Whether you’re researching the availability of a business name or checking the status of a business entity the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website has the information you need.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Business Entity Database provides information on corporations and LLCs registered in Michigan.  The names of sole proprietorships or general partnerships are not centralized. Instead, they are registered with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located. While they are registered with the County Clerk, the name must not match any name in the Business Entity Database.

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:

  • Entity type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
  • Status – Good standing means all reports and filing fees are up to date
  • 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 in Michigan (commonly known as a Registered Agentt 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 or IncFile so their home address isn’t listed.  
  • Date the entity was filed with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
  • Names of the officers and their title

How to do a Michigan Business Name Search

Visit the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Search by entity Name” field.  In this example, we will look up “Sew What” and click “Search”. It’s 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.

How to do a Business Name Search in Michigan

Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Sew What”.  To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Michigan, 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 “Entity Name” column to see a detailed report.  In this example, we will look up “Sew What, L.L.C.”. Even if you see your exact name in the results, you will want to check if the business in in good standing. In this example, Sew What, L.L.C. hasn’t been in good standing since 2003. A business name that is not in good standing may be available for another to register.

While the name “Sew What, LLC” by itself may not be available other variants are such as “Sew What Quilting” or “Sew What Seamstress” 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 Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, it is likely available to register. 

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Michigan.  Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs 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 forming an LLC in Michigan, 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 Michigan LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in Michigan, 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, be sure to check if any business licenses and permits will be needed.