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The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development requires corporations and LLCs to register a unique business name that is uniquely distinguishable. The intention of the naming rules by the Alaska Corporations Statutes and Regulations is to prevent confusion for consumers by having names that could be too similar. An Alaska Business Name search is the first step in checking whether the intended business name is available.
How to search Alaska business names
The Alaska Department of Commerce maintains a database of business licenses that are registered in the state of Alaska. The database maintains a list of active and expired business licenses that is free for the public to search.
The Corporations database is easy to navigate with the following business entity search options:
The most popular search method for Corporations and LLCs is to perform an entity name search. To perform a search, simply follow the steps below:
- Enter in the name of the desired business name
- Select “search”
The results will populate the following information for each entity name result:
- Entity Type: LLC, Corporation, LLP, Name Registration, Name Reservation, and Professional Corporation
- Entity #
- Entity Name
- Entity Name Type
- Business Status
There is no need to Enter LLC, Corp, or any other entity type into the search field, and the database does not generate results for Sole Proprietorships or Partnerships.
To search by an Entity ID:
- Enter the Alaska Business ID number
- Select “Search”
The Database will generate results for any entity type with the entity number selected.
Searching by corporate officials is another common way to look up Alaska Business Names.
- To search by an official, navigate to the search by official tab.
- There will be search options to search by first or last name.
Searching by a registered agent is very similar to searching by an official.
- Navigate to the search by registered agent section
- Search by first or last name.
Business and professional license numbers
The Alaska Department of Commerce also allows users to search by business and professional licenses.
- Enter the desired license number
- Select “search” to generate results.
Alaska name search status
If a business is struggling to think of a good business name, one way to generate ideas is to look through the search results list to see if any expired names could fit the business.
For example, if someone wanted to open up a new BBQ restaurant, they could enter “BBQ” into the search bar and generate a list of ideas that are available based on the business status results:
The status description will give business owners ideas of potential names based on how they are classified:
- Good standing/active: Indicates that the business is in good standing with the state and the name is not available
- Involuntarily dissolved: The state dissolves businesses that have not filed the required forms per the Alaska Statutes. If they have been dissolved for longer than two years, their business name is available to the public. For Businesses less than two years out from dissolution, it is best to call the Alaska division of the Corporation, and they can provide additional clarification on naming availability. Their number is: (907) 269-8160.
- Withdrawn: If an existing name has a “Withdrawn” business status, the name is available to be used by a new entity.
- Expired name: Businesses have exclusive rights to a business name when filing a Business Name Registration for five years. If a business fails to renew its business entity, the name could become available if the owners do not extend the business license.
One thing to remember is that even though the desired business name may be available, it could have a registered trademark. Performing a trademark search through the Trademark Electronic Search System before selecting a business name could prevent headaches in the future.
1. Check if the domain name is available
- Many of the .com domain names with six or fewer letters are already taken, so getting creative may be necessary. Websites like Namechk and GoDaddy can help filter available domain names and suggest alternatives that may be a good fit.
- While a .com is the most familiar domain extension used, extensions like .co, .net, and .io are becoming more commonly used as the internet ages and can be a good fit once a business name is selected.
2. Check if the social media name is available
In the digital age, it is essential to have a solid social media presence. Customers will often check sites like Yelp and Google Reviews to gauge what others think about a business. Some other tips on social media for an Alaska business entity:
- Having a strong social media presence for small businesses is an excellent way to boost organic presence on the web, impress customers, and build awareness.
- Unfortunately, like domain names, social media handles are often hoarded. Make sure to check sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to ensure the handle is not being used.
- If the handle is available, lock the username in place to make sure it is not taken.
- Software platforms like SocialPilot can help simplify managing various social media platforms.
3. Register Alaska business entity
Business Licenses can be filed online with the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing.
For further step-by-step instructions on how to file your LLC check out this Alaska LLC Guide.
4. Register TAX ID/EIN with the IRS
An EIN is a nine-digit number that identifies a business for tax purposes. Think of it as a social security number for businesses. Filing your EIN for a limited liability company (LLC) is straightforward and can be done online. Alaska corporations can register for a Tax ID for $79 with Swyft Filings.
5. Create a logo
Similar to selecting a good business name, businesses with a great logo impress customers, help distinguish themselves from the competition, and create a positive visual memory of your unique business services for customers.
With the emergence of freelance marketplaces, it is easy to get a logo done on Fiverr in 24 hours or less.
6. Write a business plan
Writing a business plan can help organize business owners’ ideas and create a pathway for businesses to follow. Having a professionally written business plan also impresses investors and helps create accountability.
Liveplan.com is a business plan software that can help make the process easy as they have over 500 sample plans to choose from.
Businesses that form partnerships should consider having a professional operating agreement.
7. Open a business bank account
Having a business bank account is required for businesses as it helps keep business and personal finances separate. It also helps build business credibility in the event business loans are needed to grow the business in the future.
Businesses must have a business mailing address in order to open a business bank account and are not allowed to use a po box as their primary mailing address.
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Plan on running your business well
Alaska business structure naming considerations
When selecting an Alaska business name, it is important to understand the different naming requirements for each entity type.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
In Alaska, sole proprietorships do not have to file with the department of commerce to begin business operations. Sole Proprietorships typically operate under a person’s name, so there is no need to perform a business name search in most situations.
Like Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships are relatively easy to file and generally include all partners’ last names (ex: Smith, Jones, and Lasalle).
LLCs are separate legal entities that separate owners’ business interests, debts, and liabilities from personal responsibilities. Names for LLCs are required to be filed with the Secretary of State and must be unique.
A few reminders when naming LLCs:
- Alaska business names must include the words “LLC, L.L.C., or the phrase limited liability company. “LLC” is most commonly used after a business name, so we recommend using that abbreviation when filing Alaska articles of organization.
- An LLC name should not include the terms Inc., Corporation, Corp, or Incorporated in the LLC name.
- The state may not approve an Alaska business name if it is not clearly distinguishable from the other business.
Corporations, like LLCs, are separate legal entities that require filing with the Alaska Division of corporations. Corporations are fairly complex and typically used by large companies looking to issue stock and attract investors.
Corporation naming considerations:
- Corporations must include “corp”, “corporation”, “Inc”, “limited”, or “company” in the business name to indicate that it is a corporation.
- S Corporations are subject to the same naming requirements as traditional corporations.
- Professional Corporations must indicate that they are one by using “professional corporation” by using the letters “PC” instead of the typical corporate designation.
Key tip: Under Alaska business license statute 43.70, there are no restrictions on how many business licenses may have the same name. Exclusive rights to a business name are achieved by filing an Alaska business name reservation or by filing a business name registration.
Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah are the only states without a Secretary of State position. The Alaska Lieutenant Governor is in charge of a typical Secretary of State’s responsibilities. The Department of Commerce has offices in Juneau and Anchorage.
It is important to understand naming restrictions before registering for an Alaska business. Below are some of the most common restrictions:
- Businesses may not imply that they are a governmental unit (city, village, borough)
- Vulgar names are not allowed
- Names that mislead are not allowed
- Words used to identify an internet domain name
A Biennial Report must be filed by Alaska corporations every two years to help ensure that the company mailing address, physical address, and contact information are up to date.
- For-Profit companies’ biennial reports are due by January 2nd of every other year.
- Non-Profit corporations, Religious corporations, and cooperative’s biennial reports are due by July 2nd of every 2nd year.
A DBA (doing business as), or trade name, is a fictitious business name that companies operate under for business outside of the formal LLC name. Here are a couple of benefits of DBAs:
- Expansion possibilities: having a DBA enables businesses to expand past their original business without starting a new business entity. Simply creating a new DBA and operating under the existing LLC is all that would be needed.
- Privacy: One of the best benefits of having a DBA is that it gives businesses the ability to operate under a fictitious business name and not have owners’ names revealed publicly.
Alaska Statutes state a Corporation continuously maintains a registered agent and a registered office for the purpose of a registered agent‘s statutory requirements.
One of the main benefits of using a third-party registered agent service company is that it adds a layer of privacy between the business and the general population. The registered agent receives all documents on a business’s behalf and can mail them to you privately. We recommend Northwest Registered Agent.