Kansas 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 Kansas business names
Kansas has a very simple business name search. A business owner must search the Kansas Secretary of State’s database to determine name availability prior to registering a name. If a business tries to register a name that is unavailable, the Secretary of State’s office will reject the application.
- Step 1: Navigate to the Kansas Secretary of State’s search tool to enter search criteria.
- Step 2: Click the ‘Search’ button.
- Step 3: Review the results from the search type. If an exact match exists, the business name is unavailable.
- Step 4: Review the results for similar names. If a name is too similar, it is unavailable. For example, a business wishes to register ABC Widgets, but The ABC Widgets exists. The name is unavailable.
How to register a business name in Kansas
To register a business entity in Kansas, a business owner must log in to the Secretary of State’s office. Before beginning the process, a business owner should know which entity type she will choose. Choosing an entity means taking many factors into consideration, including how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will tax the entity and what protections are offered.
For example, business owners of corporations are taxed twice – once at the corporate level and again at the personal level. Limited liability companies are taxed once – the business owner pays taxes on his personal tax return.
Corporations protect personal assets from corporate creditors and lawsuits as long as the money is not co-mingled. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not offer this protection.
Once a business owner decides which entity type is best, she can start the registration process.
Kansas trademark/DBA name search
Registering a trademark in Kansas does not give you exclusive rights to the trademark. However, if you register the trademark, it could bolster a business owner’s case should someone try to sue the business owner for using the mark, as long as the other business has not registered the mark or registered it after the business owner registered the original trademark.
To search the trademark database:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Kansas Secretary of State’s trademark search page.
- Step 2: Select the appropriate search criteria for how you want to search, including by trademark or by a single keyword.
- Step 3: Enter the name of the trademark or service mark or enter keywords describing the trademark or service mark.
- Step 4: Click the ‘Search’ button.
- Step 5: Review the results to ensure no one is using the name, trademark or service mark you wish to use for the business.
If a business owner wishes to protect her intellectual property for exclusive use, she must file the trademark at the federal level. 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.
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.
Creating an internet presence could significantly bolster sales. To search for a domain name, navigate to any domain registry, such as GoDaddy. Enter the business name in the search box.
The system will display the in-use name and alternatives if the name is in use. If not, it will tell you that the name is available.
If a domain name is not available
In some cases, the name might be unavailable as a dot-com but available as a dot-net or with another extension. We do not recommend using the alternative extensions if another business or individual is using the dot-com. It is too easy for customers to become confused and end up at a competitor’s site.
Instead, a business owner could:
- Choose another business name if he did not register it with the Kansas Secretary of State yet.
- Choose a name that describes the business.
- Choose a similar name. For example, if ABCWidgets.com is unavailable, the business owner might choose BestABCWidgets.com or ABCWidgetsKS.com.
Once you find a name, register it as soon as possible, so another business or entity does not take the name. Unlike the Secretary of State’s office, which affects only the state, a domain registry is national. Thus, someone in another state could pick the same business name and use it.
Check if the social media name is available
Adding social media platform accounts for the business is another way to get free or low-cost marketing and get the business name in front of potentially millions of people. To check name availability on social media platforms, enter the business name in the search box.
If another individual or business is not using the name, create an account for the business as soon as possible. As with domain names, anyone from any state could use the same business name.
Naming considerations for Kansas business entities
Kansas requires each entity type to append certain phrases, words or abbreviations after the business name.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Since Kansas does not require sole proprietorships and general partnerships to register with the Kansas Secretary of State, they shouldn’t add an entity type to the business entity name. Additionally, Kansas does not require businesses to register ‘doing business as’ or DBA names (trade names).
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a limited liability company must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
- Limited liability company.
- Limited company.
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a limited partnership must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
- Limited partnership.
Limited liability partnerships
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a limited liability partnership must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
- Registered limited liability partnership.
- Limited liability partnership.
A business owner who chooses to incorporate as a corporation must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
If the business is a public benefit company, it must contain:
- Public benefit corporation.
How are business licenses obtained in Kansas?
Kansas and its counties and cities might require business licenses. Kansas.gov provides a list of businesses that need a license. It also provides county websites and contact information to make it easy for businesses to locate licenses and permits at the local levels.
Does my business need a registered agent?
If your business is registered with the Kansas Secretary of State, you must have a registered agent. The registered agent ensures that the business stays in compliance with state laws and offers a level of privacy. If a company receives service of process for a lawsuit, employees do not see the process server.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
If the business has employees, it must apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). However, creditors, banks, and some vendors might require a company with no employees to obtain a FEIN. A business owner can apply for a FEIN herself, or we can do it for the business.
How do I register my sole proprietorship?
Kansas does not require sole proprietorships to register, even if they use an alternate name. However, if a sole proprietor uses a DBA name, we recommend registering the DBA name.
Who needs a Certificate of Authorization?
Businesses practicing a technical profession need a KSBTP Certificate of Authorization unless the business is a sole proprietor.
When are annual reports due?
Annual report due dates depend on the entity type. For-profit entities using a calendar year file annual reports between January 1 and April 15.
For-profits using a fiscal year must file before the 15th day of the month following the end of the tax period.
Nonprofits based on a calendar year tax period file between January 1 and June 15.
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