NC Secretary of State Business Searches & Naming Your LLC
We’re here to help you find the right business name for your North Carolina LLC. From carrying out a North Carolina business search to understanding naming rules or creating a “Doing Business As” name to register your entity, you’re in the right place.
North Carolina Business Entity Search
You should start naming your business by completing a “North Carolina business entity search” with the NC Secretary of State. They have a helpful tool on their website that lets you search the register of NC LLCs and corporations to see if someone already has your desired business name.
If the business name is already used, that means it’s not available and you won’t be able to register it. Try searching for a different business name instead.North Carolina Secretary of State Business Name Search Tool
North Carolina SOS Rules for Naming an LLC
Once you’ve decided on a name for your LLC and checked business name availability, you’ll need to meet North Carolina Secretary of State naming rules. These do vary from state to state — we’ve got general naming rules below, as well as naming rules specific to LLC businesses formed in NC.
The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the state of North Carolina. This is why you should check business name availability on the NC SOS website.
It’s not enough for your NC LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC in North Carolina. 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 NC agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, North Carolina Department of Revenue, North Carolina 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
“DBA”/ Assumed Business Names for North Carolina LLCs
You might choose to do business under a different name from your legal LLC name. Often called a “DBA” (“doing business as”) name, in North Carolina, it’s referred to as an “Assumed Business Name.” You might choose to use a different name from your formal NC LLC name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your LLC might be called North Carolina Travel Holding Company LLC, and you have a chain called Appalachian Outdoor Adventures. You should file an Assumed Business Name to let the North Carolina Secretary of State know. In North Carolina, you do that through an Assumed Business Name Certificate, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf through our Assumed Business Name service.Incfile's Assumed Business Name Service
Register Your Business Name in NC
Once you’ve searched for your North Carolina business name, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need an Assumed Business Name, you can register your NC LLC name. If you’re ready to start your North Carolina LLC, you can formally file your Articles of Organization with the North Carolina SOS, or let Incfile take care of it for you.
FAQs on Naming Your North Carolina LLC
You might find the following answers useful.
Just go to the business name search tool and enter your proposed business name. You can search the register of the North Carolina Secretary of State, which will tell you if there are any NC corporations or LLCs with that name.
Yes. Most LLCs will be bound by general rules (applicable to all LLCs) and specific rules (applicable in the state of North Carolina). We’ve detailed these rules above.
Yes. Known as “assumed names,” “fictitious names,” “doing business as names” or “trade names,” you can choose to conduct business under a different name. Details are above.
Other Useful Resources for Naming Your North Carolina LLC
You might find these other resources helpful.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your North Carolina LLC name does not infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to make sure your proposed business name does not infringe is to carry out a trademark search through Incfile. If it doesn’t infringe, you can even register it as a trademark yourself.Incfile Trademark Search and Registration Service
Find the Perfect Name for Your North Carolina LLC
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:
- Appeal to your customers
- Be memorable enough to stand out
- Best represent your product or services
- Not be used by another business