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 Georgia Secretary of State’s website.
The Secretary of State’s Business Entity Database provides information for corporations and LLCs registered in Georgia. 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 Georgia
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
- Business Type – Corporation, Limited Liability Company. Etc.
- Business Purpose – The business purpose is an optional field when filing the Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation is a summary of what the business does.
- Business Status – Active/Compliance means the business entity is in good standing with all reports and filing fees up to date.
- Date of Formation – Date the business entity was registered with the Secretary of 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 Agents, so their home address isn’t listed.
How to do a Georgia Business Name Search
- Visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.
- Enter the name you would like to use in the “Entity Name” field. In this example, we will look up “Sew What” and click on “Search.” We recommend keeping the button selected for “Contains” as it’s a broader search. If there are too many results, you may want to go with “Exact Match.”
- Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Sew What” in the name. What we want to find is a name that is similar to the name we are looking to register. The closest one is just before the last record, “Sew What?! LLC”. While your business may not have the “?!,” those characters won’t be considered distinguishable, making this a name you can’t register.To find more information about each of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Entity Name” column. In this example, we will look up “Sew What LLC.”
- Clicking on the link for “Sew What LLC” brings an expanded result.
There is also a button to get details on the entities filing history, which includes the business formation and annual registration.
- While the name “Sew What” by itself is likely, not available, other variants are such as “Sew What Quilting” or “Sew What Seamstress” are. Searching for those business names brings a result that says “No data found.” 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 Georgia. 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.
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 Trade Name (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 Trade Name, also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Assumed Name, or Fictitious Business Name.
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 Georgia LLC.
While not required in Georgia, 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, Georgia business licenses and permits may still be necessary.