Naming Your North Carolina Limited Liability Company
You need the right name for your North Carolina LLC. Choosing the right name is vital because it tells your suppliers, customers and employees what your business does. North Carolina has several rules and regulations about what you can call your new business. Let’s explore what they are.
General North Carolina Secretary of State Rules on Naming Your LLC
- The name needs to be unique and not used by another LLC or business operating in North Carolina
- The name of your North Carolina business must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC”
- “Limited” and “Company” can be abbreviated to “Ltd.” and “Co.”
Don't Confuse Your North Carolina Business Name With Another Business Name
- It should not be possible to confuse the name of your business with the name of another North Carolina business.
- When deciding if names are substantially similar, you cannot claim a different type face, font, accents, subscript/superscript characters, punctuation or words like “the,” “and,” “of,” etc. to claim your business name is different.
- The following words can’t be used to say your business name is different from another business name: Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp, Co, Inc, Ltd, PC, Professional Corporation, Limited Partnership, LP, L.P., Limited Liability Limited Partnership, LLLP or L.L.L.P.
- For example, you can’t claim that Blue Widget Co., Blue Widget LLC, Blue Widget Incorporated, Blue-Widget-Company or Blue Widget are different from one another.
Rules on Words You Can’t Use in Your Business Name
- Certain restricted words need additional paperwork if you want to use them in your business name. This includes some names associated with institutions (e.g., Bank, Banker, Banking, Trust, Mutual, Cooperative, Co-op), words associated with certain professional service areas (Insurance, Engineer, Engineering, Architect, Architecture, Architectural, Surveyor, Survey, Surveying, Certified Public Accountant) and abbreviations of these words.
- There are several other words that the Department of the Secretary of State could reject in your corporate name without adequate documentation that your business is legally qualified to provide the service implied.
- You can also be a North Carolina LLC with a different “doing business as” name. In North Carolina this is known as an “Assumed Name.” You can find more information on the Secretary of State website.
North Carolina Information on Naming an LLC
- A name can be used to form any type of business entity, not just an LLC.
- Just filing a name registration doesn’t guarantee you will be granted the name. You should wait until your LLC is legally formed before using the name for anything else.
Rules on Infringing on Service Marks or Trademarks Inside or Outside North Carolina
In addition to the rules above, it’s also vital to see if your North Carolina LLC name might infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. For example, it might not be a good idea to call yourself “Google Search Optimization Services” since Google is a trademark.
The easiest way to see if your proposed business name infringes is to carry out a trademark search. You can do that via the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or Incfile can help you protect your business with our new trademark search and registration service. You should also bear in mind that your North Carolina business entity name cannot be substantially similar to an existing trademark or service mark.
You should also search the NC Secretary of State trademark registry to see if a trademark is already registered in the state.
How to Search for Your North Carolina Business Entity Name
Search the database of the North Carolina Secretary of State for your proposed business name to see if it's unique. You can search for:
- Entity name
- Officer/registered agent
- Company officials
What Should You Call Your North Carolina LLC?
Finding the perfect name can be tough. You want a business name that:
- Describes what your North Carolina business does
- Appeals to your planned audience
- Makes your business easy to find
- Is relatively unique
- Doesn’t limit you to a particular location or type of product or service
Fortunately, we’ve got some good advice on seeking out the perfect business name for your North Carolina LLC. Check out our guidance on naming your LLC and get inspired.
You’ve Found the Perfect Name, What Next?
Once you’ve found the right name for your business, it’s time to make it a reality. Check out our packages for starting your North Carolina LLC and form your LLC today.