Business Name Search in Pennsylvania
Selecting the right name is an essential first step for your Pennsylvania LLC, requiring you to ensure the name’s availability. This process is vital to avoid infringing on existing business names and intellectual property rights within the state.
Our Pennsylvania LLC name search guide offers essential tips on checking LLC name availability in Pennsylvania, reservation, and registration, helping you secure a unique and compliant business identity efficiently.
How Do I Look Up an LLC in Pennsylvania? (Summary)
To look up an LLC or other business entities in Pennsylvania, you can follow these steps:
- Go to the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Business Name Search website, and visit the Business Entity Search page to check whether your business name is available.
- Enter the name of the LLC you want to look up in the “Business Entity Name” field. You can also enter the entity ID or the registered agent’s name if you have that information.
- Select “Limited Liability Company” from the “Entity Type” dropdown menu.
- Click on the “Search” button.
- The search results will show a list of LLCs that match the search criteria. You can click on the name of the LLC to view its details, including its status, registration date, registered agent information, and more.
If you’re unable to find the LLC you’re looking for using the online search tool, you can contact the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations for further assistance.
Pennsylvania Department of State
Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
401 North Street
206 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Phone: (717) 787-1057
What is a Pennsylvania Business Entity?
A Pennsylvania business entity refers to a business that is legally recognized and registered to operate within the state of Pennsylvania.
The process and regulations for setting up and running a business entity in Pennsylvania are managed by the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
The different types of business entities that can be formed in Pennsylvania include:
- Sole Proprietorship: This is the simplest form of business entity, owned and operated by one person. There is no legal distinction between the owner and the business, meaning the owner is personally liable for the business’s debts and obligations.
- Partnership: This includes General Partnerships (GP), Limited Partnerships (LP), and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP). A partnership is a business with two or more owners who share the profits and liabilities of the business.
- Corporation: This is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners (shareholders). Corporations provide the most protection to owners from personal liability, but they are more complex to set up and have more regulatory, tax, and reporting requirements. This includes C Corporations, S Corporations, and Nonprofit Corporations.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): This is a hybrid entity combining the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership. Owners (known as members) are shielded from personal liability, and profits can be passed through directly to the owners without being taxed at the business level first.
Each of these entities has its own benefits and drawbacks, depending on the specifics of the business situation, and each involves a different process for registration, operation, and taxation.
Pennslvania Department of State Name Search
To establish a business entity in Pennsylvania, you typically need to register with the Department of State. This may involve filing certain documents (such as Articles of Incorporation for a corporation or a Certificate of Organization for an LLC), paying a filing fee, and meeting other requirements.
How to search Pennsylvania business names
Searching for Pennsylvania businesses is done through the PA Dept of State Business Filings webite.
Pennsylvania Corporations and LLCs are searchable by the following criteria:
What is a Pennsylvania Secretary of State Business Search?
The Business Division of Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State can perform a Pennsylvania Secretary of State Business Check.
The Secretary of State for Pennsylvania’s Business Division manages the establishment and management of the registry for each business entity registered in the state.
The registry includes information about all businesses that are registered in the state. This includes Limited Companies, Limited Liability Partners, Limited Liability Companies and Corporations, as well as Limited Partnerships.
The Secretary of State in Pennsylvania also sets policies for corporations and business entities. This position must also oversee all commercial activity within the state.
The information in the database includes the expiration date, the mailing address, and any other details that could be of use to a citizen. The search engine makes it easy and efficient for concerned citizens to locate information in the business database.
A citizen who knows the name and address of the business can find relevant information about it.
Search and Look Up Pennsylvania Corporations
The Secretary of State in Pennsylvania is also known by the title Secretary of Commonwealth. The Secretary of State’s position was created under the state Constitution. It has been held since then. Carol Aichele is currently the Secretary of State. This role involves the management of many tasks.
The Secretary of State of Pennsylvania has the responsibility of maintaining the Great Seal of Pennsylvania. The Great Seal of Pennsylvania is used to authenticate and verify government and legal documents before they are sent to the Governor for his signature. The public record and archives are also managed by the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania.
Looking for Pennsylvania LLC Names?
To form a limited liability company (LLC), you must first search for the name of the LLC you want to use. Search in the Pennsylvania Business Entities Database to see all current business names.
How to Search for Pennsylvania Entities
The next page will contain a list all the business names that include the keywords. To view more information, click on the number or name of the business entity.
Click on the name to see additional information. This will bring up helpful information about that business. You can choose to buy additional certified documents during step 3.
How to use the Pennsylvania Business Entity Search tool
You will see fewer results if you search too narrowly. To ensure you get a complete list of possible matches, limit your search to the part of the business name that you are interested in. The state may reject your application if a registered business already has confusingly similar names.
When you search, don’t focus on the designation (“LLC”, L.L.C., etc.). Any punctuation within the business name can be ignored, including commas, periods, hyphens, apostrophes, and hyphens. You can use either lowercase letters or uppercase letters when performing a search. Searches in Pennsylvania are not allowed to use capital letters.
How to determine the search results
If you don’t find any businesses similar to yours after you have searched, the business name you want is available for you. The result will show the message “No results for your search term,” and the Pennsylvania LLC name of the business you searched for is still available. It’s unique enough to be different from other names.
If the search results show an identical or similar LLC name, it is important to think of a new variation or a new name. Otherwise, your request will not be approved. If the search results include a name that is similar or identical to what you are looking for, your business name will be rejected. You will need to find a new name.
The $125 non-refundable LLC Filing fee in Pennsylvania is $125
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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania will either approve your business name or reject it.
If you hire a good LLC service like Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness or Bizee, 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. 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 Pennsylvania
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.
Pennsylvania LLC Name Search FAQ
What is the main objective of searching for a business entity name in Pennsylvania? The primary objective of conducting a business entity name search in Pennsylvania is to verify that your desired business name isn’t already taken or too closely resembles an existing entity’s name. This is a critical step to ensure your business adheres to state regulations and maintains a distinct identity.
Where can I carry out a business entity name search in Pennsylvania? You can perform a business entity name search through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Corporation Bureau. They provide an online business name search tool, allowing you to check if your proposed business name is unique and available.
Does Pennsylvania require a fee for a business name availability search? No, performing a preliminary search for business name availability through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s online database is generally free. However, requesting detailed reports or specific business documents may involve additional fees.
What should I do if my chosen business name is already registered in Pennsylvania? If your preferred business name is already in use, you’ll need to select an alternative that is unique and meets Pennsylvania’s business naming criteria. It’s advisable to prepare a list of backup names for this scenario.
How can I reserve a business name in Pennsylvania before registering my entity? Pennsylvania allows you to reserve a business name for a certain period before formal registration. This is done by submitting a name reservation request and a fee to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
What guidelines must I follow when naming my business entity in Pennsylvania? In Pennsylvania, your business name must be distinct from existing registered entities. The name must also be suitable for the business entity type (e.g., LLC, Corp) and adhere to specific state naming regulations. Prohibited or restricted terms are outlined in the state’s guidelines.
How do I ensure my selected business name is compliant in Pennsylvania? To ensure your business name is compliant with Pennsylvania laws, thoroughly review the naming rules provided by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Additionally, consider a trademark search to avoid potential conflicts.
What are the next steps after finding an available name in Pennsylvania? Once you confirm an available business name in Pennsylvania, the next step is to proceed with registering your business. This involves filing the appropriate formation documents and paying any related fees with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Can I operate my business under a different name than the registered one in Pennsylvania? Yes, in Pennsylvania, you can operate under a ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA) name. However, this name must also be registered with the state and should not infringe on other registered business names.
How up-to-date is the Pennsylvania business entity name database? The Pennsylvania business entity name database is regularly updated to reflect new registrations and changes. To get the most current information, it’s recommended to perform your search close to your planned business registration date.
How can I verify if an LLC is registered in Pennsylvania?
To check if your business name appears, you can use the Pennsylvania Business Entity Search Tool.
Do I have to name my LLC after me?
Although there is no prohibition against naming your LLC after yourself (most experts recommend against it).
An advantage of an LLC is that you can choose a different business name, which can make your business sound more professional.
What words are prohibited in a Pennsylvania LLC?
It is not possible to include words in business names that suggest that the company is a bank or financial institution, or that it is affiliated with a local or state government agency.
You may also need to get approval from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs or the Department of Education.
What is a brand?
A brand name is a name that a company gives to a product line or product. It can be the exact same as the company name, or something else.
Do I need to include LLC in the name?
What do I need to do to renew my Pennsylvania business name?
Pennsylvania does not require LLCs to renew their names.
Is it possible for my business name to be different from the Pennsylvania LLC name?
Some companies prefer to operate under a different name than their legal name. You can call this a “doing business as” (DBA) or a fictitious Pennsylvania name.
LLC fictitious names can be filed with the Department of State in Pennsylvania.
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: email@example.com