Texas 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.
Before starting a business, a prospective business owner has to take several steps, including thinking of an entity name, creating a logo, registering the business, and obtaining business licenses. As a business owner brainstorms names, he should keep several things in mind, including whether the name describes the business, is catchy, and can easily be incorporated into the logo. Additionally, the prospective owner should look up names at the state level as he finds a name he likes.
How to search for Texas business names
In Texas, you must create an account to search business names and file documents. While SOSDirect is available all hours of the day and all days of the week, the state charges $1.00 for each entity search. The money supports the “ongoing operations and enhancements of SOSDirect.”
Business owners can create a temporary account for searches if they do not want to create a permanent account. The temporary account only allows for searches – it does not allow business filings and name reservations.
Business owners must ensure that the name they choose is not the same or similar to another business’s name. Business names are public information.
Texas trademark/DBA name search
If a business wishes to protect the business entity name nationally, it must file its name and logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Once the USPTO accepts the filing, no one in the United States can use the business name. As with the state, it must be different from any other filings.
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.
Texas offers trademark filings at the state level. However, this only protects your logo within the state of Texas. If you do not want someone else in another state to use the same business name, you must file a trademark for the trade name at the federal level.
Check if the domain name is available
Before a business registers its name, the business owner should take additional steps to ensure name availability for domain and social media use. The search criteria for the business entity search are the business names the business incorporator is considering. To check names, enter them in the search boxes on each social media platform.
If the business name is available at the state and federal levels – if you choose to file federally – the business should check to see if the domain name is available. The domain name does not have to be the same as the business name. However, it is better if it is the same or similar.
While domain registrars do not allow names that are exactly the same, they do allow similar names. However, the business owner should be careful not to make it too close to another name, even if someone else is using the name. A prospective client could search for the business name and end up on another business’s site.
You can check domain names by going to a domain registrar such as GoDaddy.
Check if the social media name is available
If a business wants the same name for its social media accounts, it should check the platforms it wishes to use. Simply go to the search function for the social media site and enter the business name. If no one else is using the name, it will not show up or may show up as a defunct page – one with no information on it. This search type is different in that the company name can be similar to other names used on social media.
Naming considerations for Texas business entities
When naming a business, you must include certain words, depending on the type of entity you choose. We recommend seeking the help of a business attorney if you have questions about which entity is best for you based on how the Internal Revenue Service taxes entities. Some entities must pay taxes before the shareholders get their share, while others pass through to the members or shareholders.
Additionally, the levels of personal protection are different for the various types of Texas business entities. For example, a corporation protects the individual owners while lawsuits and taxes affect the individual owners of sole proprietorships. Finally, the Secretary of State requires entities to file certain documents, including annual reports.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
A sole proprietorship must include the business owner’s name. Otherwise, there are no other naming conventions and it does not receive a file number or entity number. A business owner can add a DBA or assumed name, but should perform an assumed name search and register the name.
If the business decides to create a limited liability partnership, it must include the words “limited,” “limited partnership,” or an abbreviation of the words. Foreign limited partnerships must follow the same conventions. Only a general partnership, which is not required to register with the Secretary of State, can form a limited liability partnership.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
If the business decides to create a limited liability company, it must include the one of the following in the Texas LLC name:
- Limited liability company;
- Limited company; or
- An abbreviation of either phrase.
If the business is creating a registered series of limited liability companies, the company name must include “registered series,” “RS,” or “R.S.”
Should the business decides to incorporate, whether as a for-profit corporation or a nonprofit corporation, it must use one of the following in the legal name:
- Limited; or
- An abbreviation of those words.
If the company is a professional corporation, it may use “professional corporation.” Foreign corporations must abide by the same naming conventions.
Should the business decide to incorporate as a cooperative association, the name must include the word “cooperative” or an abbreviation of “cooperative.” Foreign cooperative associations must abide by the same naming conventions.
If the business is a professional association, it must include:
- Professional association; or
- The abbreviation of the words or phrase.
Foreign professional associations must abide by the same naming conventions.
Professional limited liability company
A professional limited liability company must have the phrase “professional limited liability company” or an abbreviation of that phrase. Foreign professional limited liability companies must also follow the same naming conventions.
What type of entity should I form?
The type of entity you form depends on how much protection you want from lawsuits against the business and how you want to handle taxes. For example, a business that is incorporated protects the owners against lawsuits unless the individuals pierce to corporate veil. Always seek the help of a business attorney if you do not understand how the IRS treats entities.
Do I have to be a United States citizen to form a business in Texas?
No. However, you must be capable of entering a contract. Restrictions on the business might apply if you are not a U.S. citizen. Consult an attorney before creating a business if you do not have U.S. citizenship or are otherwise not legal.
What is a registered agent?
A person or business that is a Texas resident or entity qualified to do business in Texas. The registered agent receives and forwards official notices from the Secretary of State (SoS), service of process from the courts, and other legal entities. A business must obtain the registered agent’s permission in writing to be named as the registered agent for the business.
Who can create a professional association?
Only certain people can create professional associations, including medical doctors, podiatrists, doctors of osteopathy, psychologists and other mental health professionals, therapeutic optometrists and optometrists, dentists, chiropractors, and veterinarians.
Do I need more than myself to create a corporation?
No. One person can be the director, officer, secretary, president, and sole shareholder of a corporation. However, if the corporation is a nonprofit corporation, the same person cannot be the secretary and the president, and the business must have at least three directors, a president, and a secretary.
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