Business Name Search in North Carolina | A Comprehensive Guide

Conduct a Business Name Search in North Carolina

Conducting a business name search in North Carolina is an essential step for entrepreneurs and business owners in starting an LLC in North Carolina. A business name search helps you identify whether a desired business name is already in use or if it’s unique and available for registration. Additionally, it allows you to gather information on existing businesses, such as their registration details, legal status, and contact information.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you conduct a business name search in North Carolina. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Business Name Search?

Business name search in North Carolina is an essential step for entrepreneurs who want to start a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This search helps them to ensure that the name they have chosen is unique, available, and compliant with state laws. The process of searching for a business name in North Carolina involves using the North Carolina business registration system, which allows users to search for registered business names and check for name availability.

Additionally, entrepreneurs also need to check that their chosen name does not infringe on any existing trademarks or copyrights. Conducting a thorough name search helps to prevent legal and branding issues as well as build a strong brand image. In North Carolina, taking the time to properly search for a business name or trademark can help entrepreneurs to set their businesses up for future success. We reviewed some of the Trademark Services in North Carolina that will help you with your business name search.

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How to Conduct a Business Name Search in North Carolina

Before knowing why a business name is necessary, you should now conduct a business name search in North Carolina. Even in any different business structure, conducting a business name search takes time. However, with the help of the information listed in this article, you will get an easier option in finalizing your business name.

Step 1: Access the Business Entity Search Tool

The North Carolina Secretary of State website has a Business Center Search Tool to help you choose a name for your business. This tool can help you determine the uniqueness and availability of a name. Also, keeping a list of backup names is helpful so you can choose a last name after a few repetitions. You can also check out the North Carolina Secretary of State Business Registration Search to access the entity search tool.

Step 2: Perform the Search

On the North Carolina website, check the availability of the proposed business name. The search result will display information about similar businesses if the desired business name is already used. While searching, you can exclude using identifiers such as “LLC” to get more results from different business structures operating under the same name. Conduct extensive research using the provided filters before filing the name with the government.

If you want to register a Trademark in North Carolina, you can also conduct a trademark search on the United States Trademark Database. Check with the Patent and Trademark Office to see if the chosen name is already in use by someone else.

Choosing a Business Name in North Carolina

You now conducted a business search in North Carolina. With what you have searched and listed, you will choose the most suitable business name for your North Carolina business. When searching for a potential business name, follow these steps:

  1. Brainstorm Ideas: Begin by brainstorming a list of potential names that convey your business’s goals and values, and appeal to your target audience. Consider names that are easy to pronounce, spell, and remember.
  2. Be Descriptive But Not Limiting: Choose a name that gives an idea of what your business does or offers without being too specific or limiting future growth. For example, avoid using a specific location or product type in the name if you plan to expand your business or diversify your offerings.
  3. Check for Availability: Use the North Carolina Secretary of State’s business name search tool available at the link provided to check if your desired name is already in use by another registered business entity. Remember that the name should be distinguishable from others to avoid potential legal disputes and confusion.
  4. Consider Domain Name Availability: If you plan to have an online presence, check if the desired domain name is available for your website. Ideally, your domain name should match or closely resemble your business name for consistency and easy online recognition.
  5. Conduct a Trademark Search: To avoid infringing on any existing trademarks or intellectual property rights, conduct a thorough trademark search using the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This will help you identify any potential conflicts with registered or pending trademarks. You can access the North Carolina Trademark Search for more detailed information about trademark searches.
  6. Verify Name Requirements: Ensure your chosen name meets the specific naming requirements for your business type, such as including words like “LLC,” “Corp,” or “Ltd.,” if applicable. Refer to your North Carolina’s business naming guidelines for specific rules and restrictions.

By following these steps and considering the various factors in choosing a business name, you can create a distinct, memorable, and legally compliant name.

Meantime, In North Carolina, if you do not wish to file your business right away but want to hold the name that you have decided on, then you can reserve your business name for 120 days. You must file a name reservation application in the North Carolina Secretary of State by mail or online filing to keep the name.

The North Carolina Secretary of State will review your application and approve the name if it is available and not too similar to any other existing business name. If the name is approved, you will receive a reservation number and an approval letter. When filing the Articles of Organization in North Carolina, to form your LLC, you must include the reservation number.

After reserving an LLC name, you must still form the LLC by filing the Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Secretary of State. The LLC name, contact information, the names of the LLC’s members, and the name and address of the LLC’s Registered Agent must all be included in the Articles of Organization.

File your Articles of Organization online on the North Carolina Secretary of State Online Services page. You may also download the offline file of the name reservation form and submit it with the processing fee to North Carolina Secretary of State – The Secretary of State, Business Registration Division, P.O. Box 29622, Raleigh, NC 27626.

If you are planning to start an LLC in North Carolina, make sure that you choose a business name that is suitable for your business. It is best to hire a legal expert or an LLC Services that will guide you through the process.


How to File a DBA?

Filing North Carolina DBA (Doing Business As), a fictitious business name, trade name, or assumed name, allows you to operate your business under a different name than your legal name. The process for filing a DBA varies depending on the state or county of your business. You can select a unique and appropriate name for your business that complies with your North Carolina naming guidelines. Ensure the name is not misleading or confusingly similar to other businesses in your area. Afterward, you must search your North Carolina business name database to ensure another business does not already use your desired DBA name. Once you have confirmed the availability of your desired name, you will need to register your DBA with the appropriate North Carolina Secretary of State. 

The registration process typically involves completing an application form, providing the required information about your business, and paying a filing fee. The required information may include your legal business name, address, ownership structure, and the desired DBA name. North Carolina requires you to publish a notice of your DBA registration in a local newspaper to inform the public about your new business name. After the notice has been published for the required time, you may need to provide proof of publication to the North Carolina Secretary of State where you registered your DBA.

In North Carolina, there are two methods, by mail and in person, which costs around $26.

After registering your DBA, update your business records, marketing materials, contracts, and other documents to reflect your new business name. Don’t forget to consult your state or county’s specific DBA filing process, as requirements and procedures may vary.

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Importance of Business Name Search in North Carolina

Before researching how to conduct North Carolina business name search, you must know why having a business name is important. 

A business name is important for several reasons:

  • Legal Identity: The business name is the official legal identity of your North Carolina LLC, which distinguishes it from other businesses. It is a requirement when registering your North Carolina LLC with the North Carolina Secretary of State. This legal identity allows your North Carolina LLC to enter into contracts, open bank accounts, and engage in business activities under its own name.
  • Liability Protection: One of the primary purposes of forming an LLC is to separate the business’s liabilities from its owners’ personal assets. A distinct business name helps establish this separation, reinforcing the limited liability protection the North Carolina LLC structure provides.
  • Brand Identity and Recognition: A unique and memorable business name is crucial for building a strong brand identity and presence in the market. It helps customers recognize and remember your products or services and differentiate your North Carolina LLC from competitors.
  • Legal Compliance: When registering an LLC, you must ensure that another registered entity within your jurisdiction does not already use the business name. Choosing a unique and available name is essential for legal compliance and avoiding potential disputes with other businesses.
  • Professionalism and Credibility: A well-chosen business name can convey professionalism and credibility, boosting customer trust and confidence in your products or services. An unprofessional or confusing name, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect and deter potential customers.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Your North Carolina LLC’s business name plays a significant role in your marketing and advertising efforts. A catchy, memorable name can make your advertising campaigns more effective and increase the likelihood of word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Online Presence and SEO: A chosen business name can improve your North Carolina LLC’s online presence and help customers find you more easily through search engines. A strategic business name can contribute to better online visibility and higher search rankings by incorporating relevant keywords and optimizing your website for search.

The importance of a business name search lies in ensuring its uniqueness and legal compliance and avoiding potential conflicts with other businesses. This process helps to establish a distinctive brand identity, protect intellectual property rights, and maintain a professional reputation in the market.

Is it Possible for Two Businesses to Have the Same Name?

Under certain conditions, two businesses that do not compete with each other may share the same name. However, you may be trying to impose on the trademark of the other competing business if either of the following occurs:

  • The company operates in the same geographical area, or
  • The company name is federally registered.

Furthermore, suppose a company name is considered famous or well-known, for example, Dior or Chanel. In that case, it has broader protection, and no other business, regardless of industry or location, can usually use the mark.

It’s best to avoid using another company’s name to avoid future legal issues. 

Can I Sell or Buy Someone Else’s Trademark?

Before selling your trademark, you must incorporate it into a business. A trademark cannot be sold if it is only registered as a placeholder for future use. The trademark must be visible on all products you sell.

You can buy another person’s trademark (known as “trademark assignment”), but the process is legally complex and costly. To purchase an existing trademark, you must purchase all company assets, product lines, or the entire business associated with the trademark.

What Should I Do If My Desired Business Name Is Already In Use?

If your desired business name is already in use, consider modifying it to make it unique and distinguishable from the existing business. You can also explore alternative names that still convey the essence of your business and comply with state naming requirements.

What Should I Do After Finding an Available Business Name?

After finding an available business name, you can proceed with the necessary steps to register your business with North Carolina Secretary of State office. This may include filing formation documents, such as Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation, and paying the required filing fees. Additionally, consider registering your business name as a trademark to protect your brand and prevent others from using a confusingly similar name.


How can I search for available business names in North Carolina?
You can search through the Business Entities search feature on the North Carolina Secretary of State website.
Does North Carolina have any regulations or restrictions on the names of a business?
Yes, there are specific guidelines for business names in North Carolina, including the exclusion of certain words and phrases.
Can I reserve a business name in North Carolina before registering my business?
Yes, North Carolina allows the reservation of a business name for up to 120 days before registering the business.
How much does it cost to search for a business name in North Carolina?
Searching for a business name on the North Carolina Secretary of State website is free.
If my chosen business name is already registered in another state, can I still use it in North Carolina?
No, you cannot use a business name already registered in another state unless you have permission from the business owner.
Is there a deadline for me to register my business name in North Carolina after I conduct a search?
No, there is no deadline for registering your business after conducting a name search.
What type of business entity can I search for in North Carolina?
You can search for corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and more on the North Carolina Secretary of State website.
How do I differentiate between an LLC and a corporation in a North Carolina business name search?
LLCs and corporations have separate search categories on the North Carolina Secretary of State website, but you can also check the entity type when reviewing search results.
If I find a similar business name in North Carolina, can I still use my chosen name?
It depends on the similarities and whether they could cause confusion with the existing business. A trademark attorney can offer more guidance.
Are there any phase or words that cannot be used in a North Carolina business name?
Yes, words like “bank” and “insurance” have legal requirements and cannot be used in a business name in North Carolina without appropriate permission or licensing.
Can I change my business name after registering it in North Carolina?
Yes, you can change a business name in North Carolina by filing articles of amendment with the Secretary of State.
How often should I conduct a business name search in North Carolina to make sure my name is still available?
You should regularly conduct name searches before incorporating or while planning a name change for heightened assurance that the name is available.
Can I search for a name for a non-profit organization in North Carolina?
Yes, the North Carolina Secretary of State website includes a database for searching names of non-profit organizations.
What forms of documentation are required to register a business name in North Carolina?
Different forms may be required depending on the type of business entity, but most require articles of incorporation or organization.
Can I reserve multiple names in North Carolina and decide on the final one later?
No, only one business name can be reserved at a time they/it losing their/its reservation.
Can two businesses have the same name in different cities in North Carolina?
Yes, business names are registered on a statewide level in North Carolina. However, if confusing to residents in or operating interstate, be prepared to settle a trademark dispute.
Can I search for a DBA (Doing Business As) name along with the legal name in a North Carolina name search?
Yes, you can search for multiple forms of a business’s name on the North Carolina Secretary of State website.
How do I change a registered business’s name in North Carolina?
You can change a business name in North Carolina by filing articles of amendment with the Secretary of State.
Does North Carolina require any additional forms when registering a name for a franchise?
It is up to the franchisor to provide guidance on additional forms needed in North Carolina.
Can I change my business’s name to a name already registered in North Carolina?
No, you cannot use a business name already reserved or registered by another business in North Carolina without appropriate permission or licensing.
How do I know if my chosen business name is too similar to an existing one in North Carolina?
It is best to consult the guidance of a seasoned law attorney in trademark registration to avoid potentially infringing someone else’s registered trademarks.
What should I do if I find out I unknowingly infringed on a registered business name in North Carolina?
It’s best to discontinue use the mis-used name or agree with a settlement with ones breaking a trademark infringement law itself and social costs.
Is reserving a business name in North Carolina refundable?
No, North Carolina’s reservation filing fee is non-refundable; also make sure carefully at name choices before submitting them.
Does North Carolina provide guidelines on what expenses small businesses can write-off, related to the expenses connecting toward their work income?
Yes, The state of North Carolina provides business owners with guidelines for allowable tax deductions related to their businesses.
How long does it take to register a business name in North Carolina?
The time varies depending on the type of business entity, the state’s processing time, and completeness the documents.
Does the reservation of a business name guarantee its approval in North Carolina?
No, the Secretary of State reserves the name, but haven’t studied its permissible or approval likelihoods.
Can foreign businesses file for a business name in North Carolina?
Yes, but doing business in North Carolina may bring additional state expenses since it does not certify and permit companies operating out of the state who doesn’t form under North Carolina.
Can a business switch between a corporation, LLC, and other types of business entities in North Carolina?
Yes, a business in North Carolina can change its registering entity types with proper tax payments within the process.
How long is a name reservation valid in North Carolina?
North Carolina business name reserves are valid for 120 days from the date of filing.
Can a registered agent search for a business name on behalf of a client in North Carolina?
Yes, a registered agent can search for business names on behalf of the requesting clients.

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Conducting North Carolina business name search is essential for entrepreneurs and business owners in establishing a unique and legally compliant business identity. This process not only helps to avoid potential legal disputes and ensure compliance with state regulations but also plays a critical role in building a strong brand presence in the market. By utilizing the available resources, tools, and guidelines provided by the relevant state or county agencies, business owners can effectively choose and register a business name that stands out from the competition, resonates with the target audience, and contributes to long-term business success.

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