Louisiana Business Name Search
Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State (SoS), registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.
How to search Louisiana business names
Before a business can register a business entity name, it must search the Louisiana Secretary of State for name availability. If the name search generates an exact match, or if the search results show names that are too similar, the prospective business owner cannot use the name.
Louisiana makes it easy to search for business names so that a business owner can determine whether the name he wants is available.
Step 1: Navigate to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s business filings page search tool.
Step 2: Select ‘Search by Entity Name.’ If the radio button is already selected—it may be, by default—continue to the next step.
Step 3: Enter the business name in the box for ‘Entity Name.’
Step 4: Complete the CAPTCHA.
Step 5: Click the ‘Search’ button.
The system will display exact matches and similar names. Go through the list to ensure that the similar names are not too similar. If you try to register a name that is an exact match or that is too similar to another business’s name, the Louisiana Secretary of State could reject your business name filing.
Some business owners might file intellectual property in Louisiana in the form of service marks, trademarks, and trade names. The business owner must complete the Transmittal Information form and Application to Register Trademark or Service Mark form.
Return the forms with a $75 filing fee to Commercial Division, Secretary of State, PO Box 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125. If you register the intellectual property with the State of Louisiana, you only have exclusive rights in Louisiana.
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.
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.
Check if the domain name is available
Businesses with an internet presence have the opportunity to sell their products and services throughout the country or even internationally. Picking a domain name should be easy, but it doesn’t always happen that way.
Domain registries do not follow the same rules as the states. Thus, another individual or entity could be using a business name that a prospective business owner chooses.
If a domain name is not available
In this case, the business owner could:
- Choose another entity name that is available with the SoS and the domain registry if the name is not already registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
- Use a name that aptly describes the business owner’s business.
- Use a name that is similar to the business name. However, you shouldn’t make the name too similar as the risk of customers ending up on a competitor’s site is very high.
To determine name availability for a domain, visit one of the many domain registries, such as GoDaddy. Enter the business name in the search box.
If the results display an exact match for a dot-com but not a dot-net, a business owner could use the business name with the dot-net extension. However, the business runs a very high risk of sending its customers to the competitor’s website.
We recommend choosing another business name, if possible, or using a name that describes the business.
Check if the social media name is available
Checking for a social media name is also as simple as entering the business name in the search box on the various platforms. As with domain names, someone else could be using the business name a business owner chooses.
If another individual or business entity is already using the name, the business owner could use a name to describe the business or create a name that is similar. For example, if someone is using ABC Widgets, a business owner might create a social media platform name like BestABCWidgetsLA.com.
How to register a Louisiana business entity
Before a business owner files a business name, she must choose an entity type. If a business owner is unsure which entity to choose, she should contact a business attorney. Factors that might affect a business owner’s choice might include how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes each entity and whether the entity protects a business owner’s personal assets from business creditors and lawsuits.
For example, income from corporations is taxed at the corporate level, then again on the business owner’s personal tax returns as the individual’s income. Limited liability companies are taxed on the business owners’ personal tax returns.
Corporations and limited liability companies provide personal asset protection via the corporate veil, but sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not enjoy such protections.
Naming considerations for Louisiana business entities
Louisiana requires business owners to use certain naming conventions depending on which entity the business owner chooses.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not need to register with the Louisiana Secretary of State as long as they use the business owners’ surnames as the business name. However, a sole proprietorship or partnership can register for a trade name—a ‘doing business as‘ name, or DBA.
The business owner should file the DBA with the local Clerk of Court’s office and direct any questions to the Parish Clerk of Court.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
Business owners that choose to incorporate as a limited liability company must append one fo the following to the end of the business name:
- Limited liability company.
Business owners of corporations must append one of the following to their names:
Nonprofit corporations follow the same naming conventions.
A professional corporation must use the full name of the business owner or of at least one of the voting shareholders as listed on the license issued by the Louisiana State Board of Destistry. The name may include “Limited” or “Ltd.” It must endd with one of the following:
- A Professional Dental Corporation.
- A Professional Corporation.
- A Dental Corporation.
How are business licenses obtained in Louisiana?
Louisiana makes it easy to determine which business licenses a business might need. Create an account, select ‘Getting Started,’ then select ‘Produce a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.’
Does my Louisiana business need a registered agent?
Yes, if the business is registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State. A registered agent ensures that the business remains in compliance with the Secretary of State and accepts documents from the SoS and other legal documents, including service of process for lawsuits.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
Yes, if your business has employees, you must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). Additionally, banks, creditors, and some vendors might require you to obtain a FEIN, even if the business does not have employees. A prospective business owner can apply for the FEIN herself, or we can obtain a number for you.
How do I check for liens against my business or against business assets?
Create an account with the Louisiana Secretary of State to search for UCC filings. Enter the business name as the search criteria to search UCC filings.
How do I get a copy of my business’ annual report?
Navigate to the business search page. Enter the entity name. Click on the ‘Details’ button for your company to review the latest annual report.
Does Louisiana require a business owner to reserve a name?
No. You should only reserve a name if you are worried about someone else registering the name before you are ready to register the name. Name reservations expire after 120 days.