How to Look up an LLC in Delaware? (A Complete Guide)
Before establishing a limited liability company in Delaware, you'll be required to create a unique business name. To find out if your desired business entity name is available, the simplest way is to conduct an online search.
As part of a team of legal experts and business consultants with over a decade of practice, I’ll provide a comprehensive guide, based on research and precedent inquiries, so you could easily look up a Delaware LLC.
- To look up an LLC in Delaware, visit the state's official website and use the Delaware Secretary of State Search Tool to enter the name or file number of the entity.
- The Delaware Division of Corporations provides a Business Entity Database for finding detailed information about businesses registered in the state.
- Between the years 2020 and 2022, the number of LLCs registered in Delaware increased from 1,109,736 to 1,403,986, marking a significant growth in business registrations within the state.
- Navigating the Delaware LLC search process is surprisingly straightforward and user-friendly, making it accessible even for those new to business registrations.
How to Search an LLC in Delaware?
A business name search is the simplest and quickest method to look up a Delaware LLC.
1. Use the Delaware Secretary of State Search Tool
During my quest to establish my client's business, I heavily relied on the Division of Corporations' Business Entity Database.
The Division of Corporations is responsible for maintaining records for all business entities registered in the state. It provides a Business Entity Database that you can use to find information about businesses in Delaware.
a. Search By Name
Take the following steps to determine if your desired LLC name is already registered or still available:
- Go to the Delaware Secretary of State corporation search page.
- Click on the first link, which will take you to Delaware's Department of State - Division of Corporations website.
- Use the search bar and type in the name of the entity you're looking for.
- The LLC will appear in the search results if registered with the state.
b. Search By File Number
Aside from the business name, you can also search for a limited liability company using its file number. This can also be done on Delaware’s Division of Corporations website. If you know the file number, input the information in the search box.
2. Call the State
Another option is to call the Delaware Secretary of State's office. You can reach them at (302) 739-3073.
You can talk with operators from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday excluding State Holidays.
This method is best if you have an urgent inquiry, or want real-time assistance.
3. Send an Email
You can also mail the Secretary of State's office. Send your questions to email@example.com.
Make sure to include as much detail as possible about your question to get a helpful response.
4. Delaware Registered Agent
The Division of Corporations also provides information about the Delaware registered agent for an LLC. You can find the business name and the address of the LLC's agent online.
General information such as name, filing number, incorporation/formation date, agent name, address, phone number, and residence is free of charge on the Department of State Division of Corporations website.
On the other hand, you can obtain more detailed information for a fee. You can also contact a law firm to get more professional advice on the matter.
If you need a Certificate of Status, a Certified Copy of a filed document, or a Plain Copy of the same, contact the agent of the company you're looking into.
5. Other Business Entity Search Alternatives
Apart from the official resources, you can use a few other methods to look up an LLC in Delaware:
- Social media platforms: Most businesses nowadays have a social media presence. You can check these to get insights into the company.
- Search engines: Use Google to do a quick search on an LLC. You can information such as news articles and the company's official website.
- Business directories: Try websites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and industry-specific directories for information on LLCs.
- Legal databases: Platforms like LexisNexis or Westlaw can provide legal information on LLCs, including litigation history.
- Networking Sites: Use LinkedIn to find information on the company's executives.
Now that you know how to look up an LLC in Delaware let's proceed with name requirements and trademarks.
How to Check If A Business Name Is Trademarked in Delaware?
When I was at the stage of ensuring my client's business name wasn't stepping on any toes, trademark-wise, I followed the outlined steps for both federal and state-level checks.
Federal Trademark Check (Through the USPTO)
The USPTO manages federal trademarks. You can use their online search system, known as the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), to search for federally registered trademarks .
On the USPTO website, navigate to the TESS search page. You can conduct a basic search if you have the exact name you want to check or use the advanced search for more complex queries.
Pay close attention to the results that are similar in sound, appearance, or meaning to the name you want to use. Even if the name is not an exact match, a similar name in a related industry could pose a conflict.
State Trademark Check (SOT Website)
The SOT database primarily contains information about business entity names . it's a good starting point to ensure your desired business name isn't being used within the state.
However, for trademarks specifically, you might need to look for a dedicated state trademark search section or contact the state's Division of Corporations for guidance.
Similar to the federal search, review any trademarks that could potentially conflict with your business name. Pay attention to trademarks in similar industries or those that sound or look similar to your desired name.
Reasons to Perform a Search
These are the reasons to perform an LLC search:
- Avoid legal issues: Performing a trademark search can help you avoid legal conflicts by ensuring that your desired business name or logo isn't infringing on someone else's registered trademark, potentially saving you from costly litigation.
- Unique brand identity: A thorough search helps ensure that your brand name or logo is unique, allowing you to build a distinctive identity in the marketplace that customers can easily recognize.
- Prevent rebranding: Discovering a trademark conflict after you've started your business can lead to rebranding, which is not only expensive but can also result in losing customers and brand recognition.
- Market research: A trademark search can double as market research, giving you insight into your competitors and how crowded the market might be for your brand concept.
- Compliance with registration requirements: If you plan to register your trademark, conducting a search is a crucial step to ensure compliance with registration requirements and increase the likelihood of your application being approved.
- Protect your business nationwide: For businesses planning to operate across the U.S., a federal trademark search ensures that the name is available nationwide, offering broader protection than a state trademark alone.
- Enhance Brand Value: A unique and legally protected brand name or logo adds value to your business, making it more attractive to potential investors, partners, and customers.
What is a Delaware LLC Search?
A Delaware LLC search is usually conducted to determine if an intended company name is still available. A search may also be used to find a specific company, product or service.
Can You See Who Owns an LLC in Delaware?
You can see who owns an LLC in Delaware by conducting a search through the Division of Corporations and accessing the entity’s Articles of Organization.
Do I Have to File a DBA in Delaware?
You have to file a DBA in Delaware if you are using a fictitious name.
DBAs, or Doing Business As names, are filed with the Prothonotary's office in the county where you conduct business. The required form is available for download at the Delaware Courts website at https://courts.delaware.gov/forms/.
Delaware LLC Lookup
When I needed to look up an LLC in Delaware, I headed straight to the state’s official website.
There are several options you can look up a Delaware LLC based on the information you have on the official website. Once you have acquired an available name, you can register and start conducting business.
Remember, if you need legal or tax advice to open an LLC in Delaware, talk to an attorney or a tax professional.