Whether you’re searching for the right business name or registering your LLC with the Iowa Secretary of State (SOS), Incfile can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct an Iowa business search, plus LLC naming rules, fictitious names and registering your business.
General Rules for LLC Names
These rules typically apply to all LLCs, regardless of what state they’re formed in.
Your preferred business name cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the State of Iowa. This is why it's imperative to perform an Iowa business entity search before you begin the filing process.
Your LLC name should be unique, but that’s not enough. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC in Iowa. For example, you cannot use the following factors to say your name is different from the name of another business:
- 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.
All LLCs must have the words “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC” in their names, normally at the end of the name.
Most states will not allow you to form LLCs with names that:
- Are very similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Iowa Comptroller, Iowa Police, 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
How to Come Up with a Business Name
Finding the perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the right business name, but basically, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free Business Name Generator.
Iowa Business Search
Once you have an idea of your preferred business name, you’ll need to perform an Iowa business name search to make sure the name hasn’t been taken by another business.
Incfile offers a fast, simple and convenient tool to look up your proposed business name. The Iowa Secretary of State also has a tool that lets you search the State of Iowa business registry to see whether another business entity already has your desired business name.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Iowa LLC name doesn’t infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to make sure your proposed business name doesn’t do that is to complete a trademark search through Incfile. If no one else is using it, you can even register it as a trademark yourself.
Iowa DBA or Fictitious Name
You may do business under a different name from your legal LLC name. In some states, this is called a DBA (doing business as), trade name or assumed name. In Iowa, it's called a fictitious name. You may decide to use an Iowa fictitious name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your business might be called Midwest Marketing Solutions, LLC, and under that company, you have an event planning business called Midwest Events. You could file for a fictitious business name just for that company. You'll file a resolution to adopt a fictitious name with the Secretary of State, or you can 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 Your Business Name with the Iowa Secretary of State
Once you’ve completed an Iowa business entity search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a fictitious name, you can register your LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this.