May 28, 2024
Travis Palmer

How to Check for Business Name Availability: A Step-by-Step Guide

Choosing a name for your business is an exciting step, but it’s crucial to ensure that your chosen name is unique and legally available. Checking for business name availability can prevent legal issues and help establish a strong brand identity. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you check for business name availability.

1. Understand the Importance of Name Availability

Before diving into the steps, it's important to understand why checking for name availability is crucial.

Reasons to Check Name Availability

  • Legal Compliance: Ensure your business name complies with local, state, and federal regulations.
  • Avoid Legal Issues: Prevent potential legal disputes and trademark infringement.
  • Brand Protection: Protect your brand identity and avoid confusion with existing businesses.
  • Domain Availability: Ensure the corresponding domain name is available for your online presence.

2. Brainstorm and List Potential Names

Start by brainstorming a list of potential business names that align with your brand identity.

Tips for Brainstorming

  • Reflect Your Brand: Choose names that reflect your business’s mission, values, and target audience.
  • Keep It Simple: Aim for names that are easy to spell, pronounce, and remember.
  • Be Unique: Ensure the names stand out from competitors.

3. Conduct a Preliminary Online Search

A preliminary online search can help you identify any obvious conflicts with existing businesses.

How to Conduct an Online Search

  • Search Engines: Use search engines like Google to look up your potential business names.
  • Social Media Platforms: Check social media platforms to see if the names are already in use.
  • Business Directories: Look through online business directories to find similar names.

4. Check Domain Name Availability

Having a matching domain name is important for your online presence. Check if the domain name is available for your chosen business name.

How to Check Domain Availability

  • Domain Registrars: Use domain registrar websites like GoDaddy, Namecheap, or Bluehost to search for domain availability.
  • Domain Extensions: Consider different domain extensions if the .com is unavailable (e.g., .net, .co).

5. Conduct a Trademark Search

A trademark search helps you ensure that your chosen name isn’t already trademarked by another business.

How to Conduct a Trademark Search

  • USPTO Database: Use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) online database to search for existing trademarks.
  • State Trademark Databases: Check your state’s trademark database for any existing trademarks.
  • International Trademark Search: If you plan to operate internationally, conduct a search through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) database.

6. Check Your State’s Business Name Database

Each state has a database where you can check if your chosen business name is already registered.

How to Check State Databases

  • Secretary of State Website: Visit your state’s Secretary of State website and use their business name search tool.
  • Business Name Search Tool: Enter your potential names to see if they are already in use or reserved.
  • Consider Variations: Check for variations of your chosen name to ensure there are no conflicts.

7. Verify Domain and Social Media Handles

Ensure consistency in your branding by securing matching domain names and social media handles.

How to Verify Handles

  • Check Social Media Platforms: Use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to check if your desired handles are available.
  • Domain Verification Tools: Some tools like Namecheckr allow you to check domain and social media handle availability simultaneously.

8. Consult a Legal Professional

Consulting a legal professional can help you navigate the complexities of business name registration and trademark laws.

Benefits of Legal Consultation

  • Legal Advice: Get expert advice on name availability and trademark issues.
  • Trademark Registration: Assistance with the trademark registration process.
  • Avoid Legal Issues: Ensure your business name is fully compliant with all regulations.

9. Register Your Business Name

Once you’ve confirmed that your business name is available, the next step is to register it officially.

How to Register Your Business Name

  • File a DBA: If you’re operating under a different name than your legal business name, file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) with your local government.
  • Business Entity Registration: Register your business name when forming a corporation, LLC, or partnership.
  • Trademark Registration: Register your business name as a trademark to protect your brand legally.

10. Secure Your Online Presence

Finally, secure your online presence by purchasing your domain name and setting up social media profiles.

Steps to Secure Your Online Presence

  • Purchase Domain Name: Buy your chosen domain name through a domain registrar.
  • Create Social Media Profiles: Set up profiles on major social media platforms with your business name.
  • Build a Website: Develop a professional website to establish your online presence.


Checking for business name availability is a critical step in establishing your brand and ensuring legal compliance. By understanding the importance of name availability, brainstorming potential names, conducting online and trademark searches, consulting a legal professional, and securing your online presence, you can confidently choose a name that sets your business up for success.

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About the Author

With over 20 years of experience in the business loan marketplace at Approvd, our expert has helped countless small business owners navigate the complexities of securing the right funding. Passionate about empowering entrepreneurs, our expert combines industry knowledge with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by small businesses today.

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