Whether you’re searching for the right business name for your Washington DC S Corporation or Washington DC C Corporation, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct a Washington DC DCRA business search, plus business naming rules, trade 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 in use by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform a Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your business name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of another entity 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, Washington DC Employment Services, Washington DC 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 Washington DC Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some Washington DC corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the Code of the District of Columbia Title 29, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3, § 29–103.02: "The name of a business corporation shall contain the word “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited”, or the abbreviation “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.”, or “Ltd.”, or words or abbreviations of similar import in another language."
In addition, some words are restricted by the Code of the District of Columbia Title 29, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3, § 29–103.01:
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The perfect business name can be difficult to choose. We have a complete guide to finding the right 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.
Washington DC Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of the name you want, perform a Washington DC business lookup to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the state's online portal to perform a name search. You'll need to login first to get access to the search integration.
Or, 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 Washington DC 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. You can even register the trademark yourself if it isn't already in use.
Register a DBA in Washington DC
You may do business under a name that is different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as an assumed name, fictitious name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's a trade name in Washington DC. You may decide to use a trade name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called Simple Marketing Solutions Inc., and you have a chain called Rocket Events. You could register a trade name just for that brand. You'd do that by filing a form via CorpOnline, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf with 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 Washington DC DCRA
You’ve performed a Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs corporation search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need a trade name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.