How to Do a Business Name Search in Washington

Search for business names in Washington State

The Washington SOS website allows you to search for Washington businesses.

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.).

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:

  • Bank
  • University
  • 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
  • FBI
  • Treasury

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”

These two examples cannot be distinguished from each other:

  • 3 Brothers Consulting LLC vs. Three Brothers Consulting LLC
  • Jones Investments Inc. vs. Jones Investments, LLC
  • Larry, Moe, & Curly Services vs. Larry–Moe–Curly Services
  • Orange Orchards vs. Orange Orchards
  • Day & Night, LLC vs. Day and Night, LLC
  • The Print Shop, LLC vs. A Print Shop, LLC

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.


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