Learn how to perform a Washington business entity name search. Discover how to employ the online search database of the Washington Secretary of State, understand state business laws, and avert trademark conflicts with the USPTO
How Do I Look Up an LLC in Washington? (Summary)
To look up an LLC in or any business entity in Washington, you can follow these steps:
- Go to the website of the Washington Secretary of State’s office at https://www.sos.wa.gov/.
- Click on the “Corporations & Charities” tab.
- Click on the “Search for a Business” link.
- Enter the name of the LLC you are looking for in the “Business Name” field.
- You can also search by the UBI number, registered agent name, or by advanced search options.
- Click the “Search” button.
- If the LLC is registered in Washington, its information should appear in the search results. You can view its status, registered agent, and other relevant details.
What is a Washington Business Entity?
A Washington State business entity is any type of business organization that is legally recognized and registered to operate within the jurisdiction of Washington State, United States.
Like any other U.S. state, Washington State recognizes various types of business entities, which can range from sole proprietorships and partnerships to corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs).
Here are some common types of Washington State business entities:
- Sole Proprietorship: An individual owner conducts business as a sole proprietor. This is the simplest form of business entity. The owner has unlimited liability for all business debts and obligations.
- General Partnership (GP): Two or more people conduct business together as a partnership. The partners share personal responsibility for all business debts and obligations.
- Limited Partnership (LP): This is a business structure that includes general partners and limited partners. General partners manage the business and are personally liable for business debts, while limited partners are only liable up to their investment amount.
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): This is a partnership that gives all partners some degree of limited personal liability.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): This is a business entity that combines the limited liability benefits of a corporation with the taxation benefits of a partnership. LLCs in Washington are governed by the Washington Limited Liability Company Act.
- Corporation (Inc. or Corp.): This is a legal entity separate from its shareholders, offering them limited liability. It can be a C corporation (taxed separately from its owners) or an S corporation (profits and losses are passed through to the owners’ personal tax returns).
- Nonprofit Corporation: This is a legal entity created for purposes other than making a profit, such as charitable, educational, scientific, or religious purposes. Nonprofits can apply for tax-exempt status.
WA Secretary of State Business Name Search
For a business to operate in Washington State, it needs to be registered with the Washington Secretary of State’s office, which manages business filings and records. The registration process and requirements can vary based on the type of business entity.
If you need additional assistance or have any questions, you can contact the Washington Secretary of State’s Corporations Division directly for help.
|Search for business names in Washington State
The Washington SOS website allows you to search for Washington businesses.
Search Business Names in Washington State
Before you decide on a name for your LLC in Washington, conducting a WA LLC Search is important. Before you begin searching for a name, make sure you do your research.
Washington law requires that all LLCs have unique names and comply with state requirements. The LLC name must contain “limited liability company” (or one of the abbreviations LLC or L.L.C.).
Washington State LLC Lookup Guide
Some words cannot be used in a company name. This will require additional paperwork. A licensed person such as a lawyer, doctor or other professional may be required to join the LLC. These words could include:
- An attorney
The state has a list of words that cannot be used in the name an LLC. These words are banned because they can cause confusion among federal agencies or states. These words could include:
- Secret Service
An LLC is not a corporation so the name of your LLC cannot include the words “corporation”, “incorporated” or any abbreviations.
An LLC name must also be distinguishable. This means that it must be different from any other business registered in Washington.
A business name will not be distinguishable if it has minor modifications. Changes to the grammar or identifiers will not make a business name distinguishable.
- Some examples of designators include LLC, Inc., L.L.C., and Corp
- Possessive vs. plural vs. singular grammar
- The ampersand symbol is used and vs.
- Spelling numbers out vs. using symbols
- Modifying or adding punctuation
- Use of “a” vs. “an” vs. “the”
To ensure that your business name is not already registered, perform a search at the Washington State website. Before you begin the registration process, make sure that the domain name is still available for you to reserve. You may be able to purchase the domain name if you don’t have a business plan.
Washington SOS Entity Name Search
Once you are familiar with the requirements to create an LLC in Washington, you can begin your search for business entities using the search tool on the Secretary-of-State website.
This website provides information to entrepreneurs and business owners about how they can use the search engine to locate Washington business entities.
This online functionality can be used to search for business purchase documents, general information about business entities, and check the availability of a particular business name.
Basic inquiries can be made using the unified business ID (UBI), or the business name. You can also use advanced criteria to reduce the number of results.
Search by Entity Name
To search for an existing business entity, the first step is to visit the Washington Corporations Search Page. Enter the name you wish to use in the box marked “OrganizationName” and click search. To filter your search results, you can change the default option to “Name starts with”.
You should not include punctuation or business designations, such as LLC and L.L.C. Search for the word “L.L.C.” You don’t need to worry about capitalization in the search bar.
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 Washington StateBusiness 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 Washington Statewill 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 Washington State
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: email@example.com