Whether you’re searching for the perfect business name or registering your LLC with the Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Incfile can help. We have all the information you need to know on how to conduct a District of Columbia business search, plus LLC naming rules, DBA names and registering your business.
General Rules for LLC Names
These rules typically apply to all LLCs, regardless of what state they’re formed in.
Your preferred business name cannot be used by any other LLC or formed entity in the District of Columbia. This is why it's highly important to perform a Washington DC business entity search before you begin the filing process.
Your LLC name should be unique, but that’s not enough. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC within the District of Columbia. For example, you cannot use the following factors to say your name is different and distinguishable 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 names, normally 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 state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Washington DC Comptroller, District of Columbia 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 Rules for Washington DC Business Names
As mentioned above, Washington DC requires LLCs to comply with the general naming rules. In addition to these rules, the Code of the District of Columbia also states that no entity may use the word "bank" or any variation of it, unless with prior approval of the Mayor.
How to Come Up with a Business Name
Finding the perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing 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 Business Name Generator.
District of Columbia Business Search
Once you have an idea of your preferred business name, you’ll need to perform a District of Columbia business entity search to make sure the name hasn’t been taken by another formed business.
Incfile offers a fast, simple and convenient tool to look up your proposed business name. The District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs also has a tool that lets you search the District of Columbia business registry to see whether another formed business already has your desired business name.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Washington DC LLC name doesn’t 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 complete a trademark search through Incfile. If no one else is using it, you can even register it as a trademark yourself.
Washington DC DBA or Trade Name
You may do business under a different name from your legal LLC name. In some states, this is called a DBA (doing business as) name, fictitious name or assumed name. In the District of Columbia, it's called a trade name. You may decide to use a Washington DC trade name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your business might be called Currant Marketing Solutions, LLC, and under that company, you have an event planning business called Currant Events. You could file for a trade business name just for that company. You'll need to register your trade name with Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, 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 Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Once you’ve completed a Washington DC business entity search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a trade name, you can register your LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this.