Whether you’re searching for the perfect business name for your Virginia S Corp or Virginia C Corp, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct a VA State Corporation Commission business search, plus business naming rules, fictitious names and trademarks.
General Rules for Corporation Names
These rules generally apply to all corporations, wherever they're formed.
The name you choose cannot be used by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform a Virginia State corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your corporation name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of another business in the state. In addition, you cannot use any of the following features in an attempt to differentiate your corporation name from that of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., etc.
- Definite articles, such as “A,” “An,” or “The”
- The conjunction "And," or “&"
- Numbers in place of numerals (or vice versa), e.g., "One World" is the same as "1 World"
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of words
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All corporations must use one of the following in their names, usually at the end of the name: “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Limited” or their abbreviations.
Most states will not allow you to incorporate with names that:
- Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Virginia Department of Taxation, Virginia Rangers, 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 Virginia Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some Virginia corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the Code of Virginia Title 13.1, Chapter 9, § 13.1-630, the name of a corporation "shall contain the word "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or "limited," or the abbreviation "corp.," "inc.," "co.," or "ltd." Such words and their corresponding abbreviations may be used interchangeably for all purposes."
In addition, Title 13.1, Chapter 9, § 13.1-630 contains a a few regulations that must also be met when naming a corporation.
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the perfect business name, but essentially, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free name generator.
Virginia Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of your preferred name, perform an VA corporation search to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the Clerk's Information System to perform a name search.
You can also use our simple and convenient Business Name Search Tool, which will search the state's business registry for you.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Virginia corporation name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to ensure you're not infringing is to perform a trademark search through Incfile. If the trademark isn't already in use, you can even register it yourself.
Let Incfile run a trademark search for you.
Register a DBA in Virginia
You may do business under a name different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as a trade name, assumed name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's a fictitious name in Virginia. You may decide to use a fictitious name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called Quantum Hospitality, Inc., and you have a chain called Quantum Events. You could register a fictitious name just for that brand. You'd do that by filing a form for a Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf with our DBA service.
In order to keep your business names unique, you can also use the Virginia business entity search. You can perform a Virginia fictitious name search to find out whether any other companies are already using the assumed name you want. We can also help you with this via our DBA name service.
Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.
Register Your Business Name with the VA State Corporation Commission (SCC)
You’ve performed a Virginia SCC business search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need a fictitious name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.
Incorporate in Virginia for $0 + State Fee ($75)
FAQs About Naming Your Virginia Corporation
Use our free Business Name Search Tool and enter your desired business name. You can also perform a search of the clerk's information system (CIS), which will tell you whether any other corporations or LLCs in the state are already using that name.
Yes. Most corporations will be bound by general rules (applicable to all corporations) and specific rules (applicable in the state of Virginia). We’ve detailed these rules above.
Yes. You can conduct business under a fictitious name. Details are above.
Yes. The VA State Corporation Commission allows you to reserve a name if you're not ready to start your business immediately. Details are above. If you do want to start your business right away, you don't need to reserve a name.