Whether you’re searching for the right business name or registering your LLC with the North Carolina Secretary of State (SOS), we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to perform an NC SOS business search, plus LLC naming rules, assumed names and registering your business.
General Rules for LLC Names
These rules typically apply to all LLCs, no matter the state they're formed in.
The business name you've chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the State of North Carolina. This is why it's imperative to perform an NC Secretary of State business search before you begin the filing process.
It’s not enough for your LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC in North Carolina. In addition, you cannot use the following features 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 name, usually at the end of the name.
Most states will not allow you to form LLCs with names that:
- Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, North Carolina Controller, 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 International Olympic Committee
- Imply a purpose that would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific North Carolina Rules for Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, North Carolina imposes some specific business naming rules, which include but are not limited to:
How to Come Up with a Unique Business Name
The perfect business name can be difficult to find. We have a complete guide to help you choose the right name for your business, but basically, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with a business name? Try our free Business Name Generator.
North Carolina Business Search
Once you have an idea of the business name you’d like to use, you’ll need to perform a North Carolina business name search to make sure another business doesn’t already have that name.
Incfile offers a simple, convenient tool you can use to look up your desired business name. The North Carolina Secretary of State also has a tool that lets you search the North Carolina business registry to see whether someone already has your desired business name.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your North Carolina LLC name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to make sure you're in the clear is to carry out a trademark search through Incfile. If it's not already in use, you can even register it as a trademark yourself.
Let Incfile run a trademark search for you.
North Carolina DBA or Assumed Name
You can conduct business under a different name from your legal LLC name. In some states, this is called a DBA (doing business as), fictitious name or trade name. In North Carolina, it's called an assumed name. You may decide to use a North Carolina assumed name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your business might be called North Carolina Travel Company LLC, and under that company, you have a hiking business called Appalachian Trail Adventures. You'll want to secure an assumed name specific to that arm of your business. You'll do that by filing an Assumed Business Name Certificate, 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 North Carolina Secretary of State
Once you’ve completed a North Carolina entity search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need an assumed name, you can register your LLC name in one of two ways:
Form your North Carolina LLC for $0 + State Fee ($125)
FAQs About Naming Your North Carolina LLC
Use our free Business Name Search tool and enter your proposed business name. You can also search the North Carolina business registry, which will tell you whether any corporations or LLCs in the state are using 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). You'll find more information above.
Yes. You can conduct business under an assumed name. Details are above.
Yes. The North Carolina Secretary of State allows you to reserve a name if you don’t want to start your business immediately. Details are above. If you're ready to start your business now, you don't need to reserve a name.