Whether you’re searching for the perfect business name for your Iowa S Corp or Iowa C Corp, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct an IA Secretary of State business search, plus business naming rules, fictitious names and trademarks.
General Rules for Corporation Names
These rules generally apply to all corporations, wherever they're formed.
The name you decide on cannot be in use by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform an Iowa State corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your business name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of another entity in the state. In addition, you cannot use any of the following features in an attempt to differentiate your corporation name from that of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., etc.
- Definite articles, such as “A,” “An” or “The”
- The conjunction "And" or “&"
- Numbers in place of numerals (or vice versa), e.g., "One World" is the same as "1 World"
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of words
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All corporations must use one of the following in their names, usually at the end of the name: “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Limited” or their abbreviations.
Most states will not allow you to incorporate with names that:
- Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Iowa Department of Revenue, Iowa 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 Iowa Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some Iowa corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the Iowa Code Title 12, Chapter 490, § 490.401, the name of a corporation or foreign corporation must "contain the word “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.”, or “ltd.”, or words or abbreviations of like import in another language."
In addition, Title 12, Chapter 490, § 490.401 states that a corporation name "shall not contain language stating or implying that the corporation is organized for a purpose other than that permitted by section 490.301 and its articles of incorporation."
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The perfect business name can be difficult to choose. We have a complete guide to finding the right business name, but essentially, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free name generator.
Iowa Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of your desired name, perform an IA corporation search to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the state's entity search to check for name availability.
Or use our simple and convenient Business Name Search Tool, which will search the state's business registry for you.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Iowa corporation name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to ensure you're not infringing is to perform a trademark search through Incfile. You can even register the trademark for your business if it isn't already in use.
Register a DBA in Iowa
You may do business under a name different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as a trade name, assumed name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's a fictitious name in Iowa. You may decide to use a fictitious name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called Midwest Hospitality, Inc., and you have a chain called Midwest Tours. You could register a fictitious name just for that brand. You'd do that by filing a form for a Fictitious Name Resolution, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf with our DBA service.
In order to keep your business names unique, you can also use the Iowa business entity search. You can perform an Iowa fictitious name search to find out whether any other companies are already using your desired fictitious name. We can also help you with this via our DBA name service.
Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.
Register Your Business Name with the IA Secretary of State
You’ve performed an Iowa SOS business search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need a fictitious name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.