Alaska Business Name Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State (in Alaska, the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Corporations), registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.
How to search for Alaska business names
Before registering a business entity name, search the Division of Corporations to ensure that no other business in the state is using the name. Searching the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s database will help you find names with the exact match or names that are similar to your business name if any.
- Step 1: Navigate to the Division of Corporation’s search tool.
- Step 2: Enter the business entity name in the ‘Entity Name’ box.
- Step 3: Ensure that the radio button for ‘Contains’ is selected for the search type.
- Step 4: Click the ‘Search’ button after entering the search criteria.
The search tool will display names of businesses that are similar or the same as your chosen business name. If the system does not display results for name availability, the name you chose is most likely available. Review similar names – if they are too similar, choose another business name.
The Division of Corporations will not approve an application if a name is too similar. If it does, you risk being sued by the other business owner, and you risk losing customers because of the confusion in the names.
How to register a business name in Alaska
The best way to file a new entity is to file online. If you file online, you must pay online. If you try to print and mail the filing, the state will deny it. Once you finish filing, you should receive a confirmation. Online filings are filed immediately and will post on the web. A business owner will be able to print the filing or certificate immediately.
Business owners can also file by completing a paper application and submitting it by fax or U.S. Mail. It takes 10 to 15 days to process the application from March through September. In the months of October through February, business owners should expect delays that are more than 15 business days.
Business owners can obtain a paper report by navigating to the Initial Report page and entering the entity number or the business name.
Alaska trademark/DBA name search
If a business owner wishes to protect a ‘doing business as’ or DBA name, a logo, or even a word or phrase associated with the business, he can register the trademark with the State of Alaska. However, registering a trademark in Alaska does not protect intellectual property outside of the state. Business owners can find detailed information about filing for a trademark in Alaska, including a .csv file of existing trademarks at the Division of Corporations.
If a business owner wants to protect the business name, logo, and other intellectual property, she must register it with the federal government. If a business owner wishes to determine whether a business name or logo has been trademarked at the federal level, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Check if the domain name is available
Before a business registers its name, the business owner should take additional steps to ensure that the name is available for domain and social media use. While the domain name and social media accounts or pages do not have to have the same name as the business, it is better for marketing purposes.
If another person or entity is already using the name, a prospective business owner can choose another name to register at the state level or use a different name that describes the business for the domain name and social media accounts.
Most businesses prefer that the domain name for their websites are the same as their business names. However, domain registries do not check with state or federal registries for name availability. Thus, another business or individual could use the name you want.
To find out if a domain name is available, visit one of the registry sites, such as GoDaddy. Enter the business name in the search box. If the name is being used, it will display as unavailable. However, a name might be unavailable as a dot-com extension but available as a dot-net extension.
If a domain name is not available
- We do not recommend using your business name with a dot-net extension if the dot-com extension is used by someone else. It is too easy for customers to become confused and end up at your competitor’s website.
- Instead, choose a new name to register with the Department of Corporations or choose a descriptive name for a domain name. For example, if you have a second choice for a business name and have not registered with the state yet, check to see if the domain name for your second choice is available.
- If picking a new business name is not an option, choose a similar or descriptive name for the domain. For example, instead of ABCWidgets, you might choose SmithsABCWidgets or BestAlaskaABCWidgets.
Check if the social media name is available
Before registering with the state, a business owner should also check social media platforms for name availability if she wants the same name for the state, domain, and social media. As with domain names, social media platforms do not check the state’s database for name availability.
Enter the business name in the search box. If nothing comes up, create an account for the business name as soon as possible – before someone else grabs the name.
Naming considerations for Alaska business entities
Businesses must follow the naming conventions for Alaska business entities. Each type has words, phrases, or abbreviations that notify people as to what type of entity the business is. Entities have various levels of personal protection and are taxed in different ways by the Internal Revenue Service. If you are unsure which entity is the best for your business, consult with a business law attorney.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not need to register with the Division of Corporations. However, their names must include the names of the owner. A general partnership must contain the surnames of all of the partners.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A limited liability company usually has pass-through taxation – the business owner pays the taxes on his personal taxes. It offers the same level of personal protection as a corporation. A limited liability company must include one of the following in its name:
- Limited liability company.
It cannot contain the words:
- Any other word that implies that the company is a municipality.
Limited Liability Partnership
A limited liability partnership or registered limited liability partnership must include one of the following in its name:
- Registered limited liability partnership.
- Limited liability partnership.
A limited partnership must contain the words ‘limited partnership’ in its name. It cannot use abbreviations. Additionally, a limited partnership cannot include the name of a limited partner unless the limited partner is also a general partner.
A corporation must include one of the following:
If the corporation is a professional corporation, it must include the words ‘a professional corporation’ or the abbreviation ‘P.C.’
Nonprofit corporations follow the same naming conventions.
How are business licenses obtained in Alaska?
Alaska requires businesses, including sole proprietorships and general partnerships, to have a business license. Navigate to the Division of Corporations, Business & Professional Licensing to apply for the business license.
How long does a reserved name last?
Business owners may reserve names if they are not ready to incorporate them yet. A reserved name expires in 120 days.
Do I need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
If a business has employees, it must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). However, banks and loan companies might require LLCs and sole proprietors without employees to obtain a FEIN. We can obtain the FEIN for you, or a business can apply for the FEIN itself.
Do I have to have a registered agent?
Yes. All businesses must have a registered agent. The registered agent must be someone who is in the office during all business hours to accept legal documents, including service of process and documents from the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Corporations, and other state agencies.
Do Alaska businesses have to file an annual report?
No. Alaska businesses must file a biennial report (every other year) instead. To file a biennial report for a business, navigate to the Division of Corporations biennial report page. Enter the business entity number or the business name to start filing.
How does a business find liens levied against it?
Navigate to the Division of Corporation’s UCC filing search page. Enter the business name to search for liens against the business.
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