Whether you’re searching for the right business name or registering your LLC with the Washington Secretary of State (SOS), we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct an Washington business search, plus LLC naming rules, trade 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.
The business name you have chosen cannot be used by any other LLC or corporation in the State of Washington. This is why it's imperative to perform a Washington business search before you begin the filing process.
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 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, 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 Comptroller, 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 International Olympic Committee
- Imply a purpose that would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific Rules for Washington Business Names
As mentioned above, Washington requires LLCs to comply with the general naming rules. In addition to the general rules, Washington will not accept a business name if it does not meet the name requirements for specific entities. You’ll need to follow these rules to name your business appropriately.
How to Come Up with a Business Name
Finding the perfect business name can be tricky. We have a complete guide to choosing the right business name, but basically, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free Business Name Generator.
Washington Business Search
Once you have an idea of the business name you’d like to use, you’ll need to perform a Washington business entity search to make sure another business doesn’t already have that name.
Incfile offers a fast, simple and convenient tool to look up your proposed business name. The SOS also has a tool that lets you search the State of Washington business registry to see whether someone already has your desired business name.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Washington 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. You can even register it as a trademark yourself, if now one else is using it.
Washington 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), fictitious name or assumed name. In Washington, it's called a registered trade name and also referred to as DBA. You may decide to use a Washington DBA name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your business might be called ING Marketing Solutions, LLC, and under that company, you have an event planning business called ING Excellent Events. You could file for a registered trade name just for that brand. You'll apply for a business license as a DBA, 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 Secretary of State
Once you’ve completed a Washington business entity search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and decided whether you need a registered trade name, you can register your LLC name. There are a couple of ways to do this.