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 Iowa Secretary of State website.

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

There is no fee to search the database.

What information can be looked up?

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

  • Legal Name
  • Status – Active means the business entity is in good standing with the Secretary of State and all reports and filing fees are up to date.
  • Expiration Date – How long the entity intends to operate. Most select Perpetual as the intention is to allow the business to operation indefinitely.
  • Effective Date – Date when the LLC officially started
  • Filing Date – Date when the Certificate of Organization was submitted. A company can elect to have an effective date up to 120 days later than the filing date.
  • 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 or IncFile so their home address isn’t listed.  

How to do a Iowa Business Name Search

Visit the Iowa 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 “Lawn Kings” and click “Search”.

How to do an Iowa Business Name Search

Searching the registered names, we get a list of all the businesses with the words “Lawn Kings”.  To be able to register a corporation or LLC name in Iowa, 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.

Iowa Business Entity Name Results

To find more information about each of the registered business names, click on the link under “Business No.” for a detailed report.

Iowa LLC Name Search

While the name “Lawn Kings” isn’t available, doing a search for “Cowboy Cleaners” is an example of a business name search for a name that is available. Searching for this name, brings a result that says “Sorry, no results”.  While final approval is still with the Secretary of State, it is likely available to register. 

Iowa Available Business Name Search

These are the basics of searching for a business name in Iowa.  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. 

How do I form an LLC?

While not required in Iowa, 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, Iowa business licenses and permits may still be necessary.