How to Search Available Business Names in New York

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Quick Reference

Whether you’re researching the availability of a business name or checking the status of a business entity the New York Department of State website has the information you are looking for.

The Department of State’s Corporation and Business Entity Database provides information on corporations and LLCs registered in New York.  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. 

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
  • Initial DOS Filing Date – Date the entity was filed with the Department of State
  • Entity type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
  • Current Entity Status – Active means the entity is in good standing and all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Inactive Voluntary Dissolution, Inactive Revocation”, “Cancelled” among others. The names of these results may be available to register.
  • 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 or IncFile so their home address isn’t listed.  

How to do a New York Business Name Search

Visit the New York Department of State website.

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Entity Name” field.  In this example, we will look up “Sew What”, enter the captcha and click “Search the Database”.  It is recommended to search both by “Begins With”, “Contains” and “Partial” in the drop-down menu to be sure search your name thoroughly.

How to do a New York Business Name Search

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 New York, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered. If you were looking to form a corporation with this name you wouldn’t be able to since there is already one registered.

New York Business Entity Search Results

To find more information about any 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 Inc”.

New York Corporation Search Results

While the name “Sew What” 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 “There were no records found”.  While final approval is still with the Department of State, it is likely available to register. 

New York Business Name Availability

These are the basics of searching for a business name in New York.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the Department 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 New York LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in New York, 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, New York business licenses and permits may still be necessary.