PA Entity Searches & Naming Your Pennsylvania LLC
Whether you’re searching for the right Pennsylvania business name or registering your LLC with the PA Department of State, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on Pennsylvania business entity search, LLC naming rules, fictitious names and registering your business.
PA Corporation Search
Before you register your business, you need to confirm that there's not already a registered Pennsylvania LLC that has your desired business name. This requires a search of the PA Secretary of State website, referred to in Pennsylvania as the Department of State. The PA DOS has a business search tool where you can easily look up PA LLCs and corporations by name and other details. A PA business name search verifies that your name is available for you to use and not taken by another PA entity.
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.Pennsylvania Business Entity Search Tool
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Rules for Business Names
Once you’ve decided on a name for your LLC and checked business name availability, you’ll need to meet Pennsylvania Department 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 PA.
General Business Name Availability Rules
These rules typically apply to all LLCs, no matter what state they are formed in. You will need to pay attention to these rules as they will influence the name you choose for your Pennsylvania LLC.
The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the state of Pennsylvania. This is why you should check business name availability on the PA DOS website.
It’s not enough for your PA LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC in Pennsylvania. 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 PA agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Pennsylvania 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
Specific Pennsylvania Business Name Availability Rules
In addition to the general rules listed above, the Pennsylvania Department of State has some specific business naming rules for your LLC. You will need to follow these rules if you want to name your PA business appropriately.
There are certain prohibited and restricted words that have limitations on how they can be used in a Pennsylvania LLC name. These include:
- "bank," ‘‘banking," ‘‘banker," ‘‘trust," ‘‘college," ‘‘university," ‘‘seminary," ‘‘certified public accountant," ‘‘public accountant," ‘‘architect," ‘‘architecture," ‘‘engineer," "engineering," ‘‘surveyor," ‘‘surveying," ‘‘pharmacist," ‘‘druggist," ‘‘apothecary," ‘‘drug store," ‘‘pharmacy," ‘‘drugs," ‘‘medicine store," ‘‘medicines," ‘‘drug shop," ‘‘pharmaceutical," ‘‘homeopathic," ‘‘homeopathy," “‘annuity," ‘‘assurance," ‘‘beneficial," ‘‘bond," ‘‘casualty," ‘‘endowment," ‘‘fidelity," ‘‘fraternal," ‘‘guaranty," ‘‘indemnity," ‘‘insurance," ‘‘insurer," ‘‘reassurance," ‘‘reinsurance," ‘‘surety," ‘‘title" ‘‘mutual," or “electricity or gas utilities”
Pennsylvania LLC Fictitious Names
You might choose to do business under a different name from your legal LLC name. In Pennsylvania, this is known as a “Fictitious Name.” You might choose to use a different name from your PA formal LLC name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your LLC might be called Pennsylvania Sports and Leisure Holding Company LLC and you have a chain called Daper’s Hockey Gear. You should file a fictitious name to let the Pennsylvania Department of State know. In Pennsylvania, you do that through a Fictitious Name Registration form [DSCB:54-311], 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 with the Pennsylvania Department of State
Once you’ve searched for your Pennsylvania business name, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a fictitious name, you can register your PA LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this:
If you don’t want to form your Pennsylvania LLC right now, you can reserve the business name. You will need to complete a form and file it with the PA DOS. You do not need to reserve a name if you are forming your business right away.
If you’re ready to start your Pennsylvania LLC, you can file your Certificate of Formation with the Pennsylvania Department of State, or let Incfile take care of it for you.
FAQs on Naming Your Pennsylvania LLC
You might find the following answers useful.
You can search the register of the Pennsylvania Department of State, which will tell you if there are any PA corporations or LLCs with that name. Just go to the business name search tool and enter your proposed business name. You can search the register of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, which will tell you if there are any 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 Pennsylvania). 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.
Yes. The Pennsylvania Department of State allows you to reserve a name if you don’t want to start your business immediately. If you are ready to start your business now, you do not need to reserve a name.
Useful Resources for Naming Your Pennsylvania LLC
You might find these resources helpful.
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 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 Pennsylvania 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