our Lawn Landscaping” are.  Searching for those business names, brings a result that says “No records found; try a new search using different criteria”.  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 Massachusetts.  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. 

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 an Massachusetts LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in Massachusetts, an Operating Agreement, which are the rules for how the LLC operates, may be 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, Massachusetts business licenses and permits may still be necessary.