Discover the process of conducting a Wisconsin business entity name search in our comprehensive guide.
Learn how to use the resources provided by the Wisconsin Secretary of State, understand state business laws, and ensure no trademark conflicts with the USPTO.
How to Search Business Entity Names in Wisconsin
To search for business name availability in the state of Wisconsin, you can follow these steps:
- Visit the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) website, which handles business registrations in the state: https://www.wdfi.org/.
- On the DFI website, navigate to the “Businesses” section or look for a specific page related to business name availability or registration.
- Look for a search tool or database provided by the DFI to check the availability of the business name you’re interested in. This tool allows you to search for existing business names and check if the name you want is already registered.
- Enter the desired business name into the search tool and initiate the search. The database will display any existing businesses with similar names or exact matches.
- Review the search results to see if the business name you want is already registered or if there are similar names that may cause confusion.
- If the name you want is not listed in the search results or is sufficiently distinct from existing businesses, it is likely available for registration. However, it’s advisable to consult with legal professionals or experts to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and to verify the availability of the name.
- If the name you want is already registered or deemed unavailable, you will need to choose an alternative name that is unique and not already in use.
Please note that while these steps provide a general overview, it’s essential to refer to the official Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions website for the most up-to-date and accurate information on business name availability in the state.
Business Name Search in Wisconsin: You can use the Wisconsin Business Entity search to find out if a preferred name for a business in Wisconsin is available.
You can also use this search to locate information about an existing business. Business owners can visit the Secretary-of-State (SOS) website to search for names and assist with administrative tasks.
Wisconsin Business Search for Name Availability
To form an LLC within Wisconsin, you must search the SOS website for names available.
You must follow specific guidelines when choosing a name to your LLC.
To find out if the name that you are interested in using is already being used by another company in the state, start with a search. Two businesses cannot have the same name in Wisconsin. It is important to verify that the URL for that name is available.
You will likely need it to create a website. You can purchase the domain name ahead of time if you are concerned about other people using it.
To search for name availability, visit the Financial Institutions section (DFI) website. Type your desired name into the search bar and perform a search. If you receive a message that the name is not being used by any other business, it can be used for your LLC.
Wisconsin Name Search by Business Entity
A name search can also be used to locate a business entity that is in existence.
- The legal status of the business (DIS-dissolved, etc.
- The address of the business
- The Registered Agent’s Address
- Filing history (date of the most recent annual reports)
This search allows business owners to find Certificates in Good Standing and submit required reports for their LLC.
You can search for a business entity on the SOS website by entering your Wisconsin business name, or an advanced search. To ensure accurate results, you should enter as much as possible of the name and as many keywords as possible when using the simple name search.
These results will give you a preview of information about the business, including:
- Name of the business
- Identification number (not EIN).
- Type of business (LLC PLLC or LP, etc.
- Date was incorporated
- Status current with the SOS
To view detailed information about the business, select the matching name. This includes everything above and any filing requirements.
You can search for the name of your business to view details about your LLC. Once you have found the right LLC, click on it to see details, file any reports, request certificates, and update information for your registered agent.
Information not available
The following information will not be found when you search online for a business entity:
- Employer Identification Numbers (EINs/FEINs)
- Names of the members of the LLC
- Numbers for the business
- Trademarks and DBAs (Tradenames).
- Information about state taxes
- Names of business owners
- Information about any partnership (GPs).
Year-End Corporate Filings
Remember that year-end reports filed for businesses are only effective for 90 days. A document that is filed before December 29 will become effective on January 1st, three days after it was filed. However, this will only occur if the document has been filed in its entirety.
A new effective date will be given if the document needs to be returned for revisions. Keep in mind, however, that offices will be closed for the holidays on New Year’s Day and December 25, 2018.
You can create an LLC, or any other type of organization (corporation or partnership), to change or create. For filing, you will need to contact
The Corporation Section of The Division of Corporate & Consumer Services within the DFI. This department will also be responsible for licensing any out-of-state companies that wish to do business in Wisconsin.
File Changes and Contact Information
The Department of Financial Institutions will not accept cash payments for filing or copy services but will accept personal checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders.
Although businesses can still visit the department to file their paperwork, they are encouraged to use this website to simplify the process and make filing more efficient.
Here are the contact details for the Department of Financial Institutions.
- Phone: (608)261-7577
- Address: Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions 201 W Washington Ave. Madison, WI 53703
- email: DFISecretary@wisconsin.gov
Register Your Wisconsin Business Name
Your LLC name can be reserved in Wisconsin for up 120 days before you register it. This allows you to prevent other businesses from registering the name until your turn.
You can make name reservations by mailing to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. The filing fee is $15.
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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin
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