Are you looking for a California business name? It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to start a business, or just want to learn more about the California LLC process.

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How to Search for a California LLC Name

The Secretary of State website offers a simple Search Page where you can enter your business name and conduct a search.

It’s great if it’s available! It’s possible to reserve it or put it on your Articles of Organization. You’ll have to find a new one if it’s in use.

To find information about an existing business, choose the type of business (corporation or LLC/LP), and then enter the full business name (or Entity Number) to get your results. You’ll probably only get one result if you provide an exact number or name, but you might receive multiple results if you provide partial names or keywords.

The following information will be revealed if you click on any of the listed businesses:

  • Number of Entity
  • Name of the entity
  • Register Date
  • State of Jurisdiction
  • Domestic or foreign
  • Status (active, canceled, etc.)
  • Agent for Service of Process Name & Address
  • Address of the entity
  • Filing Dates and Filed Documents

This information can be extremely helpful if your goal is to reach the managers or members of another company or simply check up on your own.

California Secretary of State Contact Info

For questions, you can contact the California Secretary of State office. The LLC Department phone number is 916-653-3794. Hours are 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, Pacific Time.

California Secretary of State
916-653-3794 (LLC Department)
916-657-5448 (Business Programs)
Address: 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
California Secretary of State: Business Programs
California Secretary of State: Contact Information



CA Secretary of State: Name Availability
CA Secretary of State: Status Definitions
CA Secretary of State: Business Search Tips
CA Secretary of State: Business Entity Names
CA Revised Uniform LLC Act: Section 17701.08
CA Revised Uniform LLC Act: Section 17701.09
CA Secretary of State: Name Availability Inquiry Letter
CA Code of Regulations: Chapter 8.5 (Business Entity Names)
CA Secretary of State: Announces New California Business Search Tool
CA Secretary of State: Business Entity Name Regulations and Statutory Requirements


What happens if my name is not available?

You went to the Business Search and typed in your name. The search returned your ideal name. Now what? Your only option is to brainstorm ideas for a new LLC if your LLC is domestic (formed under California law). Don’t choose one that is too similar.
Once you have found a suitable name, either form an LLC or keep the name available for future uses.If you are a foreign LLC owner, there are additional steps.
If you are a foreign LLC, there are additional steps. You can use an alternate name to register your Application for Registration, when you file to obtain the foreign qualification.

How to make a California LLC name distinguishable

All California business names must comply with the state’s naming requirements, whether they are registered or not. These requirements require that your LLC name:

  • End with “Limited Liability Company”, which can be abbreviated as L.L.C. LLC.
  • Do not include the words “bank”, “trust,” or “trustee,” nor suggest that it is an insurance company or banking company.
  • You must be distinguished from other business entity names in the California Secretary Of State record.
  • Don’t mislead the public. If you own a dry cleaner, for example, your business name should not be “New Company Construction.”

How do you distinguish a name? The state has some guidelines. California Code Section 211005.5 states that a name can be distinguished if it contains one or more distinct letters or numerals or a different sequence that is clearly recognizable by means or sight by the Secretary. This means that any changes in capitalization, punctuation and/or spacing cannot be used to distinguish one name from the other.

To create a distinctive name, you need to change the name itself. You need a creative way to differentiate your name. You can use a unique spelling or reorder the words to find a synonym or add/subtract a word. Your name will still be identifiable without having to change it.

What’s Next?

Your goal will determine what you do next. If your California name availability is good, you can reserve it or use it in your Articles of Organization.

A California business name reservation costs $10 and keeps your name for 60 consecutive days. You can also use your Articles of Organization name to register your LLC.

There are many reasons to search for an LLC name

Although California LLC name availability is most commonly searched for, it’s not the only reason. These are just a few of the reasons to search for a name.

1) Searching for similar names

Potential customers shouldn’t confuse you with another company, even if it is a competitor. Although your proposed name may be available, there might be other businesses with similar names. This could be a reason to change your name if you don’t want your LLC mixed up with other companies.

2) Verify Your Business Status

After you have filed the Articles of Organization, and created your California LLC you can check its status periodically by searching for your name. This will confirm that your business is in good standing with California and give you your Entity Number. You may also need this number for some filings.

3) Agent for Service of Process Name and Office Information

You might have to send a business process. You might also want to partner with them. You’ll need their California agent to serve processname. Also, your office address. This information is easily found through a name search.

4) Maintaining current business information

You will need to verify the information the Secretary of State has on file when you modify the LLC’s information, such as changing the agent for service or the principal address to a member. This can be done by a name search.

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