Business name availability in California can be checked by submitting a completed name availability inquiry letter to the California Secretary of State's office. The form is available online. However, it must be submitted via postal mail, since email and website submissions are not allowed.
The California Secretary of State's office researches business name availability by checking its database of registered business entities. This office only checks for business names that share the same business structure. For example, a corporate name check request results in a search of corporate names. Another limitation of a state name check is that company names that involve a registered trademark or service mark are not included. A name check also doesn't involve fictitious business names filed at the county clerk's office. Another option is to utilize the state's prepaid priority telephone information service, which provides business name availability via phone. It is important to note that checking for a name's availability does not grant any legal rights to use a name that is available.
It is possible to reserve a business name for a period of 60 days by filing a name request form with the California Secretary of State's office. This request must be submitted by mail along with the fee. A name may also be reserved through the state's prepaid priority phone service.