Vermont 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 Vermont business names
Before registering a new business entity name in Vermont, prospective owners must search the Vermont Secretary of State’s office for name availability. The Vermont Secretary of State’s office will not accept names that are an exact match or that are similar to names already registered.
To search for business names:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Vermont Secretary of State’s search tool to start entering search criteria.
- Step 2: Select the radio button labeled ‘Starts With.”
- Step 3: Select the radio button labeled ‘Business Name.”
- Step 4: Enter the business name in the search box.
- Step 5: Uncheck the check box labeled ‘Show me similar sounding business names’ if checked.
- Step 6: Leave all boxes in the Advanced Search empty.
- Step 7: Click the ‘Search’ button.
- Step 8: If no results are displayed, repeat the search, except change the radio button at the top to “Contains.”
- Step 9: Review search results for exact matches and similar names. If either exists, the business owner must choose a different business name.
How to register a business name in Vermont
Once a business owner chooses a business name, she must choose an entity type. If a business owner is unsure which entity type is best for her business, she should contact a business law attorney.
Each entity type has tax consequences. For example, profits from corporations are taxed at the corporate level before they are paid to the board of directors, then taxed again on the board of directors’ personal taxes. On the other hand, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes limited liability companies on the members’ personal taxes only.
Also, certain entity types do not provide protection of personal assets from corporate creditors and lawsuits.
To register a business in Vermont, navigate to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Online Business Service Center. Create a user account to start registering a business entity.
Vermont trademark/DBA name search
Some business owners wish to register trademarks or service marks. A business owner can register a trademark or service mark in Vermont. However, any intellectual property filed in Vermont is only protected in Vermont. If a business owner wants to protect intellectual property on a national basis, he must file the intellectual property with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
To search for trademarks and service marks in Vermont:
- Step 1: Navigate to the Vermont Secretary of State’s trademark search tool.
- Step 2: Select the radio button for search type to ‘Contains.’
- Step 3: Select the radio button for ‘Mark Description.’
- Step 4: Enter keywords or a description of the trademark or service mark.
- Step 5: Uncheck the checkbox for ‘Show me similar sounding Trademark names’ if checked.
- Step 6: Ensure the registration type is set to ‘Trademark.’
- Step 7: Leave all other boxes empty.
- Step 8: Click the ‘Search’ button.
- Step 9: Review the results to determine whether another business or individual has already registered the intellectual property or something similar. If it is too similar or the system finds an exact match, create a new trademark or service mark.
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.
Businesses with an internet presence have the benefit of low-cost advertising. Domain registries do not allow businesses to use a name if someone else is using it. Another individual or business might be using the same company name, so a business owner must conduct a search prior to registering a domain name.
To search for a domain name, navigate to any domain registry, such as GoDaddy. Enter the business name in the search bar. The domain registry will advise as to whether the name is available.
If a domain name is not available
If the name is not available as a dot-com but is available as a dot-net, we do not recommend using the name. Customers could become confused and end up on a competitor’s website. Instead, choose a different name.
If the name is available as a dot-com, we recommend reserving the dot-net and dot-org extensions. Other common extensions a business owner might consider reserving include dot-us and dot-store. The business owner could create landing pages on those sites and have the landing pages point to the main dot-com site.
Check if the social media name is available
Social media platforms are another method of getting a business in front of more eyes. To check name availability on any social media site, enter the name in the search bar. If the name is available, create an account for the business.
If the name is not available, choose a different name or a similar name. However, do not make the name so similar that it confuses people and sends them to a competitor’s page.
Naming considerations for Vermont business entities
Vermont statutes dictate how a business owner can name a company. The state puts many of the naming conventions on one easy-to-read page. A business owner must still add certain phrases, words or abbreviations to some business names.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
Business owners who choose to create a sole proprietorship or a general partnership do not have to register with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office as long as they use the owner’s and partners’ surnames as the business name.
Should either wish to use a ‘doing business as’ name (DBA), those business owners must register the trade name (DBA) with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. However, a business owner does not have to append an entity type to the trade name.
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not protect business owners’ personal assets from corporate creditors and lawsuits. Should a business owner want that type of protection, he should choose a different entity type, such as a limited liability company or a corporation.
Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)
Business owners who choose 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.
Business owners may also opt to abbreviate ‘limited’ as “Ltd.” and ‘company’ as “Co.”
Additionally, Vermont allows low-profit limited liability companies. Those who incorporate as such must append the abbreviation ‘L3C’ to the business name.
Business owners who choose to incorporate as a limited partnership must append one of the following to the business name:
- Limited partnership.
Limited liability partnerships
Business owners who choose to incorporate as a limited liability partnership must append one of the following to the business name:
- Registered limited liability partnership.
- Limited liability partnership.
Business owners who choose to incorporate as a corporation must append one of the following to the business name:
Nonprofits are not required to append an entity type at the end of their business name.
Business owners who choose to incorporate as a professional corporation must append one of the following at the end of the business name:
- Professional corporation.
- Professional association.
- Service corporation.
How are business licenses obtained in Vermont?
Vermont does not require businesses to have a general business license at the state level. However, counties and cities might require businesses to obtain a business license. The state and certain local jurisdictions might also require certain industry types to obtain licenses.
How do I find out if a vendor or creditor placed a lien on my business or business property?
To learn whether a vendor or creditor placed a lien on a business’s equipment or property, navigate to Vermont’s UCC filing search page.
Does my business need a Federal Employer Identification Number?
If a business has employees, it must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). In some cases, banks, vendors, and creditors might require a business to obtain a FEIN, even if the business does not have employees. A business owner can apply for a FEIN, or we can obtain the FEIN for the business owner.
Does my business have to have a registered agent?
Yes, if the business is registered with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, the business must have a registered agent. The registered agent ensures the business remains in compliance with state laws. The agent also accepts service of process and other legal documents, which keeps them from employees’ and customers’ prying eyes.
Does my business have to file an annual report?
Yes, if the business is registered by the Vermont Secretary of State, it must file an annual report if it is a limited liability company, L3C, or PLC. all other entity types of entities must file a biennial report.
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