How to Search Available Business Names in Florida

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Quick Reference

Whether you’re researching the availability of a business name or checking the status of a business entity, find the information you need from the Florida Department of State’s website.

The Department of State’s Business Entity Database provides information for corporations and LLCs registered in Florida.  The names of sole proprietorships or general partnerships are not centralized and are registered with the Town Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located.

There is no fee for searching the database.

Also See: Guide to Starting a Business in Florida

What information can be looked up?

The database search can find information on:

  • Date Filed – The date the business entity formation was submitted to the Department of State
  • Effective Date – Date the corporation or LLC started
  • Status – “Active” means the entity is in good standing.
  • Principal Address – Physical address of the entity.  This can be a physical location like a storefront or an address where the records are stored.
  • Mailing Address – An address where communications from the Department of State are sent.
  • 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 Agents so their home address isn’t listed.
  • Authorized Person(s) Detail – Name(s) of people who are authorized to act on behalf of the entity.
  • Document Images – Filings like the Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation.

How to do a Florida Business Name Search

  1. Visit the Florida Department of State’s website.
  2. Enter the name you would like to use in the “Entity Name” field.  In this example, we will look up “Sew What” and then click “Search Now”.How to do a Florida Business Name Search
  3. When we search “Sew What” we get several listings that show up.  One column to keep an eye on when searching for available business names is the last column called “Status”.  A record with a status of “INACT” means it is inactive and probably available to use.  A message of “Active” means the company is operational and in good standing with the state. We are looking for names that are very similar to the one we want to register.  In this example, forming a business named “Sew What LLC” (with or without the question mark) isn’t possible since there is an active listing.To learn more about a business, click on the link for “Corporate Name”.  Here we will select the “SEW WHAT LLC” listing that is active.

    FL Business Entity Search

  4. Clicking on the name gives us a detailed view of the business.Business Name Details Florida Department of State
  5. 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.FL Name Availability

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Florida.  Even when the name of the business you want is available, the Department of State’s Sunbiz website 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 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 DBA (Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)

To register, a sole proprietorship or partnership operating their business under a name that is different from the owner’s legal name will register for a DBA, also known as “Doing Business As,” Assumed Name, Trade Name, or Fictitious Name Registration.

Related: How to register a Trade Name in Florida

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 a Florida LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.

While not required in Florida, 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 a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).  This is a “social security number” for the business.  There is no cost to get one through the IRS.

After forming the LLC, Florida business licenses and permits may still be necessary.

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