Naming Your Washington LLC
Whether you’re searching for the right Washington business name or registering your LLC with the Secretary of State, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on a business entity search, LLC naming rules, fictitious names and registering your business.
Washington Secretary of State Business Search
You should start naming your business by completing a business entity search with the Secretary of State. They have a helpful tool on their website that lets you search the register of WA LLCs and corporations to see if someone already has your desired business name.
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.Washington Secretary of State Business Entity Search Tool
Washington LLC Naming Rules
Once you’ve decided on a name for your LLC and checked business name availability, you’ll need to meet Washington Secretary 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 WA.
General Business Naming 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 Washington LLC.
The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the state of Washington. This is why you should check business name availability on the WA SOS website.
It’s not enough for your LLC name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of a corporation or LLC in the state of Washington. 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 Washington agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Washington Office of Tax and Revenue, Washington 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 Washington State Rules
In addition to the general rules listed above, the Washington Secretary of State has some specific business naming rules for your LLC. You will need to follow these rules if you want to name your business appropriately.
The name of an LLC may not contain any of the following words or phrases: "Cooperative," "partnership," "corporation," "incorporated," or the abbreviations "Corp.," "Ltd.," "Inc.," "LP," "L.P.," "LLP," "L.L.P.," "LLLP," "L.L.L.P." or any words or phrases prohibited by any statute of Washington State.Washington Secretary of State Business Naming Rules
Washington “Doing Business As” (DBA) and Trade Names
You might choose to do business under a different name from your legal LLC name. In Washington, doing business under a different name is known as a “Trade” or “Doing Business As (DBA)” name. You might choose to use a different name from your formal LLC name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your LLC might be called Washington Real Estate Waterside Holding Company LLC and you have a brand called “Seattle Lakefront Properties.” You should file a trade name to let the Washington Secretary of State know. In Washington, you do that through a Business License Application form, or you can have Incfile do it on your behalf through our Assumed Business Name service.Incfile’s DBA/Trade Name Service
Register Your Business Name with the Washington Secretary of State
Once you’ve searched for your Washington business name, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a fictitious name, you can register your WA LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this:
If you don’t want to form your LLC right now, you can reserve the business name with the Washington Secretary of State. You will need to complete a Name Reservation form and file it with the WA SOS. You do not need to reserve a name if you are forming your business right away.
If you’re ready to start your Washington LLC, you can formally file your Certificate of Formation with the SOS, or let Incfile take care of it for you.
FAQs on Naming Your Washington LLC
You might find the following answers useful.
Just go to the business name search tool and enter your proposed business name. You can search the register of the Washington Secretary of State, which will tell you if there are any WA 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 Washington). 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. Details are above.
Yes. The Washington Secretary 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.
Useful Resources for Naming Your Washington LLC
You might find these resources helpful.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Washington 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 Washington 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