If you are forming an LLC or a corporation in Indiana, 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. Like most other states, Indiana requires each 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 Indiana Secretary of State before registering your LLC or Corporation. There is no fee to search.
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. To protect your business name, consider getting a trademark.
How to do an Indiana Business Name Search
Step 1: Visit the Business Name Database
Step 2: Search your Business Name
Enter the name you would like to use in the “Entity Name” field. In this example, we will look up “Pool Doctor.”
Step 3: Review Results
Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Pool Doctor.” To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Indiana, the name must be distinguishable from the other names registered.
The word “The” for “Pool Doctor” isn’t considered unique.
Pay attention to the far right column, “Status.” If there is a business name that you would like to use, but the status is “Admin Dissolved,” you may be able to register it.
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 each of the registered business names, click on the link in the “Business ID” column. In this example, we will look up “The Pool Doctor, LLC.”
Clicking on the last link for “The Pool Doctor, LLC” will show a detailed report.
While the name “The Pool Doctor” may not be available, other variants could be something like “The Doctor of Pools.” Searching for this business name 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 Indiana. 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.
What information can be looked up in the 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.
- Creation Date – Date the entity was filed with the Secretary of State
- Principal Office Address – This could be the business’s physical address, or it could be an address where business records are stored.
- Business Status – Active means the business entity is in good standing with the state, and all reports and filing fees are up to date
- Expiration Date – Some entities will have a pre-determined end date (typically investment-related businesses). A “Perpetual” listing means the business intends to operate forever.
- Principal Information – Title, name, and address of the members/shareholders.
- 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.
- Names of the officers and their title
How to Register an Assumed Business Name (Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships)
The Secretary of State Business Entity Database provides information for corporations and LLCs registered in Indiana. The names of sole proprietorships or general partnerships are not centralized and are registered with the County Clerk’s office in the county where the business is located.
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 an Assumed Business Name, which is also known as “Doing Business As,” DBA, Fictitious Name, or Trade Name.
What are the requirements to name an LLC in Indiana?
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?
If there is a name you want to use but are not ready to form the LLC, a Name Reservation application can be filed with the Secretary of State. This application will hold a name for up to 120 days and will cost $20.
How do I form an Indiana 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 Indiana LLC by reading our step-by-step guide on filing the Articles of Organization.
While not required in Indiana, 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 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.
Also, be sure to check for Indiana business licenses and permits to ensure the business is legal to operate.