The Florida Department of State's website features a database that can be used to search the names of all registered businesses in the state. This easy-to-use tool can be very useful if you are looking for ideas for an LLC name or need to determine if the name you want to use is available.
The Requirements For a Florida LLC Name
In general, you need to observe the following naming guidelines when choosing a name for your Florida LLC:
- Your LLC name must end with the phrase Limited Liability Company or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.). Restricted words such as "bank", "attorney", and "law office" may require one of the members of your LLC to be a licensed professional.
- Your LLC name cannot incorporate any words that may cause it to be confused with a government agency, such as “IRS”, “FBI”, “Treasury”, “State Department”, etc.
- You cannot use a name that has already been registered.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before you attempt to register your LLC name in Florida, it's important to choose a name that is unique. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- To avoid confusion; and
- To avoid potential legal problems with a business that has the same (or similar) business name as yours.
You, as the business owner, are ultimately responsible to ensure that your chosen LLC name does not infringe upon any third-party rights.
Search Your LLC Name
Before you register your chosen LLC name with the state of Florida, you want to check the state's register of business names to see if the name is already registered by another business. If the name is already in use, you will be unable to register it for your LLC.
To conduct a name search, follow these steps:
- Go to the Florida Division of Corporations' database here.
- Search by name for your chosen LLC name. To start, omit the phrase Limited Liability Company or its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.) for an LLC, or "Inc" for a Corporation.
- Be sure to search the database thoroughly for words and phrases that are the same or similar to those included in your chosen LLC name.
- If you find any results that are the same or similar, the name is not available to be used for your LLC. Therefore, you will need to try some new combinations of those words or phrases, or come up with a completely new idea for a business.
- If you are not sure that your chosen business name is sufficiently unique and available to be registered for your Florida LLC, simply complete the rest of the registration process. If it so happens that your chosen business name is unavailable, you will be notified that you need to change the name and file again.
National Name Search
To perform a national business name search, you can check trade directories and phone books of major cities across the country. Brands & Their Companies is a two-volume set of names compiled from many sources by publisher Thomson Gale.
You can also carry out an internet search. Simply google your chosen business name to see who else is using the same or a similar name. Even if a Google search for the exact name comes up clean, it is best to avoid names that are similar to other well-known companies, regardless of whether or not they seem to be doing business in Florida.
Just because you register your LLC name with the state does not necessarily mean that no other business can use that name. If you are looking for that type of protection, consider registering your LLC name (along with your logo, tagline, etc.) with the USPTO. There are plenty of guides, suggestions, and complete instructions on the USPTO's website and you can also consult with a qualified attorney for help with this.
The key point here is that registering a trademark with the USPTO helps give you legal protection for your LLC name, while registration with the state does not necessarily do that. So consider doing both.
Why Consult with an Experienced Florida Business Law Attorney
Choosing a Florida LLC name can be tricky and there is no substitute for good legal advice. So, if you have any trouble coming up with a qualified Florida LLC name, come across any potential legal issues in the state of Florida or nationwide, or if you have plans to expand your business globally, you should consult with a qualified business law attorney.