New York 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 New York business names
Before registering a business entity name in New York, a prospective business owner should search the New York Department of State to determine name availability. To search for existing businesses in New York:
- Step 1: Navigate to the New York Department of State, Division of Corporations search tool to start entering search criteria.
- Step 2: Select “Entity Name” in the ‘Search By’ box.
- Step 3: Enter the prospective business name in the box labeled ‘Entity Name.’
- Step 4: Select the type of search. If choosing ‘Begins With,’ do a second search with this field set as ‘Contains’ to ensure you find any exact matches or similar names.
- Step 5: Mark the checkboxes for all of the entities listed.
- Step 6: Click the ‘Search the Database’ button.
Review the search results. If the system shows an exact match, the business owner must choose a different name. If the system shows a name that is too similar, the business owner must choose a different name. For example, if the search criteria is ‘The ABC Widget Company,’ the business owner cannot use it if someone has already registered ‘An ABC Widget Company.’
How to register a business name in New York
To register a business entity name in New York, navigate to the registration page. Choose the desired entity type:
- Business Corporation – Certificate of Incorporation.
- Benefit Corporation – Certificate of Incorporation.
- Professional Service Corporation – Certificate of Incorporation.
- Not-for-Profit (nonprofit) Corporation – Certificate of Incorporation.
- Limited Liability Company – Articles of Organization.
- Professional Service Limited Liability Company – Articles of Organization.
- Limited Partnership – Certificate of Limited Partnership.
Clicking the boxes will bring the business owner to instructions to file online or download and complete the appropriate documentation for the entity type.
New York trademark/DBA name search
New York does not have a searchable database for trademarks. The business owner must download the Original Application to Register a Trademark. New York trademarks are renewable every five years.
If the New York Department of State denies the application, it is generally for one of the three most common reasons, including:
- The business owner did not provide enough information.
- The business owner listed incorrect information or enclosed the incorrect fees.
- Someone else is already using that mark.
If a business owner wishes to protect her trademark nationally, the business register’s owner must search the US Patent and Trademark Office and file the mark with the Department of State.
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.
A business entity should have an internet presence, even if it’s a page pointing internet users to a brick-and-mortar business. The internet presence is an inexpensive way to advertise, especially if the business creates content that the search engines pick up.
To determine if the business name is available as a domain name, navigate to any domain registry’s site and enter the business name in the search box. The system will advise as to name availability. Some domain names will suggest alternative names.
If a domain name is not available
If the domain registry states that the domain is not available as a dot-com but is available as a dot-net or another extension, we do not recommend using the name. It is too easy for customers to become confused and end up on a competitor’s website. Instead, use a different name, create a similar name – but not too similar, or create a name that describes your business.
For example, instead of using its law firm name, Morgan & Morgan uses ‘forthepeople.com.’
Check if the social media name is available
Another avenue of inexpensive and free advertising is social media. To determine name availability on social media platforms, enter the business name in the search box. If the name is available, create an account for the business immediately. Social media has users from around the world, and anyone can grab the name at any time.
If the name is in use, the business owner has the same choices as when a domain name is unavailable – choose another name, use a descriptive name, or use a somewhat similar name. Be careful when using a similar name, or customers could become confused and end up on a competitor’s site.
Naming considerations for New York business entities
New York law requires some business entities to append certain phrases, words or abbreviations at the end of the business name.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Since New York doesn’t require sole proprietorships and general partnerships to register with the New York Department of State, these two entities do not have naming conventions. However, if a sole proprietorship or general partnership wishes to do business under an assumed name, it must file the assumed name with the Department of State.
Filing the assumed name does not protect the owner’s personal assets from business creditors and lawsuits. If a business owner wants to protect her personal assets from business creditors and lawsuits, she should choose another entity, such as a limited liability company or a corporation.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A business owner who incorporates as a limited liability company must append one of the following at the end of the business name:
- Limited liability company.
A business owner who incorporates as a limited liability partnership must append one of the following at the end of the business name:
- Registered limited liability partnership.
- Limited liability partnership.
A business owner who incorporates as a corporation must append one of the following at the end of the business name:
How are business licenses obtained in New York?
New York doesn’t have a general business license. However, certain industries must have licenses. Additionally, certain counties and cities might require a business to obtain a license or permit to do business in the local jurisdiction.
Does my business need a registered agent?
Yes. If the business is registered with the New York Department of State, it must have a registered agent. The registered agent ensures that the business remains in compliance with business laws. It also accepts service of process and other legal documents from the Department of State and other entities.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
If the business has employees, it must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). Additionally, some creditors, vendors, and banks might require a business to obtain a FEIN prior to doing business. A business owner can apply for a FEIN himself, or we can obtain the FEIN for the business.
How do I find out if a creditor or vendor filed a lien against my business or business property?
A business owner can search New York’s UCC database to determine whether a creditor or vendor filed a lien against business property or the business itself.
Can I pay for my business filings with a personal check?
Yes. However, any checks over $500 must be certified checks.
Is my filing fee to register a business entity refundable?
No. The filing fees are not refundable. We recommend that you seek the help of a business law attorney if you are not sure which entity to choose or how to set up the business.
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