If you are forming an LLC or a corporation in Missouri, 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, the state of Missouri 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 Missouri Secretary of State before registering your LLC or Corporation. There is no fee to search.
Also See: Guide to Starting a Business in Missouri
How to do a Missouri Business Name Search
Step 1: Visit the Business Name Database
Visit the Missouri Secretary of State website.
Step 2: Search your Business Name
Enter the name you would like to use in the “Search for a Business Entity” field. In this example, we will look up the “Lawn & Order” and click the “Search” button.
Step 3: Review 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 Missouri, 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 for the business name you are interested in to get a detailed report. In this example, we will look up “Lawn & Order, L.L.C..”
While the name “Lawn & Order” may not be available, we can look at the example of the available name, “Cowboy Cleaners.” Searching for this name brings a result that says, “No records to display.” 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 Missouri. 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:
- Business Name
- Entity type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Domesticity – Will either be domestic or foreign. A domestic entity is one that initially formed and operates in the state. A foreign entity is one that initially formed in another state and wants to physically do business in the state.
- 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 in good standing, and all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other statuses that may indicate a business name is available to include “Admin Dissolved,” “Voluntarily Dissolved,” or “Forfeited.”
Principal Address – This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
- Date the entity was filed with the Secretary of State
- The Articles of Organization are also available to view.
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 a Fictitious Business Name (Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)
The Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information on sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and LLCs registered in Missouri.
A sole proprietorship or partnership operating their business under a name that is different from the owner’s legal name will register for a Fictitious Business Name, which is also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Assumed Name, or Trade Name.
What are the requirements to name an LLC in Missouri?
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 Application for Reservation a Name with the Missouri Secretary of State. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 60 days, at the cost of $25.
How do I form a Missouri 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 Missouri LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.
While not required in Missouri, 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, Missouri business licenses and permits may still be necessary.