Whether you’re searching for the right business name or registering your LLC with the Maryland DAT, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct a Maryland corporation search, plus LLC naming rules, trade names and registering your business.
General Rules for LLC Names
These rules typically apply to all LLCs, no matter what state they're formed in.
The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the state of Maryland. This is why you should check business name availability on the MD Business Express website.
It’s not enough for your MD LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC in Maryland. 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 like “A,” “And,” “An,” “&,” “The,” etc.
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of a word
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All LLCs must have the words “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC” in their name. These words should normally come 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 MD agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Maryland Comptroller, Maryland 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 Olympic organization
- Imply a purpose that it would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific Rules for Maryland Business Names
The general rules listed above are also rules enforced by the state of Maryland and are detailed in the state's code on Corporations and Associations, Title 1, Subtitle 5, Section § 1-502.
How to Come Up with a Business Name
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.
Maryland Business Search
Once you have an idea of the business name you’d like to use, you’ll need to complete a Maryland business entity search to make sure the name isn't already taken by another business.
Incfile offers a fast, simple and convenient tool to look up your proposed business name. The Maryland DAT also has a tool through which you can perform a Maryland entity search to see if someone already has your desired business name.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Maryland 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 infringe is to carry out a trademark search through Incfile. If no one else is using it, you can even register it as a trademark yourself.
Maryland DBA or Trade Name
You may do business under a name other than your legal LLC name. In some states, this is called a DBA (doing business as), fictitious, or assumed name. In Maryland, it’s called a trade name. You might choose to use a trade name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your business might be called Maryland Commercial Real Estate Holding Company, LLC and you have a chain called Baltimore Property Rentals. You should file a trade name to let the Maryland DAT know. In Maryland, you do that with the Trade Name Application, 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 Maryland DAT
Once you’ve completed a Maryland business name search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a trade name, you can register your LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this.