Last updated: March 14, 2023

A Washington business name search is an important step in establishing a business in Washington state.

The business entity search process itself is simple, but there are some things you should know before you start with your business search.

This guide will show you some search tips and how easy it can be to look up an LLC in Washington.

A woman performing a Washington LLC name search

The main document of your future Washington LLC is the Certificate of formation that is filed with the Washington Secretary of State.

In order for this document to be accepted and processed by the state, it must include a name for your LLC.

The Washington Secretary of State will not allow an LLC to be formed with a name that is already in use or too similar to another business registered in the state.

In order to ensure that you have a unique and available entity name for your LLC, you should perform a business entity search of the names of limited liability companies currently in use.

Please note that you cannot select your own name for the company without conducting this Washington LLC formation document search.

It is required by law to ensure all businesses are running with unique and available names to avoid confusion within the marketplace.

Without an approved business name, you won't be able to obtain your Unified Business Identifier (UBI), business license, or other documents that are essential for your limited liability company.

Washington LLC Naming Guidelines

A guidelines with block of text

Every business entity in Washington needs to comply with the business name requirements before it can take assume its desired name.

When starting a Washington LLC you need to follow naming guidelines that are specific and straightforward.

The name of your Washington LLC business must include the phrase "limited liability company" or the abbreviation "LLC."

The Washington LLC name cannot be the same as, or similar to, an existing business entity registered with the Washington Secretary of State's office.

Washington LLC business names mustn't contain any terms that resemble or imply a government agency.

Explicit examples include "The United States," "US," "Federal Government," or any of its abbreviations, and terms like "Washington National Airport."

The name cannot contain the restricted words "bank," "cooperative society," or anything that implies it is a federal credit union.

Washington has a few requirements for limited liability company names that ban certain words from being used in company names if they are likely to mislead the public.

These include: "corporation," "incorporated," and other terms which imply a corporation, even if your business is not incorporated.

Business Name Search in Washington

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Some business owners want to perform a Washington business entity 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.

Hovering search button being clicked on

The Washington Secretary of State has a Business Name Search tool on the State website to help you perform LLC or corporation search and find out if a business is registered in Washington.

The Business Name Search tool uses the Washington Secretary of State's database of all registered business entities to search for existing businesses in the state.

To get the most out of your Washington business search, enter the entity name you have in mind, and exclude abbreviations like "LLC."

This will bring back all entities with similar or identical names to your desired name.

There is no need to type all the words from the LLC name; two will be enough for a Washington Secretary of State advanced business search.

This will allow you to broaden the Washington business search even more.

The advanced search function can help you save time and find businesses registered in a specific county or with particular keywords in the name.

The results of your search will include the following information:

  • Business Name
  • Principal Office Address
  • 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.

Search Engines

Search engines are an excellent tool for finding information about an LLC, whether it's the LLC name availability you're after or other information about the company.

You may input the desired name or other search phrases into the businesses you select and receive a list of results.

Look through the search page and make sure to check every result.

Business Name Reservation for Washington LLCs

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Corporations & Charities Division of the State of Washington is in charge of running name reservations for business entities.

The process is simple, but you should keep in mind that you can only do it by mail.

First, check the availability of your desired business name at the SOS website by performing a Business Name Availability Search.

If it is available, you will be able to reserve it immediately. If not, you may need to brainstorm other names.

Once you have found a business name available for reservation, you can make a reservation for up to 180 days.

You can download a Name Reservation Form from the Washington Secretary of State website.

After you fill it out, you can mail it to the Washington Secretary of State, 801 Capitol Way S, Olympia, Washington.

The filing fee for the Name Reservation Form is $30, but you can opt for expedited processing at a $50 fee.

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How Do I Find Out Who Owns a Business in Washington?

All the businesses registered in Washington can be found through Washington SOS business search.

This online function will allow you to find the business owner's name (unless they used a business name that is not their legal name), the registered agent, and more.

Should I Name My LLC After Myself?

It depends because there are both pros and cons attached to this decision.

Naming your LLC after yourself has some definite benefits: it can make it easier to do business and promote your company, and it can give you a sense of personal ownership and responsibility.

However, if something goes wrong with the company, you could be liable for its debts.

You should also keep in mind that if you publicly state your support for a certain political cause or social issue, the perception of how impartial your company is could be compromised by naming it after yourself.

Can You Change the Name of an LLC in Washington State?

Yes. In order o change your LLC name, you need to make an Amendment to your Certificate of Formation and file it with the WA Secretary of State.

You can change your LLC name as many times as you want, but only if the new name is not "objectionable."

A registered agent must sign and file an Assumed Business or Fictitious Name Report for each trade name. The filing fee for an LLC Amendment is $30.

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

To add a DBA to your Washington LLC, 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.

For businesses that were formed in other states but planned on doing business in Washington, you may also be required to file a DBA with the Secretary of State (SOS) beforehand.

DBA is a popular choice for sole proprietorships because it allows you to use the name of your business as an independent legal entity.

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

Yes. 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?

The cost of trademarking your business in Washington is $10.

However, keep in mind that the type of your business and some other factors will dictate the additional costs, such as the number of classes you file in and the search that is conducted prior to filing your trademark.

Washington State LLC Lookup: What You Need to Know

To successfully perform LLC registration and open an LLC in Washington, thoroughly research the name first.

This is because your application could get rejected if it does not meet the requirements set forth by the state or county that governs your company registration.

You'll want to ensure no other companies with similar names are registered in the same area before applying for incorporation.

Furthermore, when choosing a business name, be aware of any trademarks owned by others so they won't have grounds to sue you later on.

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