One of the first steps to take when starting an Oregon business is to perform an Oregon Business Search. 

The Oregon Secretary of State keeps an organized log of Oregon business entities that exist or have dissolved.  

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

How to search Oregon business names

The Oregon Secretary of State maintains a database of corporations that are registered in the state of Oregon. 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:

  • Business Name
  • Registry Number
  • Individual

Additional filter options can be selected to search for: business name availability, exact words, sound-like words, active and inactive business names.

Business name

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:

  1. Enter in the name of the desired business name 
  2. Select “search”

The results will populate the following information for each entity name result:

  • Entity Type
  • Entity Status
  • Registry Number
  • Name Status
  • Name

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.

Registry number

To search by a Registry Number:

  1. Enter the Oregon Registry Number
  2. Select “Search” 

The Database will generate results for any entity type with the entity number selected.

Individual

The search by individual options are broken down into the following subcategories to help identify people associated with a particular business entity::

  • Agent
  • General Partner
  • Member
  • Manager
  • Secretary
  • Trustee
  • Registrant
  • Secretary

 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 inactive list of Oregon business names to see if any may be a good fit. 

For example, if someone wanted to open up a new BBQ restaurant, they could enter “BBQ” into the search bar and filter the options by “Inactive.”

The results will generate business names that are inactive in the State of Oregon and may be available. If there is a name that seems to be a good fit, it is best to reach out to the Oregon Secretary of State to confirm the name is available. They can be reached in Salem at 503-986-1523

Trademark search

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.

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 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 Oregon 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 Oregon business entity

Business Licenses can be filed online with the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing.

Another option is to file with companies like  Northwest Registered AgentIncfile, or ZenBusiness, which 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 Oregon 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.

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.

Oregon business structure naming considerations

When selecting an Oregon business name, it is important to understand the different naming requirements for each of the different entity types.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships

In Oregon, sole proprietorships do not have to file with the Oregon Secretary of State 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:

  • Oregon 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 Oregon 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 Oregon 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 Oregon Secretary of State.. 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

How do you reserve an Oregon business name?

To reserve a business name with the Secretary of State, an Application for Name Reservation form must be submitted. 

It costs $100 to reserve a business name and they last for 120 days.

Does registering an Oregon business name mean that I have a business license?

When you register a business name that does not mean those license requirements for particular industries are filed. Oregon does not have a licensing department, but there is a state license directory through the Oregon.gov site that can help determine which industries require them.

What makes an Oregon business name distinguishable?

The Secretary of State is required by law to accept names that are distinguishable from other names on record. The intention of the distinguishable name requirement is to prevent confusion for the public.

Where are the Oregon business forms?

The Oregon business forms for registering a business name and other annual filing requirements are found on the Secretary of State website under the forms page.

Should I file an Oregon 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. 

Here are a couple of benefits of DBAs:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Does Oregon require a registered agent?

Oregon Statutes states 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.

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