Naming Your Washington Limited Liability Company
You need the right name for your Washington LLC. Choosing the right name is vital because it tells your suppliers, customers and employees what your business does. Washington has several rules and regulations about what you can call your new business. Let’s explore what they are.
General Washington Secretary of State Rules on Naming Your LLC
- The name needs to be unique and not used by another LLC or business operating in Washington
- It must contain the words "limited liability company," the words "limited liability" and abbreviation "Co.," or the abbreviation "L.L.C." or "LLC"
Don't Confuse Your Washington Business Name With Another Business Name
- The following terms can’t be used to say your business name is different from another business name:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., Ltd., LLC
- Definite articles like “A,” “And,” “An,” “&,” “The,” etc.
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of a word
- Punctuation and symbols
- Abbreviations of words
- Different typefaces, fonts, superscript, subscript, etc.
- It should not be possible to confuse the name of your business with the name of another Washington business
- For example, you can’t claim that Blue Widget Co., Blue Widget LLC, Blue Widget Incorporated, Blue-Widget-Company or Blue Widget are different from one another
Rules on Words You Can’t Use in Your Business Name
- The Washington LLC name can’t suggest affiliation with any federal or state government entity or agency.
- The Washington LLC name may not imply a purpose that it would be unlawful for the business to conduct.
- The name may not contain any of the following words or phrases: "Cooperative," "partnership," "corporation," "incorporated;" the abbreviations "Corp.," "Ltd.," or "Inc.," or "LP," "L.P.," "LLP," "L.L.P.," "LLLP," "L.L.L.P;" or any words or phrases prohibited by other state rules.
- Certain restricted words need additional paperwork if you want to use them in your business name. This includes names associated with institutions (e.g., bank, credit union) and words associated with certain qualified professions like doctors, engineers, attorneys or architects.
- You cannot use certain prohibited words that would confuse the name of your LLC with a federal or state agency, e.g., IRS, EPA, Treasury, etc.
- You can also be a Washington LLC with a different “doing business as” name. In Washington these are alternatively known as “trade names” and need to be registered with the Washington Business Licensing Service. Learn about fictitious names in your state.
Washington Information on Naming an LLC
- You can reserve a name online. Please note that you do not need to reserve a name if you are forming an LLC. By registering an LLC, the name will automatically be reserved for your business. You would normally only reserve a name if you are not planning on forming your new company anytime soon.
- A name can be used to form any type of business entity, not just an LLC.
- Just filing a name registration doesn’t guarantee you will be granted the name. You should wait until your LLC is formally created before using the name for anything else.
“Doing Business As (DBA)” Names
If you are going to use a different name other than your LLC name to conduct business, you will have to let the Washington Business Licensing Service know. This alternative name is called your “Doing Business As” name.
Rules About Infringing on Service Marks or Trademarks Inside or Outside Washington
In addition to the rules above, it’s also vital to see if your Washington LLC name might infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. For example, it might not be a good idea to call yourself “Google Search Optimization Services,” since Google is a trademark.
The easiest way to see if your proposed business name infringes is to carry out a trademark search. You can do that via the United States Patent and Trademark Office or Incfile can help you protect your business with our new Trademark Search and Registration service. You should also bear in mind that your Washington business entity name cannot be substantially similar to an existing trademark or service mark.
How to Search for Your Washington Business Entity Name
Search the database of the Washington Secretary of State for your proposed business name to see if it's unique. You can search for:
- Business name
- Business status
- Date of formation
- Registered agent name
- Registered agent address
What Should You Call Your Washington LLC?
Finding the perfect name can be tough. You want a business name that:
- Describes what your Washington business does
- Appeals to your planned audience
- Makes your business easy to find
- Is relatively unique
- Doesn’t limit you to a particular location or type of product or service
Fortunately, we’ve got some good advice on seeking out the perfect business name for your Washington LLC. Check out our guidance on naming your LLC and get inspired.
You’ve Found the Perfect Name; What Next?
Once you’ve found the right name for your business, it’s time to make it a reality. Check out our packages for starting your Washington LLC and form your LLC today.