How to Look Up an LLC in Washington? (Step by Step Guide)

Delina Chantel Yasmeh
Published by Delina Chantel Yasmeh | Author
Last updated: February 14, 2024
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Conducting a business entity search is a vital part of establishing a business in Washington state.

While the process is straightforward, it is essential to familiarize yourself with a few key points before commencing your search.

With years of experience as a business consultant for Limited Liability Companies in various states, I’ll provide you with the ways you can look up a Washington LLC name.

After comprehensive research and collaboration with our team of legal advisors, I'll explain all the necessary legal information you need to know about conducting a name search, as well as tips to make the process simpler.

Quick Summary

  • To look up an LLC in Washington, utilize the Washington Secretary of State's online Business Name Search tool or contact their office for assistance.
  • Various methods for LLC searches include online searches by name or UBI, phone inquiries, and email communication.
  • In 2020, about 70% of new business filings in Washington were for LLCs, underscoring the need for detailed name searches to prevent conflicts, according to the Washington Secretary of State.
  • I've witnessed first-hand how much conducting a thorough LLC search in Washington can help with legal compliance but also with understanding the competitive landscape and establishing a unique brand identity.


How to Search an LLC in Washington State?

Searching and looking for an LLC in Washington on a laptop

The most effective way you can find an LLC in Washington is by using a name search or by entity number in the Washington Secretary of State online platform.

Some business owners want to perform a Washington LLC name search because they want to check the business status of an already existing company.

On the other hand, others want to ensure that their desired LLC name is available for use. In both cases, the procedure is the same.

According to the Washington Secretary of State, in 2020, approximately 70% of new business filings were for LLCs, highlighting the importance of conducting thorough name searches to avoid conflicts and ensure compliance.

Hovering search button being clicked on

The Washington Secretary of State provides a user-friendly Business Name Search tool on their official website. The platform facilitates searches for LLCs or corporations registered in Washington state.

To search for a Washington LLC, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Washington Secretary of State's official website.
  2. Locate and access the Business Entity Search tool.
  3. Enter your desired business name in the search bar, avoiding abbreviations like "LLC."
  4. Review the search results, which will include similar or identical names to your query.
  5. Utilize the advanced search function to refine results based on specific counties or keywords in the business name.
  6. Analyze the information provided to determine if the business is already registered in Washington state.

After clicking on a particular business, the following information will be made available to you:

  • Business Name
  • Principal Office Address
  • Washington Registered Agent
  • Mailing Address (if different from Principal Office)
  • Entity Type
  • Date Filed
  • Expiration date.

If your Washington Secretary of State business name search aims to obtain relevant information about a business entity, you can purchase the documents by clicking on the blue "Purchase Documents" button on the right.

The Washington Secretary of State’s Business Search tool platform is designed to be user-friendly and provides various search methods.

These include:

a. Search by Name

This involves using the Business Name Search tool on the Washington Secretary of State's official website.

Enter the full or partial name of the LLC you're interested in. This search will bring up all entities with similar names, helping you determine if your desired name is unique.

b. Search by Unique Business Identifier (UBI)

The Unified Business Identifier (UBI) is a 9-digit number issued to newly registered companies and individuals conducting business with the state [1]. As of April 4, 2022, the federal government transitioned to using the Unique Entity ID in SAM.gov, streamlining the process for over 3 million entities registered to do business with the U.S. Government, according to the General Services Administration.

If the UBI is available to you, enter the information in the designated field and click on ‘Search’. The Washington Secretary of State's webpage will display information about that particular business entity.

2. Call the State

Busy man talking to his phone while working on laptop

For more personalized assistance or if you encounter difficulties with the online search, you can contact the Washington Secretary of State’s office at (360) 725-0377. Their staff can help guide you through the search process or provide information over the phone.

3. Send an Email

If you prefer digital communication, sending an email can be a convenient option. Address your inquiries to corps@sos.wa.gov, and ensure to include all relevant details to receive a comprehensive response.

Here is how to prepare your email:

  • Subject Line: Clearly state the purpose, e.g., "Inquiry about [LLC Name] Registration Status".
  • Introduction: Briefly introduce yourself and the reason for your inquiry.
  • Specific Details: Mention the LLC's name and any other relevant information to help identify it.
  • Request: Clearly state what information you need about the LLC (e.g., registration status, compliance history).
  • Provide your full name, contact number, and any other relevant contact details.

4. Other Business Entity Search Alternatives

Here are other unofficial alternatives you can use to perform entity search:

a. Search Engines

Whether you need to check the availability of an LLC name or gather additional details about the company, search engines can provide valuable insights and data.

You can input a particular keyword or your desired LLC name into the designated field and click “enter”. The platform will display a list of results. Look through the page and verify if your preferred business title is available.

b. Social Media Platforms

Use platforms like LinkedIn to search for the business name to find profiles, employees, or company pages. Facebook and Twitter can provide business pages, reviews, and public posts related to the LLC.

c. Business Directories

Better Business Bureau (BBB) website provides business ratings, accreditation status, and customer reviews. Yelp and Yellow Pages are useful for finding business listings, customer feedback, and contact information.

d. Legal and Financial Databases

Databases like Dun & Bradstreet help access business credit reports and financial information. LexisNexis is a good resource for legal and business information, useful for in-depth research.

"When searching for a Washington LLC name like "Sunset Gardens LLC," begin with "Sunset Garden" and then narrow down to "Sunset" to uncover any similar names. This approach ensures you don't overlook any potentially matching entities."

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

How to Check If A Business Name Is Trademarked in Washington State?

Organizing documents on a clip

To check if a business name is trademarked in Washington, you can use: 

Here are the steps you can take:

  • Access the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.
  • Navigate to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This is the primary tool for conducting federal trademark searches.
  • Input the business name you're interested in. You can use various search strategies, including word mark and design mark searches.
  • Examine the list of trademarks to see if the business name or a similar name is already registered or pending registration.
  • For each relevant entry, review the status and details to understand the scope of the trademark, including the goods or services it covers.

For state-level trademarks, contact the Washington Secretary of State using these options:

  • Reach out to the office for guidance on state-level trademark searches. The contact number is (360) 725-0377.
  • Go to the Washington Secretary of State's website and look for business and trademark information.
  •  Some states maintain their own trademark databases separate from the USPTO. If available, use this database to search for trademarks registered at the state level in Washington.
  • If online resources are limited, ask the state office about alternative methods to search, such as in-person or mail requests.

For a thorough search and legal advice, consider hiring a trademark attorney. They can conduct comprehensive searches and guide on trademark issues.

Some companies specialize in trademark searches and can provide detailed reports. This option might incur a fee.

4. Understand Trademark Classes

Trademarks are registered under specific classes corresponding to different goods and services. Understanding these classes can help determine if a similar name in a different class might affect your registration.

5. Monitor and Follow-Up on Trademark Filings

Regularly check for new filings, especially if you plan to use or register the name. For ongoing businesses, stay in touch with the state office for updates on trademark laws and registration processes.

A woman performing a Washington LLC name search

You look up an LLC and perform a name search to ensure approval of your documents and the uniqueness of the LLC name.

Here are some reasons for performing an LLC search in Washington:

  • To ensure the chosen name adheres to state naming guidelines before registering your LLC.
  • Checking the legitimacy and status of an LLC before entering into contracts or partnerships.
  • Understanding the competitive landscape in your industry.
  • To prevent potential trademark or trade name conflicts.
  • To create a unique and recognizable brand name.
  • Researching an LLC's background and reputation before making investment decisions.
  • Ensuring the name is available in other regions or states as part of expansion plans.

Related Articles:

FAQs

How Do I Add a DBA to an LLC in Washington?

To add a DBA to an LLC in Washington, you need to contact the Washington Department of Revenue (DOR).

You will need to provide the name and address of your LLC, as well as information about yourself.

Is a Trade Name the Same as a DBA Washington State?

A trade name is the same as a DBA Washington State. If you are using a name for your business that is different from your legal name, you will need to file a DBA with the state of Washington.

This stands for "doing business as" and is used to legally identify your business under another name.

How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Business Name in Washington State?

It costs $10 to trademark a business name in Washington state.

References:

  1. https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/organization/federal-acquisition-service/technology-transformation-services/integrated-award-environment-iae/iae-systems-information-kit/unique-entity-identifier-update

About The Author

Author
Delina Chantel Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, specializes in Mergers and Acquisitions at Deloitte and PwC, managing billion-dollar transactions. Educated in Accountancy at California State University and holding advanced degrees from Loyola Law School, she is highly skilled in tax law. Delina also dedicates time to pro bono work for women and children.
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Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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