If you are forming a business in Vermont, 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. The state of Vermont requires each sole proprietorship, partnership, 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 Vermont Secretary of State before starting your business.
Also See: Guide to Starting a Business in Vermont
How to do a Vermont Business Name Search
Step 1: Visit the Business Name Database
Go to the Vermont Secretary of State website.
Step 2: Search your Business Name
Enter the name you would like to use in the “Business Name” field. In this example, we will look up “Sew What.” It is recommended to search by “Starts With,” “Exact Match,” and “Contains” to search your name thoroughly.
Step 3: Review Results
Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Express Cleaning.” To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Vermont, 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 any of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Business Name” column to see a detailed report.
While the name “Express Cleaning” by itself may not be available, other variants are such as “Express Cleaning of Vermont.” Searching for this business name brings a result that says, “No data found with your search criteria.” Even if the name looks like it is available, the Secretary of State will do their own search to avoid confusing potential customers with a business name that sounds like someone else’s. Typically words that sound alike but are spelled differently, and even abbreviations will make names show up as available but won’t be approved.
These are the basics of searching for a business name in Vermont. Even when the name of the business you want looks like it 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.
Something to also 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?
What information can be looked up in the business name 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.
- Status – Active means the entity is in good standing, and all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Expired,” “Inactive,” “Dissolved,” or “Terminated.” The names of these inactive results may be available to register.
- NAICS Code – The North American Industrial Classification System is a number that corresponds to the industry of the business.
- Designated Office Business Address – This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
- Principals Information – Members, Managers, and Officers of the entity
- 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.
- Additional information can also be found from the filed Articles of Organization (LLC), Articles of Incorporation (Corp), and Annual Report.
How to Register a Trade Name (Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)
A sole proprietorship or partnership operating their business under a name that is different from the owner’s legal name will register for a Trade Name, which is also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Assumed Name, or Fictitious Business Name.
Before starting a sole proprietorship or partnership, a name search will be needed before selecting a name.
What are the requirements to name an LLC in Vermont?
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.
How do I form a Vermont 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 Vermont LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.
While not required in Vermont, an Operating Agreement, which contains 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, Vermont business licenses and permits may still be necessary.