Whether you’re searching for the perfect business name for your North Carolina S Corp or North Carolina C Corp, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct an NC Secretary of State business search, plus business naming rules, assumed business 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 very important to perform a North Carolina State corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your corporation name to be unique. It also cannot be comparable to the name of any other business 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, North Carolina Department of Revenue, North Carolina 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 North Carolina Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some North Carolina corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the state's General Statutes Chapter 55D, Article 3, § 55D-20, "the name of a corporation must contain the word "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited", or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd.""
In addition, Chapter 55D, Article 3, § 55D-20 contains a few limitations and restrictions on words being used in business names.
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The right business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the perfect 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.
North Carolina Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of the name you want, perform an NC corporation search to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the state's online business search to check for name availability.
You can also 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 North Carolina 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 yourself, if it hasn't already been claimed.
Let Incfile run a trademark search for you.
Register a DBA in North Carolina
You may do business under a name different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as a trade name, fictitious name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's an assumed name in North Carolina. You may decide to use an assumed name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called Quantum Marketing, Inc., and you have a chain called Quantum Events. You could register an assumed name just for that brand. You'd do that by filing a form for an Assumed Business Name Certificate with your local county register of deeds. Or, you can have Incfile do it on your behalf when you use our DBA service.
In order to keep your business names unique, you can also use the North Carolina business entity search. You can perform a North Carolina assumed name search to find out whether any other companies are already using the assumed business name you want. 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 NC Department of State
You’ve performed a North Carolina SOS business search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need an assumed name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.
Incorporate in North Carolina for $0 + State Fee ($125)
FAQs About Naming Your North Carolina Corporation
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 corporations or LLCs in the state are already using that name.
Yes. Most corporations will be bound by general rules (applicable to all corporations) and specific rules (applicable in the state of North Carolina). We’ve detailed these rules above.
Yes. You can conduct business under an assumed name. Details are above.
Yes. The NC Secretary of State allows you to reserve a name if you're not ready to start your business immediately. Details are above. If you do want to start your business right away, you don't need to reserve a name.