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Current US Business Name Requirements Explained

There are over 30 million small businesses in the United States, and this number is growing faster than ever. With such a vast amount of new enterprises comes an equally large volume of business names that have been created and claimed already. As a result, finding a name for a business requires innovation and creativity. The name of a business is the foundation for its image and the message that will be conveyed to consumers.

This is why entrepreneurs need to understand the importance of putting a lot of thought into the naming process. Another reason much research and effort needs to go into the name is that it is a complex process with regard to legalities and logistics.

When creating a business name, it is vital to keep in mind that there are numerous rules and regulations that need to be followed on a federal, state, and local level. If these rules are not adhered to, then the government will likely reject the use of the name—resulting in inevitable consequences. In this article, we will look at the current naming requirements in the United States.

Different Ways to Register a Business Name

Once entrepreneurs have settled on a business name that they like, they will then need to begin the process of protecting it. There are four different ways that business owners can go about registering their business name. Each way will serve a different purpose, and some may be a legal requirement depending on the business structure and location.

Entity name– An entity name is able to protect the name of a business at a state level. However, this depends on the structure and location of the company. Some states may require the business to register a legal entity name. In most cases, the entity name registration provides protection for a business—preventing any other entity in the state from operating under the same name. It should be noted that there are exceptions relating to state and business structure.

Doing business as (DBA) name– Filing a DBA will allow a business to conduct operations under a name that differs from its legal name. This will depend on where the company is incorporated; the DBA can also be referred to as the trade name, an assumed name, or a fictitious name.

Domain name– Registering a domain name is the same as creating a website address or URL. Once a domain name is created, no one else will be able to use it, and it is a good way to protect a brand’s online presence.

Trademark–Trademarks are able to protect the name of a business, services, and goods at a national level. They prevent those in the same or similar industry in the country from using trademarked names. Facing trademark infringement lawsuits can also prove costly.

Current US Business Name Requirements Explained

Legal Guidelines for Registering a Business Name

  • Follow the naming rules for the relevant business structure– An LLC, for instance, may be required to include the words “limited liability company” or “limited company” or one of its abbreviations–LLC, L.L.C., LC, or L.C.
  • Should not include prohibited words– The name cannot include any words that could cause confusion between the company and a government agency such as the FBI, Treasury, or State Department.
  • Must be unique–The name must be distinguishable from any business that already is in existence in the state. In some cases, this includes reserved names.
  • Additional paperwork for restricted words– if the business name includes restricted words such as Bank, Attorney, University, then additional paperwork may need to be filed, and a licensed individual may be required to be a part of the business.

Final Thought

After all of these necessary factors are taken into consideration, entrepreneurs will be able to create and own the business name of their choosing. It is important that the name is unique and aligns with the business’s aims and goals– while still following the guidelines that have been established by the federal, state, and local authorities of the region that the company is incorporated. Business owners will be able to operate without any hassles and can thereafter focus on building the business name into a well-known brand.


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