Connecticut 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 Connecticut business names
When searching Connecticut’s Secretary of State database for entity name availability, you only have to conduct one search. All entities are accessible with the same search. To check the availability of a business name:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s search tool.
- Step 2: Enter the business name in the search box.
- Step 3: Click the magnifying glass to the right of the search box.
- Step 4. If the search results do not display any names, the name is most likely available. Register the name.
- Step 5: If the search tool displays results for the search criteria the business owner entered, check for an exact match. If an exact match exists, the name is not available.
- Step 6: Check for similar names. If a name is too similar, the Connecticut Secretary of State may reject the filing.
How to register a business name in Connecticut
Business owners can register most entities online, which makes business registration fast and easy. To register a new business, the business owner must create an account with the Connecticut Secretary of State.
A business owner can incorporate using one of several business entity types. Choose an entity type carefully based on the type of business and how the business owner wishes to manage the business, including managing tax liabilities. Some entities, such as corporations, protect the business owner’s personal assets from business creditors and lawsuits. Some, such as sole proprietorship, offer no protection.
Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service taxes entities in various ways. Some entities are pass-through entities, where the business owner pays business taxes on his personal tax returns. Some entities, such as corporations, pay tax at the corporate level and again at the individual level.
If a prospective business owner is unsure which entity is best for him, he should contact a business law attorney before registering a company.
Connecticut trademark/DBA name search
If a business owner plans on registering a trademark, trade name, or other intellectual property, he must search the Connecticut Secretary of State’s trademark database. The business owner can enter several search criteria, including the owner’s name, registration or file number, keywords, or a description of the intellectual property.
For best results, enter keywords describing the intellectual property or a description of the property. If a business owner registers a trademark in Connecticut, she does not have exclusive use throughout the United States. If a business owner wishes to have exclusive use on a national basis, she must file the intellectual property with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
If a 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.
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.
Check if the domain name is available
Businesses should have an internet presence, even if they do not plan to sell their products or services online. A website is an inexpensive way to market products and services. A business owner can check for business name availability by navigating to any of the domain registries, such as GoDaddy.
Enter the business name in the search box. If the name is available, register it as soon as possible. Others may also register the name, even if they are not the registered owner of the name in Connecticut. Another business with the same name in another state could register the domain.
If a domain name is not available
- If the domain name is not available, a business owner can pick a new company name if he hasn’t registered with the Secretary of State yet. The business owner can also use a descriptive name if he does not want to pick a new name for the business.
- Additionally, domain registries do not have as strict rules as the state – a business owner could also pick a similar name for the domain name. However, do not pick a name that is so close that customers become confused.
- Finally, if the business name is not available as a dot-com name, but is available as a dot-net or another extension, do not use it. Customers will become confused and will most likely end up on a competitor’s website.
Check if the social media name is available
Social media platforms have even fewer restrictions on name availability. To check if a name is available on social media platforms, enter the business name in the search box. If the name is taken, a list of businesses or individuals using the name will pop up.
The business owner can choose a descriptive name instead. Or, if the business owner wishes to have the same name in the state, as a domain, and on social media, he could pick a new business name.
Naming considerations for Connecticut business entities
Connecticut statutes require business owners to add certain words, phrases, or abbreviations to company names.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Since sole proprietorships and partnerships are not filed with the Connecticut Secretary of State, these business owners do not have to add naming conventions to the business name. However, if either type of business owner wishes to do business under a ‘doing business as‘ or DBA name, the business owner must file for a trade name certificate. File the certificate with the town clerk in the town where the business is located.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A limited liability company must use one of the following as part of its name:
- Limited liability company.
A business owner can abbreviate ‘limited’ as “Ltd.” and ‘company’ as “Co.”
If the business is a professional limited liability company, the business name must use one of the following:
- Professional limited liability company.
Limited liability partnerships
A limited liability partnership must include ‘limited liability partnership’ or ‘L.L.P.’ in the name.
A corporation, whether for profit or nonprofit, must include one of the following in its name:
- Societa per Azioni.
How are business licenses obtained in Connecticut?
Connecticut does not have one general business license. Instead, entities should look up the entity type on Ct.gov to determine which business licenses it requires. If a business owner does not see his industry listed, look for alternate industries. For example, a valve welder is listed under “Machinist Trades.”
How does a business find out if a creditor filed a lien against the business or business property?
A business owner may navigate to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s UCC lien page to search for liens against his business or business property. The lien lookup feature includes financing statements, judgments, IRS liens, aircraft liens, and vessel liens.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
If a business has employees, it must obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). However, if a business does not have employees but wants to open a bank account or obtain a credit card or line of credit, the bank or creditor might require the business owner to obtain a FEIN. Some vendors might also require a FEIN.
Does my business need a registered agent?
Yes. If a business is registered with the state, it must have a registered agent. The registered agent accepts service of process, legal documents, and documents from the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office and other government agencies.
Does Connecticut offer specials for veteran-owned businesses?
Yes. Visit Ct.gov for more information on veteran-owned business certifications and business incentives for veterans.
Does Connecticut have a special page that helps new business owners with business planning?
Yes. Navigate to the business services business planning page at Ct.gov. A business owner can go through the questionnaire and steps without creating an account. However, if the business owner wishes to go back to the checklist or share the checklist, she should create a free account.
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