Arkansas Business Name Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
Even with the help of business services through the Secretary of State, registering a business has financial consequences. Always discuss business setup with a business attorney.
How to search for Arkansas business names
The Arkansas Secretary of State (SoS) makes it easy to search for business entity name availability. It includes all entity search types in one search. To conduct an entity name search, take the following steps.
- Step 1: Navigate to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s search tool.
- Step 2: Leave the ‘Corporation Type’ field set to “All Types.”
- Step 3: Enter the entity name in the text field. If the business owner is looking for a fictitious name, enter it in the ‘Fictitious Name’ field and leave the first search field blank.
- Step 4: Leave the boxes for ‘Registered Agent,’ ‘RA City,’ and ‘RA State’ blank.
- Step 5: Leave the search criteria for ‘Filing #’ empty.
- Step 6: Click the ‘Search’ button.
If the system returns “There were no records found!” the name is most likely available. If the system returns a list of companies, one might be an exact match, and the rest might be similar names. The business owner should browse the list to determine whether any name is too similar to be used.
How to register a business name in Arkansas
Arkansas does not require a business owner to create an account to register a business. Instead, business owners fill out the appropriate forms and submit them electronically for business filings. To register a new business in Arkansas, navigate to the Corporations Online Filing System. Choose the appropriate form(s). Fill them out right online, then submit them with payment.
If a prospective business owner is not sure which entity type to choose, contact a business law attorney. Some entities offer protection of personal assets, while others do not. The Internal Revenue Service taxes entities in various ways. For example, sole proprietorships and general partnerships are pass-through entities. Business owners pay business taxes on their personal taxes.
Corporations pay taxes before paying the owners, board members, and employees. Then the individuals pay taxes on their wages (double taxation).
Arkansas trademark/DBA name search
Some businesses trademark their logo, products, or services. If a business wishes to file a trademark or trade name, search the Arkansas Secretary of State’s trademark database.
Enter the search criteria in the ‘Name’ or ‘Owner’ boxes, then click ‘Search.’ A business owner should try different keywords related to her business to ensure that she finds any trademark that might be similar.
If a business owner registers a trademark in Arkansas, the exclusive protection is only for Arkansas. To obtain national protection, the business owner must file a federal trademark. If the business owner wishes to determine whether a business name or logo has been trademarked at the federal level, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Check if the domain name is available
Before a business registers its name, the business owner should take additional steps to ensure that the name is available for domain and social media use. While the domain name and social media accounts or pages do not have to have the same name as the business, it is better for marketing purposes. If another person or entity is already using the name, a prospective business owner can choose another name to register at the state level or use a different name that describes the business for the domain name and social media accounts.
Most businesses have an internet presence, even if they do not sell their goods and services online. The ultimate scenario is to have a domain name that is the same as the business name, that doesn’t always happen. Another individual or business might use the domain name – that person or entity could be in or out of state.
To determine whether a domain name is available, navigate to any of the domain registries, such as GoDaddy, and enter the business name.
If a domain name is not available
- If the name is not available as a dot-com, do not choose a dot-net or other extension, even if it is available. Customers will become confused and could end up on a competitor’s site.
- If the name is available, we recommend reserving it immediately as a dot-com, dot-net, dot-us and dot-org. A business owner could also choose several other domain types. Build the main site on the dot-com, then create landing pages that point to the dot-com from the other extensions.
- The rules for similar names are not as strict as the Secretary of State. Do not be tempted to choose a domain name that is too similar. For example, if someone is using ABCWidgets, a business owner might choose BestABCWidgets or ArkansasABCWidgets, but not TheABCWidgets.
Check if the social media name is available
Checking for social media name availability is as simple as entering the business name in the search box. As with the domain name, a business owner does not want a name that is too similar if the name is not available.
A business owner could choose a name that describes the business or a name that is similar, but not too similar, to the taken name.
Naming considerations for Arkansas business entities
Arkansas requires business owners to append certain phrases, words, or abbreviations based on entity type to the business name. If a business owner does not append the appropriate name extension, the Secretary of State will reject the application.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not have to register with the Arkansas Secretary of State; thus, they do not have a mandatory naming convention. However, if a sole proprietorship or a general partnership wishes to use a fictitious name (doing business as or DBA), the business must register the fictitious name with the Arkansas Secretary of State.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
Arkansas allows two types of limited liability companies. Both have separate naming conventions. If a business owner chooses to incorporate as a limited liability company, it must add one of the following to its name:
- Limited liability company.
- Limited company.
The business owner may also choose to abbreviate ‘limited’ as ‘Ltd.’ and ‘company’ as ‘Co.’
The second type of limited liability company is a professional limited liability company. Business owners who choose this entity type must add one of the following to the business name:
- Professional limited liability company.
- Professional limited company.
The business owner may also choose to abbreviate ‘limited’ as ‘Ltd.’ and ‘company’ as ‘Co.’
Limited partnerships and limited liability partnerships
Arkansas has two types of limited partnerships. A regular limted partnership must use one of the following in its name:
- Limited partnership.
A limited liability limited partnership must use one of the following:
- Limited liability limited partnership.
The name extensions are not interchangeable.
A corporation must contain one of the following in its name:
- Any abbreviation of the words corporation, company or incorporated.
Nonprofit corporations use the same naming conventions.
How are business licenses obtained in Arkansas?
Businesses in Arkansas do not have to have a comprehensive state-issued license to do business. However, the state, counties, and cities might require certain business licenses based on location or industry.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
If a business has employees, it must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). However, banks, creditors, and vendors might require a business that does not have employees to obtain a FEIN. We can procure the FEIN for you, or you can apply for it yourself.
Why does Arkansas require every business to have a registered agent?
A registered agent is someone licensed to do business in Arkansas. The registered agent must be in the office during all business hours to accept the process of service, other legal documents, and documents from the Arkansas Secretary of State and other governmental agencies. The registered agent then forwards the documents to the business owner in a timely manner.
Where does a business owner find the most up-to-date filing fee schedules?
Navigate to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Forms / Fees / Records Requests page. The fees are listed for service of process, doing business as, nonprofits, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and domestic and foreign corporations.
Does my business have to pay a franchise tax?
Yes. All businesses registered with the Arkansas Secretary of State must file an annual report and pay the annual franchise fee. Limited and limited liability partnerships must also pay the annual franchise fee (partnership page).
If I register a trademark in Arkansas, does it protect my intellectual property throughout the country?
No. If a business wants intellectual property protected throughout the country, it must file the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We recommend eliciting the help of an intellectual property attorney should you wish to file a trademark with the federal agency.
Search for business names in your state
Click below to get started