How to Look Up an LLC in North Carolina? (Full Guide)

Delina Chantel Yasmeh
Published by Delina Chantel Yasmeh | Author
Last updated: February 13, 2024
Methodology
We meticulously research and verify the information presented in our articles. By consulting reliable sources and ensuring factual accuracy, we are committed to providing readers with well-informed, trustworthy content.

If you are looking to start an LLC in North Carolina, you must choose a name for your company. The North Carolina Business Services website offers an online name search tool to help you find an available name for your business.

As a seasoned consultant specializing in limited liability companies, I’ll walk you through the process of conducting a business entity search in North Carolina.

I collaborated with our team of lawyers and legal advisors to provide you with all the legal information you need.

Quick Summary

  • To look up an LLC in North Carolina, you can go to the Secretary of State website and use the business entity name search tool.
  • You can conduct a business entity search in North Carolina by name, registered agent, company official, or assumed business name.
  • According to the North Carolina Secretary of State, new business registrations rose by 20% in 2023, indicating a surge in entrepreneurial and trademark activity in the state.
  • My experience has shown that an LLC search not only confirms name availability but aids in understanding a business's market position and legal standing.


How to Search for Business Names in North Carolina?

A woman conducting a North Carolina business name search

To search for business names in North Carolina, the most effective method is to visit the Secretary of State website. The site contains a database of all registered businesses within the state.

You can also call or email the office as an immediate search alternative.

Here are different search types for North Carolina business entities search:

1. Use the Secretary of State's Website

Follow the general steps below to search an LLC:

  1. Visit the North Carolina Secretary of State Business Registration Search.
  2. Choose from the options: Company, Registered Agents, Company Officials, or Assumed Business Names.
  3. Decide your search approach: Starting With, Exact, or SOSID.
  4. Enter the appropriate name or information in the 'Searching For' field based on your previous selections.
  5. Browse through the search results to locate the specific LLC and click on it for more detailed information.

During the search you can choose either of these options:

a. Name Search

When you have the exact or partial name of the LLC, the name search is the ideal method. This option is straightforward; you simply enter the name of the LLC into the search bar.

The system then filters and presents you with a list of businesses that match or closely resemble the name you entered.

This method is particularly useful for quickly locating a specific business or verifying if a business name is already in use.

"If your chosen name is already taken, you'll need to create a unique variation or select an entirely different name for your LLC."

- Jon Morgan, CEO, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter

b. Registered Agents

Searching by registered agents is a valuable tool when you want to find all entities associated with a specific registered agent.

In this method, you enter the name of the registered agent into the search field.

The results will show you a list of all the businesses that the agent is linked to.

This search is particularly useful for legal professionals or those researching a specific agent's business connections.

c. Company Officials

This search method allows you to find LLCs by entering the name of a known company official. It's an effective way to understand an individual's range of business affiliations and roles across different entities.

By inputting the name of a company official, the search will yield all the businesses associated with that individual, providing a comprehensive view of their professional engagements.

d. Assumed Business Name

When you only know the operating name of a business, which might differ from its legal name, searching by the assumed business name is the best approach.

In this process, you enter the operating name of the business, and the search results will direct you to the legal entity that operates under that name.

This method is particularly useful for identifying the formal business structure behind commonly known business names.

Their website offers a variety of resources that can help you conduct your search type, including:

  • A business name search tool
  • Registered business name list
  • Corporation and LLC filings
  • Annual report

2. Call the State

For more direct and personalized assistance, especially with complex queries regarding LLC searches, you can call the state office via 919-814-5400.

This method is particularly useful when the online search does not provide the required information or when there is a need for clarification on specific details.

The state representatives are equipped to handle a range of questions and can guide you through more intricate aspects of LLC information.

3. Send an Email

Emailing the state office is a viable option if you prefer written communication or need to keep a record of the correspondence.

This method is suitable for detailed inquiries that are not time-sensitive. When sending an email, use corps@sosnc.gov and be as specific as possible about the information you are seeking.

This will help the state representatives provide the most accurate and helpful responses.

4. Other Business Entity Search Alternatives

Here are other unofficial ways you can look up an LLC in North Carolina:

  • Check platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook for business profiles and public interactions.
  • Google the business name for news, reviews, and other public information.
  • Use sites like Yelp or the Better Business Bureau for listings and customer feedback.
  • LinkedIn can provide details about the business executives and their professional connections.
  • Local business associations often maintain records of businesses in the area.

How to Check If A Business Name Is Trademarked in North Carolina?

Someone starting an LLC for day trading on laptop

When determining if a business name is already trademarked in North Carolina, it's essential to conduct a thorough search to avoid any potential legal issues related to trademark infringement.

There are two reliable methods to perform this check: using the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and the North Carolina Secretary of State's website.

Each method serves a distinct purpose and complements the other, providing a comprehensive approach to trademark verification.

Here's how you can use each of these resources effectively:

1. North Carolina Secretary of State's Website

Navigate to the North Carolina Secretary of State's Business Registration Search.

This platform provides information about business entities registered in North Carolina, including details about trademarks registered at the state level.

According to the latest data from the North Carolina Secretary of State's office, the number of new business registrations in the state increased by 20% in 2023, reflecting a significant uptick in entrepreneurial activity and trademark filings within North Carolina.

Use the search function to look up the business name you are interested in. While this search will primarily reveal if the name is in use by another business entity in North Carolina, it can also provide insight into any state-level trademarks.

It's important to note that state-level searches might not capture federally registered trademarks, so checking both the USPTO and the Secretary of State's website is advisable for thoroughness.

2. United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Website

Visit the USPTO website and utilize their trademark search tool, known as TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) [1]. According to the USPTO's 2023 Annual Report, the office received over 500,000 trademark applications, marking a 5% increase from the previous year, highlighting the growing interest and activity in trademark registrations in the United States.

This tool allows you to search an extensive database of registered trademarks and pending trademark applications.

By entering the business name you're interested in, you can find out if it's already trademarked.

This step is crucial for ensuring that your business name or logo does not infringe on existing trademarks, which could lead to legal complications.

Here are some key reasons why conducting a thorough search is essential in different business contexts:

  • Ensuring the business adheres to state laws and regulations.
  • Ensuring the name availablity of an LLC.
  • Gaining insights into similar businesses in the industry.
  • Essential for verifying the legitimacy of a business before transactions.
  • To avoid legal issues related to trademark infringement.
  • Crucial for investors assessing the business's legal standing and market position.
  • Gathering necessary information for legal proceedings.
  • Understanding the evolution and changes in a business.
  • Assisting consumers in making informed decisions.
Woman using gadgets at the same time

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FAQs

How Do I Check the Status of My LLC in North Carolina?

To check the status of your LLC in North Carolina, you can visit the North Carolina Secretary of State's website, call the state's office, or use an online service.

Can I Search for an LLC Using a Business Address?

You can search for an LLC uing a business adress. This information can often be found in the detailed business entity search results.

What Should I Do if I Find an Inactive or Dissolved LLC With the Name I Want to Use?

If an LLC is inactive or dissolved, the name might be available for use. However, it's advisable to verify this with the Secretary of State's office and understand any potential restrictions or waiting periods.


References:

  1. https://www.uspto.gov/

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