Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma business names
Before a business can register an entity name, it must ensure that the name is available. The Oklahoma Secretary of State will reject the application if the name is an exact match or if it is too similar to the search criteria.
Searching for an available business name is one of the first steps – after creating a business plan and doing due diligence on the business – of creating a business entity. To search the Oklahoma Secretary of State for an entity name:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s search tool to lookup business filings.
- Step 2: Enter the business name in the ‘Entity Name’ search box.
- Step 3: Click “Advanced.”
- Step 4: Ensure the radio button for ‘Search All’ is selected.
- Step 5: Click the ‘Search’ button.
The system will display a list of matches if any. Browse through the listings to check for similar names. An exact match will display as the first result. If the system finds an exact match or the name is too similar, the prospective business owner must find another name.
How to register a business name in Oklahoma
Most business entities can register online, including limited liability companies and corporations. To register an entity name:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s business registration page.
- Step 2: If the business is a sole proprietorship or general partnership and the business owner wishes to register a fictitious name, choose “Domestic Trade Name” or “Domestic Partnership Fictitious Name.”
- Step 3: Scroll to “Online Registration of Business Entity Filings.”
- Step 4: Choose the entity type to file the entity name. For example, if the business owner is filing a limited liability company, he would choose “Domestic Limited Liability Company.”
- Step 5: Enter the information as requested by the Secretary of State’s office to begin filing the name.
If the business owner is unsure which entity type to choose, she should consult with a business law attorney. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes each entity differently. For example, corporations pay income tax on income at the corporate level. The CEO pays herself and her employees. The IRS then taxes those earnings on the individuals’ personal tax returns.
A limited liability company is a pass-through entity – the business owner pays taxes once – on his personal tax return.
Additionally, some entities do not protect personal assets from business creditors and lawsuits. For example, sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not offer this protection, but corporations and limited liability companies protect personal assets.
Oklahoma trademark/DBA name search
Oklahoma’s trademark search allows a business owner to search by trademark description as the search type. To search for a trademark, enter the trademark description and browse through the results for similar trademarks.
A business owner cannot register a trademark that is already in use, or that is too similar to a trademark that is in use. Filing a trademark in Oklahoma protects the business’s intellectual property from others using it only in Oklahoma.
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.
As part of searching for business name availability, a prospective business owner should also search for domain names. If possible, you want the domain name to be the same as the business name. However, that is not always possible. Someone from another state might be using the name you chose.
If a domain name is not available
If the business name is not available, a business owner can:
- Choose a different business name.
- Create a name that is similar to the unavailable name. Do not make it too similar, or you could drive your business customers to a competitor’s site.
- Choose a name that aptly describes the business.
To search for domain name availability, enter the business name in the search box. If the search returns matches for any extension, choose another business, and take one of the above-mentioned solutions.
If a name has a dot-com extension and a dot net extension is available, choosing the dot-net will only serve as free advertising for another business.
If a dot-com is available, we recommend purchasing that immediately. We also recommend purchasing the dot-net and dot-org pages to go with the dot com so another business owner cannot use these more popular extensions to steal your customers.
Check if the social media name is available
In addition to checking for domain name availability, the business owner should check on social media platforms for name availability. Enter the name in the social media platform’s search box. If the system does not display an exact match – or a name that is too similar – create an account for the business before someone else grabs the name.
Social media is a good way to advertise for very little or nothing. Even if the business owner does not have a personal social media page, it is a quick and cheap way to get the business in front of many eyes.
Naming considerations for Oklahoma business entities
When forming a business in Oklahoma, business owners must follow certain naming conventions when creating a business entity name.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
A business owner who forms a sole proprietorship or a general partnership does not have to register the business. However, should either wish to use a fictitious name, the business owner must register the fictitious name.
The business owner should conduct a name search prior to registering a fictitious name to ensure the name is unique.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
A business owner who decides 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.
The business owner can also abbreviated ‘limited’ as “Ltd.” and ‘company’ as “Co.”
Limited liability partnerships
The business owner who wished to incorporate as a limited liability partnership must append one of the following to the end of the business name:
- Limited liability partnership.
- Registered limited liability partnership.
That Oklahoma statutes do not specify addendums to the business name. However, the statute does say that a business cannot use the following terms:
- Savings and loan.
- Building and loan.
- Savings association.
- Savings bank.
- Any combination of these terms, which could imply the business does banking business.
Nonprofits follow the same naming conventions.
How are business licenses obtained in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma does not have a general business license. However, businesses in certain industries might need a business license. Additionally, local jurisdictions might require businesses to have a license or permit.
Does my business need a registered agent?
Yes. If the business is registered with the Oklahoma Secretary of State, you must have a registered agent. The registered agent ensures that the business stays compliant with state laws. It also accepts service of process and other legal documents on your behalf.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
Yes. If the business has employees, it must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). In some cases, banks, creditors, and vendors might require a business with no employees to obtain a FEIN to do business. A business owner can apply for the FEIN himself or we can do it for him.
Where can a business owner find forms for businesses?
Navigate to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office forms page to locate the forms you need.
Which entity type should I choose for my new business?
We cannot tell you which entity to choose. If you are not sure which entity is best for your business or you do not understand something about a certain entity type, contact a business law attorney for legal advice.
Does my business have to file an annual report?
Yes. If the business is registered with the Secretary of State, it must file an annual report. The registered agent service you choose can ensure you file the annual report on time. If you fail to file an annual report, the Oklahoma Secretary of State could dissolve the business.
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