How to Do a Business Name Search in Massachusetts
A Massachusetts business name search is an essential step in forming a Massachusetts LLC or corporation. It ensures that your business name does not resemble that of an existing Massachusetts LLC or corporation.
To look up and search for a business name in the state of Massachusetts, you can follow these steps:
- Visit the official website of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Their website provides access to various business-related services and information.
- On the website, locate the “Business Entity Search” or “Corporate Search” function. This feature allows you to search for registered businesses within the state.
- Enter the name you want to search for in the provided search box. It’s recommended to enter specific keywords or the complete name for more accurate results.
- Click on the search button or similar option to initiate the search. The system will then generate a list of businesses matching your search criteria.
- Review the search results to find the desired business name. The results may include additional details such as the entity type, registration status, and contact information.
Here are some links to help you get started with searching for a business name in Massachusetts:
- Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth – Corporations Division: Website: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/cor/
- Business Entity Search: Search Tool: https://corp.sec.state.ma.us/corp/corpsearch/corpsearchinput.asp
These links will provide you with access to the official resources needed to search for business names in Massachusetts. Remember to double-check the information provided on the official website for the most accurate and up-to-date results.
Common Wealth of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Entity Name Search and Reservation
A corporate name cannot be identical to one of an existing corporation, registered entity, or business name that has been reserved by another person. You can apply for name reservation if you want to reserve a corporate title before you file the incorporation documents.
You must follow these steps to reserve corporate names:
- Send an application to the Corporations Section of the Commonwealth.
- A $30 filing fee is required.
If the secretary is satisfied that you have the required corporate name, he will hold the name for you for 60 days. You can request an extension for the reservation within 60 days for a $30 fee.
A preliminary search is usually done to check name availability.
Search by Name
These steps will guide you through the process of searching the entity database.
- Go to the search page.
- Check the box that corresponds to the entity name search.
- Enter the company name that you wish to search.
- Select the type of search you want to perform.
- Choose “Search corporations”
You will get a variety of results when you query the entity. To find out more about any entity, click on its name to visit the information page. This page will provide all information about the chosen entity. This page will allow you to see filings, request certificates, and perform a new search.
Click on the “Search by entity Name” option. In the “Enter name” field, enter the LLC name. When entering the name, do not include the word “LLC”. If possible, you should also leave out punctuation. Capitalization is not necessary. Change the “Search type” setting to “Begins With.”
You don’t have to enter the entire name. Instead, you can just enter the first one or two words. This will allow you to see any similar results. If you want to use “Johnny Apple Farm”, just type “johnny” instead.
You can also try entering more letters than the first word to make your search even more comprehensive. To search for “Printing Solutions LLC”, type “print” and you will get the results.
You can set the results to display 100 pages of items, then click on “Search Corporations”.
If no records are found, this means that your preferred name is not available.
Your proposed business name can be used if the names in the results are not similar to yours (meaning people are unlikely to mistake your business for any of the listed entities).
If the name you searched is listed in the search results exactly the way you intended, it means your name is unavailable. You will need to look for a new name. If you see a name that is identical to yours in the search results, your name will not be available. You’ll need to create a new name.
Search the Massachusetts Name Database
- Visit the Business Entity Search Page of the Corporations Division.
- You might try searching for your name with several variations.
- Enter the name you want to register and perform a search. Print the search results and keep them for your records.
- To find names that are similar to yours, don’t forget to do a partial search.
Search by Individual Name
A search can be done with the individual’s name, such as the name of an officer or director of an entity. This process is very similar to the entity search.
- Go to the search page, and check the box that corresponds to individual name search.
- Continue by entering the name of the person.
- Select the type of search that you wish to do and then click the “search corporations” button.
Based on your query, you’ll receive a list of names. You can select the entity name that you wish to view more information.
You will find all information on the chosen entity on the information page. You will be able to see a complete list of filings, request certificates, or conduct a new search.
1. Trademark Search
When searching for a business name, it’s important to note that availability doesn’t necessarily mean the name is free to use if it’s already a registered trademark.
To avoid potential complications down the line, it’s wise to conduct a thorough trademark search using the Trademark Electronic Search System before finalizing a business name.
2. Choose a Registered Agent
After you have chosen an LLC name that is distinctive and unique, you can now choose your LLC’s Registered Agent.
3. Check if the Domain Name is Available
To check if a domain name is available, you can follow these steps:
- Go to a domain registrar website, such as GoDaddy.com or Namecheap.com.
- In the search bar on the homepage, type in the domain name you want to check.
- Click on the search button to see if the domain name is available or not.
- If the domain name is available, you will be prompted to purchase it. If it’s not available, the registrar will suggest some alternative options or you can try a different domain name.
It’s a good idea to check the availability of multiple domain name options as your first choice may already be taken.
Additionally, if you are considering registering a domain name for your business, make sure to also check for any existing trademarks that may conflict with your chosen domain name.
4. Check if Social Media Name is Available
To check if a social media name is available for a new business, you can follow these steps:
- Start by choosing a social media platform where you would like to create an account for your business. Some of the popular options include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok.
- Once you have selected the platform, go to the sign-up page and try to create an account using your desired social media name.
- If the name is already taken, the platform will display an error message indicating that the name is not available. In this case, you may need to consider alternative names for your social media account.
- If the name is available, the platform will allow you to create an account using that name.
- It’s important to note that just because a social media name is available, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s free to use. You should still do your due diligence to ensure that the name is not already a registered trademark or being used by another business in your industry.
5. Register Massachusetts Business Entity
When you complete the required documents for filing a new business entity, you then register your business and business name with the state. The state of Massachusetts will either approve your business name or reject it.
If you hire a good LLC service like Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness or Incfile, these LLC services have business name tools available for you to do a quick search. I recommend using any of these 3 services to assist you with forming a new business. They can save you time and provide you with guidance through the formation process.
6. Register an Employer ID Number (EIN) With the IRS
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify businesses and other entities for tax purposes.
Here’s how you can get an EIN:
- Determine if you need an EIN: You’ll need an EIN if you have employees, operate your business as a corporation or partnership, file employment tax returns, have a Keogh plan, or are required to file any of the following tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
- Apply for an EIN: You can apply for an EIN online, by fax, by mail, or by phone. The quickest and easiest way is to apply online through the IRS website.
- Provide the necessary information: When applying for an EIN, you’ll need to provide your legal name, trade name (if applicable), business address, and the type of legal structure of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC).
- Wait for your EIN: If you apply online, you can receive your EIN immediately after completing the application. If you apply by fax or mail, it can take up to four weeks to receive your EIN.
Note that there is no fee to apply for an EIN. Once you receive your EIN, be sure to keep it safe and use it on all tax documents and forms.
7. Create a Brand Logo
Creating a business logo involves several steps. Here’s a general overview of the process:
- Define your brand: Before you start creating a logo, you need to define your brand’s personality, values, and mission. This will help you create a logo that accurately represents your brand.
- Determine the design style: Decide on the design style you want for your logo. Do you want it to be modern or classic, minimalistic or intricate, colorful or monochromatic? Consider your brand personality and target audience when making this decision.
- Choose the colors: Pick a color palette that reflects your brand personality and complements your design style. Colors have psychological meanings and can affect how people perceive your brand.
- Brainstorm ideas: Brainstorm several logo design concepts based on your brand personality, values, and mission. You can use online resources for inspiration or hire a professional logo designer to create a custom logo for you.
- Sketch your ideas: Once you have some logo design concepts, sketch them out on paper to visualize how they might look. This can help you narrow down your options and refine your ideas.
- Design the logo: Use a graphic design software program like Adobe Illustrator or Canva to create your logo design. Search on Fiverr for logo designs. Make sure it is scalable and can be used across different mediums.
- Get feedback: Share your logo design with colleagues, friends, or family to get feedback. This can help you refine your design further.
- Finalize the logo: Once you have incorporated feedback, finalize your logo design. Be sure to use high-quality images and files for your logo.
- Protect your logo: If you want to protect your logo, consider trademarking it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This will prevent others from using a similar logo and protect your brand’s identity.
8. Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan involves a comprehensive process that covers various aspects of your business, including the industry, market research, marketing and sales strategies, financial projections, and more. Here are some steps to guide you in writing a business plan and links to resources that can help you:
- Executive summary: This section provides a summary of your business plan, highlighting key information about your business, target market, products or services, and financial projections. It should be brief but comprehensive.
- Company description: This section describes your company’s mission, vision, values, and legal structure. It also includes information about the management team, business location, and history.
- Market analysis: This section provides a detailed analysis of your industry, target market, competition, and customer demographics. It also includes information about market trends and growth projections.
- Marketing and sales strategies: This section outlines your marketing and sales strategies, including branding, advertising, pricing, and distribution channels.
- Products and services: This section describes your products or services, their features and benefits, and how they will meet the needs of your target market.
- Financial projections: This section provides a detailed financial forecast for your business, including projected revenue, expenses, profits, and cash flow. It also includes a break-even analysis and funding requirements.
Here are some links to resources that can help you in writing a business plan:
- Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan, including templates and sample plans.
- SCORE: SCORE provides free business plan templates and guides, as well as mentoring and counseling services.
- Bplans: Bplans offers a wide variety of business plan templates, tools, and resources, including sample plans for different industries.
- LivePlan: LivePlan is a cloud-based software that provides business planning tools and templates, financial forecasting, and collaboration features.
- Canva: Canva offers a range of customizable business plan templates and design tools to help you create a professional-looking plan.
9. Open a Business Bank Account in Massachusetts
A bank account is generally required for a new Limited Liability Company (LLC) or corporation to separate personal finances from business finances and to establish a clear record of business transactions.
Having a separate bank account for your LLC will help you keep track of your business’s income and expenses, which will be useful for tax purposes, accounting, and financial management. It will also make it easier to accept payments from customers and pay bills, suppliers, and employees.
To open a bank account for your LLC, you will typically need to provide the following documents:
- Certificate of Formation: This is a legal document that shows that your LLC has been registered with the state.
- Operating Agreement: This document outlines the rules and procedures for running your LLC and is required by some banks.
- EIN (Employer Identification Number) Confirmation Letter: This is a letter from the IRS confirming your LLC’s tax identification number.
- Identification documents: You will need to provide personal identification documents, such as a driver’s license, passport, or state ID, and proof of address, such as a utility bill.
Note that the specific requirements for opening a bank account for an LLC may vary depending on the bank and state where you are located. It’s best to contact the bank you plan to use to inquire about their specific requirements.
Brian Wilson is the content manager and founder of LLC Radar.
Brian grew up in North Texas, just outside of Dallas, and has a bachelor’s degree in business journalism from Southern Methodist University. Since graduating from SMU, Brian has gained over 10 years of experience in business writing for several online publications.
Brian resides in Plano, Texas and he can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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