How Do You Do a Business Name Search?

To perform a business name search, go to the website of the county or state governing body that handles new business licenses for the company's area, and enter the name in the search field. In many areas, this process is handled by the Secretary of State or Clerk-Recorder's office.

In order to register a new business in an area, you must verify that its name is not already in use. Search forms available on county and state websites simplify this process by allowing users to verify business records, including both business and business owner or member names. The straightforward process requires locating the search options for the specific county or state and then entering the name of the business in the search field. If the system returns no results, the name is free for use at the time of the search.

Business name registries typically include LLCs and S corporations as well as small businesses operating under a Doing Business As name. Some states may not require users to file a DBA form for all names the company or sole proprietor wishes to use, and the requirements for filing the name vary by jurisdiction. The United States Small Business Administration maintains a list that helps entrepreneurs determine where to begin the business name search or registration process.