In this post, we guide you through the step-by-step process of conducting a Virginia business entity name search using tools provided by the Virginia Secretary of State’s website.
We’ll also stress the significance of compliance with state business laws and checking for potential trademark conflicts with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Virginia Business Entity Name Search (Summary)
To search for business name availability in the state of Virginia, follow these steps:
- Go to the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s website at https://www.scc.virginia.gov/.
- Click on the “BASIC SEARCH” button under the “Business Entity Search” section on the homepage.
- Select “Name” under the “Search Type” dropdown menu.
- Enter the name you want to search for in the “Name” field.
- Select “Virginia” under the “Jurisdiction” dropdown menu.
- Click on the “Search” button.
The system will search for any existing business names that are similar or identical to the name you entered. If there are no matches, the name should be available for use. If there are matches, you may need to choose a different name or make adjustments to your chosen name.
Here is the direct link to the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Business Entity Search page: https://www.scc.virginia.gov/clk/bussrch.aspx
Note that this search only checks the availability of the name within the state of Virginia. It is also recommended to search for trademarks and domain names to ensure that the name is available for use in other contexts.
What is a Virginia Business Entity?
A Virginia business entity refers to a business that is formally registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Similar to other states, Virginia recognizes several types of business entities, each with its own advantages, limitations, and tax implications.
Here are some of the most common types:
- Sole Proprietorship: A business owned and run by one individual. The owner is personally responsible for all debts and obligations of the business.
- Partnership: A business where two or more people share ownership. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, including money, property, labor, or skill. In return, each partner shares in the profits and losses of the business.
- Corporation: This is a more complex type of business entity. It is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners (shareholders). Corporations offer strong protection to its owners from personal liability, but the cost to form a corporation is higher than other structures, and they require more extensive record-keeping and operational processes.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): A hybrid structure that combines the personal liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and operational flexibility of a partnership. The owners of an LLC are called members, which may be individuals, corporations, other LLCs, and foreign entities.
- Nonprofit Organization: An organization that is centered around a cause or mission, rather than the pursuit of profit. While they can earn profits, they must be cycled back into the organization’s mission. Nonprofits can apply for tax-exempt status.
Each of these business entities has different requirements for registration in Virginia. For example, to form an LLC in Virginia, you would need to file Articles of Organization with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and comply with other state-specific requirements.
|The Virginia.gov site maintains a database of corporations that are registered in the state of Virginia.|
Virginia LLC Name Search
The first step in registering a business in Virginia is to conduct a Virginia Business Search. To ensure that your business name is not being used by other businesses in the state, conduct a search on the Virginia Secretary of State Database.
Before you choose your business name, it is up to you to do your research and verify that there are no existing entities in Virginia.
What Business Entities Must Use Virginia Secretary of State Name Look?
If you’re about to start one of these types of companies, you will need to do a Virginia Secretary Of State Name Search.
- Limited company
- Trust your business
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Liability Partnership
You can use the name availability tool to search for the type of entity you want to register and the business name to find the name that you are looking for. You could also search for the SCC ID of the company to see if the business name has been reserved.
How to conduct a Virginia Secretary of State Entity Search
- Click “search” on the Virginia Secretary Of State’s page for business information.
- You can search for the name of the corporation that you are interested in founding and add the name of your chosen name.
- To get the best results for your name search in Virginia, make sure to include as many keywords as possible.
- The following list contains the names of the companies. This list will provide basic information such as type, name, and SCC identification number. It also shows the status of each business.
- Click on the blue link below the company’s ID# name to find out if the entity has been registered with the Secretary.
- Check out the data page for entities of interest. You will find general information on the entity, such as the state in which it was incorporated, the SCC ID, and the date of incorporation. You can also find out who the registered agents are and whether share release authorization has been granted. You will also find the principal office address on this information page.
- You can view previous filings on the right sidebar of this information page and find out more about the incorporation.
- You can view all documents and annual reports that have been filed once you’ve found the corporation. If you have reserved the business name and decided to file for an organization, you can file your reports online, provided that you are the representative or owner.
Registry of LLC names
Choose your LLC name. Make sure it is distinguishable from any other business entries that you have found during your database research. You should not mention that you are a corporation when you create an LLC. You are prohibited from using the following words in your company name:
You must ensure that your business name is easy to spell when you make a decision about it. This will allow people to find your business easily. To clearly identify your legal form, you’ll need to either add “LLC” to the name of your LLC or “L.L.C.” to it.
How to reserve your Virginia business name
You will need to first reserve your LLC name for $120 if you wish to register it. This is according to the SS 13.1-631 and SS 13.1-830 provisions of Virginia’s Code of Virginia. Reserving your name does not mean you have been incorporated. You must still apply to reserve your name, and register for insurance and taxation.
Download the application form, and then send it with a $10 filing fee to the address below:
- Clerk of the State Corporation Commission. P.O. Box 1197, Richmond, VA 23218-1197
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 Virginia 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 Virginia 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. 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 Virginia
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