One of the first steps to when starting a New York business is to perform a New York Business Search. 

The New York Department of State keeps records of New York business entities that exist or have dissolved. 

The business entity database is free to use and makes it easy to find existing businesses or see if a business name may be available.

How to search New York business names

Searching for New York businesses is done through the New York Division of Corporations site.

New York Corporations and LLCs are searchable by the following criteria:

  • Entity Name
  • Name Type
  • Search Type

There are filter options to search by Inactive, Active, Name Type, and by County.

New York entity name

The “Name” search query is the most commonly used when performing a business entity search. Enter in the business name and select “search,” and the search tool will generate any names related to the name entered. 

There is no need to enter phrases like “LLC, Corp, or other naming designations as the database will generate results for every type of entity.

Name type

The Name Type filter allows users to search by active or inactive business names.

New York name search status

If a business struggles to think of a good business name, one way to generate ideas is to look through the search results listings 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 name “BBQ All Stars” could be a good business name, and this business has been dissolved since 2007 so the name is likely available.

If there is a business entity name that is inactive that is of interest it is recommended to call the New York  Department of State. Their phone number is (518) 473-2492

Trademark search

One thing to remember is that even though the desired New York 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.

Next steps

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 company 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 a New York 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 New York business entity

After selecting a business name, businesses can register their incorporation with the New York Department of State

Another option is to file with companies like Northwest Registered AgentIncfile, or ZenBusiness, who can take care of the filings for as little as $0 plus state filing fees.

For further step-by-step instructions on how to file your LLC check out this New York 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. New York corporations can register for a Tax ID for $79 with Swyftfile.

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.

Lili and Novo are online banks that specialize in working with freelancers and entrepreneurs.

We recommend Novo Bank

Built for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers.

8. Setup an email account

Google Workspace can help set up an @yourcompany email address for as little as $6 per month.

Plan on running your business well

Google Workspace helps with email addresses, team collaboration, productivity, and more.

9. Register a trademark

One of the easiest ways to file a trademark is through LegalZoom. They have options to file by themselves or pay an additional fee to have an attorney take care of the filings.

New York business structure naming considerations

When selecting a New York business name, it is important to understand the different naming requirements for each entity type.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships

In New York, sole proprietorships do not have to file with the corporations’ division 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

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 Alabama Secretary of State and must be unique.

A few reminders when naming LLCs:

  • New York 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 New York 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 a New York business name if it is not clearly distinguishable from the other business.

Corporations

Corporations, like LLCs, are separate legal entities that require filing with the corporation commission. 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 typical corporate designation.

FAQs

Is a registered agent required to file an LLC in the state of New York?

A registered agent is designated to receive official papers for your LLC, LLP, or corporation. Individuals can act as their own registered agent as long as a physical address (p.o. box is not allowed) is used in the state where your business entity is formed.

One of the main benefits of using a third-party registered agent company is that it adds a layer of privacy between the business and the general population. The registered agent company receives all documents on a business’s behalf and can mail them to you privately.

Northwest Registered Agent offers free mail forwarding and has a great reputation in the industry.

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Where can I find information on New York business licenses?

Business license information can be found on the New York Department of Revenue website.

Why should I file a trademark? How do I file?

A trademark gives entrepreneurs legal protections over their brand. As your New York business grows, competitors tend to pop up to try and compete against you in the marketplace. 

A trademark sends a message to competitors that may be looking into your niche that you mean business. 

Trademarks can also grow in value as your business grows and increases brand recognition. If you are ever hoping to sell your business down the line, having a solid trademark can add to your valuation.

Suppose your business has a physical product that you are looking to sell on sites like Amazon. In that case, there are special features businesses can access with a registered trademark, which helps prevent infringement on your products.

  • Because the database is very complex to navigate, some people prefer to pay companies like LegalZoom to do the work for them.
  • Check out the LegalZoom Trademark options to see if it makes sense for your limited liability company once you have zeroed in on an entity name.

Does New York require annual reports?

New York does not require LLCs to file annual reports.

How do you reserve a New York business name?

Businesses can file a certificate of reservation which will reserve a business name for 60 days. There is a $20 fee and the form can be filed through the dos.NY.gov website.

Should I file a DBA

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. DBA names are filed with the New York Secretary of State or can be filed with companies like Incfile.com.

Here are a couple of benefits of DBAs:

  1. Expansion possibilities: having a DBA enables businesses to expand past their original business and without starting a new business entity. Simply creating a new DBA and operating under the existing LLC is all that would be needed.
  2. 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.