Whether you’re searching for the right California business name or registering your LLC name with the California Secretary of State (CA SOS), we can help. We’ve got all the information you need to conduct a California business search, plus naming rules, fictitious names and trademarks.

General Rules for LLC Names

These rules usually apply to all LLCs, regardless of the state they're formed in.

1
Your LLC Name Must Be Unique

The business name you select cannot be in use by any other corporation or LLC in the state. This is why it's so important to perform a CA Secretary of State business search before you begin your formation paperwork.

2
Your LLC Name Must Not Be Confusable with Another Business Name

It’s not enough for your LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of another LLC or corporation in the state. Furthermore, you cannot use any of the following features for differentiation:

  • Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., Ltd., LLC, etc.
  • Definite articles, such as “A,” “An,” or “The”
  • The conjunction "And," or “&"
  • The singular, plural or possessive forms of words
  • Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
3
Your LLC Name Must Contain Certain Words

All LLCs must use one of the following in their names, usually at the end of the name: “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC.”

4
Your LLC Name May Be Subject to Other General Restrictions

Most states will not allow you to form LLCs with names that:

  • Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, California Workforce Commission, California Rangers, Treasury, etc.)
  • Suggest affiliation with a federal or state agency or organization
  • Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the International Olympic Committee
  • Imply a purpose that would be illegal for your business to carry out

Specific Rules for California Business Names

In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow California LLC law applicable to naming your business. For example, per California Code of Regulations Title 2, Division 7, Chapter 8.5, §21005, you may not choose a business name that is likely to mislead the public.

For example:

a. If the proposed name creates a false implication of government affiliation.

1

A proposed name may imply a government affiliation if the proposed name contains the recognized name or abbreviation of a city, county, state, country, region or recognized subdivision within a state or country and/or includes a word or words that commonly denote governmental organization or authority.

2

Words that commonly denote governmental organization include, but are not limited to, “Agency,” “Commission,” “Department,” “Bureau,” “Division,” “Municipal” or “Board.”

The Art of Naming Your Business 

Finding the perfect business name can be tough. We have a complete guide to help you choose the right business name, but basically, you'll want a name that will:

  • appeal to your customers;
  • be memorable enough to stand out;
  • best represent your product or services and
  • not be used by another business.

Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free name generator.

California Business Entity Search

Once you've decided upon a name, you'll want to perform a California business search to make sure it isn’t already taken by another business in the state.

You can use the state's online portal to do a name search. Or you can use our simple and convenient Business Name Search tool, which will search the California Secretary of State registry for you.

Use Incfile’s free tool to find out whether your preferred name is available for your LLC in California.

Trademarks and Service Marks

You must be careful that your California LLC name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to ensure you're in the clear is to perform a trademark search through Incfile. If the trademark isn't already in use, you can even register it yourself.

Make sure your business is starting off on the right foot when it comes to intellectual property.

Let Incfile run a trademark search for you.

DBA in California

You can do business under a name different from your legal LLC name. California calls this a fictitious name, though you may be familiar with terms other states use, such as trade name, assumed name or "doing business as" (DBA). You may decide to use a fictitious business name in California for a variety of reasons.

For example, your primary business might be called California Leisure and Travel, LLC, and you have a chain called Hollywood Bus Tours. You could register an assumed name just for that brand. You'd do that by filing with the clerk of the county where your business is located. You can also have Incfile do it on your behalf through our DBA service.

Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.

Register and manage a DBA or fictitious name through our easy-to-use service.

Register Your Business Name 

You’ve performed a California Secretary of State business search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need a fictitious name. Now you can register your LLC name in one of two ways.

1

If you don’t want to form your LLC right now, you can reserve the business name. You'll do this by completing a Name Reservation Request and filing it with the CA SOS. The name will be reserved for 60 days. You don't need to reserve a name if you're forming your business right away.

2

If you’re ready to start your LLC, you can indicate your chosen business name when you file your Certificate of Formation with the CA SOS. Or you can have Incfile do it for you.

Incfile can handle all your formation paperwork with the State of California for you — and we’ll do it for free!

Form your LLC in California for $0 + State Fee

FAQs About Naming Your LLC in California

How Do I Make Sure My Business Name Isn’t Already Taken?

Use our free Business Name Search tool and enter your chosen business name. You can also perform a search of the state's registry, which will tell you whether any other businesses in the state are already using that name.

Are There Any Rules for Naming My LLC in California?

Yes. Most LLCs will be bound by general rules (applicable to all LLCs) and specific rules (applicable in the State of California). We’ve detailed these rules above.

Can I Do Business Under a Different Name Than My Official LLC Name?

Yes. You can conduct business under an assumed name. Details are above

Can I Reserve a Name for My LLC in California?

Yes. The CA SOS allows you to reserve a name if you're not ready to start your business right away. Details are above. If you're ready to start your business now, you don't need to reserve a name.

Launch
Your Business with Incfile

No contracts. No surprises.

Only $0 + state fee to launch your business.

Start Now