Whether you’re searching for the right business name or registering your LLC with the PA Department of State, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to perform a PA corporation search, plus LLC naming rules, fictitious names and registering your business.

 

General Rules for LLC Names

These rules typically apply to all LLCs, no matter what state they are formed in.

1
Your LLC Name Must Be Unique

The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in Pennsylvania. This is why it's so important to conduct a Pennsylvania corporation search.

2
Your LLC Name Must Not Be Confusable with Another Business Name

It’s not enough for your LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of any other corporation or LLC in Pennsylvania. In addition, 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, such as “A,” “An,” or “The”
  • The conjunction "And," or “&"
  • The singular, plural or possessive forms of a word
  • Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
3
Your LLC Name Must Contain Certain Words

All LLCs must have the words “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC” in their name, usually at the end of the name.

4
Your LLC Name May Have Other General Restrictions

Most states will not allow you to form LLCs with names that:

  • Are very similar to the name of a federal or PA agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Pennsylvania Police, Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Business Names

In addition to the general rules listed above, the Pennsylvania Department of State has its own naming statutes. The most important one to be aware of deals with PA fictitious names.

How to Come Up with a Unique Business Name

The perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the right name for your business, 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 in Pennsylvania

Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free Business Name Generator.

Pennsylvania Business Search

Once you have an idea of the business name you’d like to use, you’ll need to complete a PA entity search to make sure another business doesn’t already have that name.

Incfile offers a fast, simple and convenient tool to look up your proposed business name. The Department of State also has a tool that lets you search the Pennsylvania business registry to see whether someone already has your desired business name.

Find out whether your preferred business name is available in Pennsylvania with Incfile’s free tool

Trademarks and Service Marks

You must be careful that your Pennsylvania LLC name does not infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to make sure your proposed business name doesn't do that 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.

Make sure your business is starting off on the right foot when it comes to intellectual property.

Let Incfile run a trademark search for you.

 

Pennsylvania DBA or Fictitious Name

In most states, if you conduct business under a name other than your primary business name, it's called a DBA or "doing business as." Some states call it a trade name, assumed name or fictitious name.

Pennsylvania does allow this, and it uses the term "fictitious name." But that's the term for any business name you choose that is not your legal name.

For example, if your name is Mary Smith, and you open "Mary Smith's Garage," you only have to file for the Certificate of Organization.
But if you're Mary Smith and you decide to open "Fast and Furiously Good Garage," you'll need to file a Registration of Fictitious Name form in addition to filing for the Certificate of Organization.

Whether you conduct business through your primary LLC and name it something other than your legal name, or you conduct business through another entity associated with your LLC (what other states would call a DBA), you'll need to register a fictitious name.

You can also have Incfile take care of this on your behalf through our DBA Name service.

Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.

Advertising Requirements

When you register a fictitious name, you must also publish notice to inform the public that you've done so. If an individual is listed in Box 4 of the Registration of Fictitious Name form, advertising is required. If the registration does not list an individual, advertising is not required.

The notice should be placed in two newspapers with general circulation in the county in which the business will be located, one of which must be a legal newspaper. If there is only one newspaper with general circulation in the county, just the one notice in that newspaper is sufficient to meet the publication requirement. You can find more information about official publication in 15 Pa.C.S. §102, and about advertising requirements in 54 Pa.C.S. §311(g).

The state provides a geographical listing of acceptable newspapers to meet this requirement, but if you don't see a publication you need on that list, contact the Pennsylvania Department of State directly for more information.

Important: Incfile does not fulfill publication requirements when filing for DBAs or fictitious names.

Register and manage a fictitious name through our easy-to-use service
 

Register Your Business Name with the Pennsylvania Department of State

Once you’ve conducted a Pennsylvania corporation search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a fictitious business name, you can register your LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this.

1

If you don’t want to form your LLC right now, you can reserve the business name. You will need to complete a Name Reservation/Transfer of Reservation form and file it with the Pennsylvania Department of State. You do not need to reserve a name if you are forming your business right away.

2

If you’re ready to start your LLC, you can file your Certificate of Organization with the Pennsylvania Department of State, or have Incfile do it for you.

Incfile can handle all your formation paperwork with the State of Pennsylvania for you — and we’ll do it for free!

Form an LLC in Pennsylvania for $0 + State Fee ($125)

FAQs About Pennsylvania Business Names

How Do I Search for My Pennsylvania Business Name?

Use our free Business Name Search tool and enter your desired business name. You can also perform a PA business name search in the state's registry, which will tell you whether there are any corporations or LLCs in the state with that name.

Are There Any Rules for Naming My Business in Pennsylvania?

Yes. Most LLCs will be bound by general rules (applicable to all LLCs) and specific rules (applicable in the state of Pennsylvania). We’ve detailed these rules above.

Can I Do Business Under a Name Other Than My Legal Name in Pennsylvania?

Yes. You can conduct business under a fictitious name. Details are above.

Can I Reserve a Name for My Pennsylvania LLC?

Yes. The Pennsylvania Department of State allows you to reserve a name if you don’t want to start your business immediately. Details are above. If you are ready to start your business now, you do not need to reserve a name.

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