Our work is reader-supported, meaning that we may earn a commission from the products and services mentioned.

How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

Advertising Disclosure


How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

The first step in forming an LLC or corporation in North Carolina is to verify the business name is available to use. Each business entity that is registered with the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State must use a unique name. See our step-by-step guide to learn how to quickly search available names by using the state’s Business Entity Database.

Also See: Guide to Starting a Business in North Carolina

Steps For Searching Corporation and LLC Names In North Carolina

Step 1: Visit the North Carolina Entity Name Database

Visit the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State website.

Step 2: Search for a Business Name

Enter the name you would like to use in the “Entity Name” field.  In this example, we will look up “A1 Affordable Storage”.  It is recommended to search both by “Starting With” “Any Words,” “All Words,” and “Exact” in the “Words” drop-down menu to be sure to search your name thoroughly. Also, keep the default selection of “Company” in the “Search By” field.

How to do a North Carolina Business Name Search

Step 3: Review the Results

Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “A1 Affordable Storage”.  To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in North Carolina, 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.

North Carolina Business Entity Search

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 “A1 Affordable Storage LLC”.

While the name “A1 Affordable Storage” by itself may not be available, other variants such as “A1 Affordable Storage of Charlotte” or “A1 Affordable Storage Solutions” are.  Searching for those business names brings a result that shows there were no results found”.  While final approval is still with the Department of the Secretary of State, it is likely available to register. 


North Carolina Business Name Availability


These are the basics of searching for a business name in North Carolina.  Even when the name of the business you want looks like it is available, the Department of 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 found on the North Carolina business entity database?

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

  • Legal Name
  • Entity type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
  • Status – Current – Active means the entity is in good standing, and all reports and filing fees are up to date. Other results include “Admin. Dissolved”, “Dissolved,” “Withdrawn,” 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, so their home address isn’t listed.  
  • Principal Office Address – This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
  • Company Officials – Names of the officers and their titles.

How to Register an Assumed Business Name for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships

The Department of the Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information on corporations and LLCs registered in North Carolina.  Assumed Business Name registration is also on file with the Secretary of State, which includes sole proprietorships and general partnerships. These names are also searchable by county, with the Register of Deeds office in the county being searched.

An Assumed Business Name, also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Trade Name, or Fictitious Name is a name used by a sole proprietorship or partnership and is different from the owner’s legal name.  

Related: How to register an Assumed Name in North Carolina

How do I form an LLC in North Carolina?

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 North Carolina LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in North Carolina, 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 register for North Carolina business licenses and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) so the business is legal to operate.

What are the requirements to name an LLC in North Carolina?

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 in North Carolina?

If there is a name you want to use but aren’t ready to form the LLC, the Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name can be filed to hold the name for up to 120 days. The state filing fee for a name reservation is $20, paid to the Secretary of State.

How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

How To Do A North Carolina Business Name Search

Greg Bouhl

Greg Bouhl

Welcome! My name is Greg Bouhl, and I am a serial entrepreneur, educator, business advisor, and investor.

StartingYourBusiness.com is here because of the many clients I worked with who made decisions based on inaccurate and outdated information.

Starting a business is hard, but here you will find the practical tools, resources, and insider tips to help you successfully start a business.

If there is a question about starting a business or help finding a resource, I'm here to help!

Follow on LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Many (but not all) of the links on StartingYourBusiness.com are affiliate links. This means that a special tracking code is used and that we may make a small commission on the sale of an item if you purchase through one of these links. The price of the item is the same for you whether it is an affiliate link or not, and using affiliate links helps us to maintain this website.

StartingYourBusiness.com is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Our mission is to help businesses start and promoting inferior products and services doesn’t serve that mission. We keep the opinions fair and balanced and not let the commissions influence our opinions.