Indiana Business Name Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

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by LLC.org Team
Last updated: June 13th, 2024
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Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State, registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.

How to search for Indiana business names

Indiana makes searching for entity names easy. The Indiana Secretary of State (SoS) created a search tool that gives several ways to search for name availability, though the best way to find out if a business name is available is to search by business name. Search criteria should be the full business name. To find out if a business name is available, take the following steps.

  • Step 1: Navigate to the Indiana Secretary of State search tool.
  • Step 2: Ensure that the “Search by” function is set to ‘Contains.’ If a business owner uses ‘Exact Match,’ the system will not display similar names. A business name cannot be the same or similar to an active business name.
  • Step 3: Ensure that the radio button for ‘Business Name’ search type is selected.
  • Step 4: Enter the business name. You do not need to add an entity type, such as LLC or corporation.
  • Step 5: Leave all other fields empty.
  • Step 6: Click the “Search” button.

The system will display any businesses with the same or similar names. In addition to facing possible lawsuits, customers could end up at a competitor’s website if the names are too similar.

How to register a business name in Indiana

Once a business owner determines a business name is available:

  • Step 1: Navigate to the Indiana Secretary of State Business Services page.
  • Step 2: Click ‘Start a New Business.’
  • Step 3: The app will prompt the business owner to sign in. If you do not have an account, click “Don’t have an Access Indiana Account?” to create a new account.

Once the business sets up an account, it can log in to register the business name.

Indiana trademark/DBA name search

Indiana’s trademark search uses the same search function. However, you must take an additional step to find out if a trade name or assumed name is in use.

  • Step 1: Navigate to the Indiana Secretary of State search tool.
  • Step 2: Ensure that the “Search by” function is set to ‘Contains.’ If a business owner uses ‘Exact Match,’ the system will not display similar names. A business name cannot be the same or similar to an active business name.
  • Step 3: Ensure that the radio button for ‘Business Name’ is selected.
  • Step 4: Enter the business name. You do not need to add an entity type, such as LLC or corporation.
  • Step 5: In the “Advanced Search” section, click the drop-down menu for ‘Name Type.’
  • Step 6: Choose ‘Assumed Business Name.’
  • Step 7: Click the “Search” button.

Some states refer to an assumed name as a trade name or a fictitious name.

Indiana also requires sole proprietors and general partnerships to file assumed names with the county recorder instead of the Indiana Secretary of State.

If a business files a trademark or assumed name with the Indiana Secretary of State, the business is protected only at the state level. 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.

Navigate to a domain registry such as GoDaddy. Enter the domain name. If the business name XYZ Widgets is available at the Indiana Secretary of State, enter it as XYZWidgets. Review the search results. If the name is available, register the domain.

If a domain name is not available

If the name is not available as a dot-com but is available as a dot-net or another extension, we suggest that you use another name. Customers will confuse the two sites and could end up on a competitor’s site. Instead, use a different name if you want the domain name and business name to be the same. Or, just a business description. A business owner can also add a word to the domain name. For example, if XYZWidgets is unavailable, the business owner might consider IndianaXYZWidgets or BestXYZWidgets.

Check if the social media name is available

Check social media platforms for available names. Social media does not require business owners to pick names that are very different. However, you should ensure that the name is not close enough to cause customers confusion.

Simply enter the name in the search box. If no other individual or entity is using the name, set up an account immediately, as that is the only way to grab the name before someone else does.

Naming considerations for Indiana business entities

Indiana Statutes require business names to append words or phrases that describe the entity type to the business name.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not have to register their business entity names with the Indiana Secretary of State. They do have to register for sales tax, innkeeper’s tax, and several other taxes, if applicable to their business.

If either wishes to use an assumed name, they must register the assumed name with the county. If a sole proprietorship or general partnership wishes to register a logo, they may register it with the Indiana Secretary of State as a trademark.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)

Limited liability companies must include the words ‘limited liability company,’ ‘L.L.C.’ or ‘LLC.’

Limited partnerships

A limited partnership must include the words ‘limited partnership’ or ‘L.P.’ in its name. The name can only include the names of partners who are general partners.

If the partnership is a limited liability partnership, it must include ‘limited liability partnership,’ ‘L.L.P.’ or ‘LLP.’

Corporations

A corporation must add one of the following to its name:

  • Corporation.
  • Incorporated.
  • Company.
  • Limited.
  • Corp.
  • Inc.
  • Co.
  • Ltd.

A professional corporation must contain the words ‘Professional Service Corporation or Professional Corporation. It may use abbreviations of the words.

Nonprofit corporations are also required to use one of the above names or abbreviations.

FAQs

How are business licenses obtained in Indiana?

Indiana does not require businesses to have a comprehensive business license. Instead, each business has licenses based on location and the type of services or retail goods the business offers.

My business does not have employees. Do I have to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number?

No. However, if a business owner wants to open a bank account or take out credit in the business name, banks, and other entities might require the business owner to have a FEIN. We can obtain the FEIN for you, or you can visit the Internal Revenue Service’s website to apply for the FEIN yourself.

Does my business have to carry unemployment insurance?

All businesses with employees must carry unemployment insurance.

Does my business have to carry workers’ compensation?

Yes. All businesses must obtain workers’ compensation insurance if they have employees.

What does Indiana require if I want to hire teenagers?

In most cases, anyone between the ages of 14 and 17 years must obtain an Employment Certificate before any business can hire them. Teens who wish to work can obtain an Employment Certificate from the School Corporation where the minor attends school. Businesses, students, and parents can find more information by calling (317) 323-2655.

Does a business have to file an annual report?

No. Instead, the Indiana Secretary of State requires businesses to file an entity report every other year. If a business does not file the entity report, the state will administratively dissolve the business.

Does a business have to have a registered agent?

Yes. Any business registered with the Indiana Secretary of State must have a registered agent. The registered agent accepts service of process for lawsuits, documents from the Secretary of State, and other legal documents. The registered agent then forwards the documents to the business in a timely manner.

How do I find liens levied against my business?

Log into the business account at the Indiana Secretary of State to lookup UCC liens placed against the business.

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