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State-by-State Business Name Restrictions: What You Cannot Have in Your Company Name

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    “What's in a name?” asked Juliet. Four centuries later, we know that a lot rides on a name, especially when it comes to your business. Your business name impacts branding strategy, customer perception, growth and overall success. And while selecting your business name can be fun, it might also be one of the toughest choices you’ll make. The process isn’t as simple and "carefree" as you may think either. 

    Did you know there are certain business name registration guidelines that you need to abide by while narrowing down the perfect name? And, if your business name isn't up to snuff, legally speaking, you stand to undo all the hard work you've put into starting a business and building an identity. In some cases, an inappropriate business name can even leave you vulnerable to a lawsuit.

    Here’s the breakdown of what each state allows and doesn’t allow when it comes to business names. Knowing the laws that govern business entity names will go a long way in ensuring your name is appropriate and protected.

    Try Our Free Business Name Search Tool.

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    The Name Game — Rules That Apply

    Before we jump into looking at business name restrictions in each state, let’s cover some general guidelines that apply across all states and business structures. This section addresses concerns like, “Can you use a state name in a business name?” and “Are there any business name restrictions based on the type of entity you have?”

    There are several federal and state laws that govern how you can name your business. Furthermore, your business's structure also impacts the naming rules and requirements. Here are a few common business name registration guidelines that are applicable across most states.

    Common Business Name Guidelines Across States

    • You cannot use business entity identifiers like "LLC," “Limited Liability Corporation,” “Corporation” or “Inc.” if the business hasn’t been formally registered under the same. On the other hand, if your business is registered as a corporation or LLC, then some form of the identifier must be included in the name be included in the name
    • The name cannot use any words that can confuse your business with a government agency or unit (FBI, Treasury, State Department, village, city). Words that commonly denote governmental organization include “Agency,” “Commission,” “Department,” “Bureau,” “Division,” “Municipal” or “Board" are also prohibited.
    • Professional licensing is required for use of words like “Doctor,” “Attorney” or “Certified Public Accountant (CPA).”
    • You cannot use words like “bank,” “insurance,” “trustee” or “trust” without permission. 
    • Names shouldn’t be deceptively close to another business name. For example, The Finish Line Company and A Finish Line Company are deceptively close names.
    • The business name should in no way mislead the customer. 
    • No use of offensive, racial or derogatory words are allowed. 

    The above are just general guidelines. Each state has its own naming laws and restrictions that should be kept in mind while you’re coming up with a business name

    State-by-State Business Name Restrictions

    StateBusiness Name Restrictions (for Corps & LLCs)/ Requiring Additional Documentation


    Bank, Banking, Banc, Engineer, Engineering, Olympic


    City, Borough or Village, or any words that otherwise imply that the company is a government body


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Banc, Banco, Deposit, Trust, Trust Company


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Attorney, University


    Bank, Banker, Credit Union, Trust, Trustee, Olympic, Olympiad

    *The name of an LLC may not include the words insurer or insurance company


    Bank, Trust, Trustee, Olympic


    Bank, Insurance Company, Trust Company, Olympic


    Bank, Banking, Banc, College, University


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Attorney, University, Olympic


    Bank, Banc, Banker, College, Credit union, Fidelity, Insurance, Olympic, Reinsurance, Reassurance, Surety, Trust, Trustee, Indemnity, University

    *LLC names cannot exceed 80 characters


    Accountant, Financial Institution, Bank, Banker, Banking, Banc, Savings Bank, Savings and Loan, Savings Association, Financial Services Loan Company, Credit Union, Trust Company, Intrapacific Bank, International Banking Corporation, Trust, Olympic, Olympiad, Citius Altius Fortius, Insurance

    *No use of purely geographic names or landmarks registered with a recognized historical registry like "Honolulu," "Olomana," "Wailuku, Maui," "Kailua, Oahu," "Diamond Head," "Aloha Tower," "Pearl Harbor"


    Bank, Banc, Banking, Engineering, Engineer


    Bank, Banking, Fiduciary, Insurance, Trust, Trustee


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance and Credit Union


    Bank, Banks, Banking, Banc




    Bank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Building, Loan, Homestead, Insurance, Casualty, Redevelopment Corporation, Electric Cooperative, Credit Union


    Savings, Savings Bank, Bank, Banker, Banking, Trust, Trust Company, Trust and Banking Company, Credit Union or the plural or any derivatives of these terms


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union


    Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Government, PX, GI, Fire, Police, State, Federal


    Academy, Architecture, Bank, Banking, Banc, Deposit, Insurance, Co-Op, Credit Union, Surety, Security, Trust, Trust Company


    Attorney, Bank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union, University


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union


    Cooperative, Bank, Insurance Company, Redevelopment


    Bank, Banker, Banking


    Bank, Banker, Banking


    Accounting, Accountant, Accountancy, Auditing, Auditor, Insurance, Bank, Debt Collection, Trust, Engineer, Engineered, Engineering, Professional Engineer, Registered Engineer, Licensed Engineer

    New Hampshire

    Bank, Cooperative, College, Credit Union, Dartmouth, Engineer, Engineering, Farmer’s Market, Forestry, Forester, University

    New Jersey

    Bank, Banker, Banking, Blind, Little League, Olympic, Olympiad, Handicapped, Cemetery, Postal, Realtor, Trust, Underwriters

    New Mexico

    Bank, Banker, Banking, Olympic

    New York

    Bank, Benefit, Blind, Board of Trade, Chamber of Commerce, Community Renewal, Corporation, History, Incorporated, Partnership, State Police, State Trooper, Tenant Relocation, Urban Development, Urban Relocation, United Nations

    North Carolina

    Architect, Architecture, Architectural, Bank, Banker, Banking, Certified Public Accountant, Cooperative, Co-op, Engineer, Engineering, Mutual, Trust, Insurance, Surveyor, Survey, Surveying, Wholesale

    North Dakota

    Bank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Farming, Farm, Farmer, Insurance


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Trust and words/phrases that are profane or considered a slur against an ethnic group, religion, gender or heredity


    Bank, Banker Farming, Farm, Farmer, Savings, Loans, Trust


    Bank, Banking, Trust, Trustee or any obscene language


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Cooperative, College, Credit Union, Engineering, Loans, Savings, Seminary, Surveyor, Trust, Trustee, University, Public Accountant, Certified Public Accountant

    Rhode Island

    Bank, Banker, Banking, Trust, Olympic

    South Carolina

    Bank, Banking, Savings, Olympic

    South Dakota

    Bank, Banking, Banker


    Bank, Credit Union, Mortgage, Trust, Trustee

    *Any business affiliated with, or sponsored by, any fraternal, veterans’, service, religious, charitable or professional organization needs to be certified in writing


    Bank, Cooperative, Insurance, Lottery, Lotto, Veteran, Legion, Spanish, Trust, Foreign, War, Disabled, War, World War, Olympia, Olympics, University


    College, University, Olympics, Olympia


    Bank, Banker, Banking, Insurance


    Bank, Trust, Insurance


    Association, Bank, Banker, Banking, Cooperative, Home, Industrial, Loan, Savings, Society, Trust

    West Virginia

    Accountant, Architect, Engineering, Doctor


    Insurance, Trust, Bank


    Education, School, College, University, Bank, Banking

    We’ve provided an overview of prevalent business name restrictions in each state; however, this is not a comprehensive list and doesn't replace legal research. Furthermore, states can change their requirements at any given moment.

    If you've selected a name for your startup through a business name generator or your own brainstorming, here’s what you can do to make sure the name is distinguishable, legal and available. 

    Steps to Ensure Your Name Is on the Right Side of the Law

    Selecting a name that is not abiding by the law is one of the top mistakes you want to avoid. Follow these steps and get a business name that’s distinguishable and meets the latest federal and state requirements. When done right, this process will save you significant time and investment. 

    Check with State Secretary on Naming Requirements

    While most states have similar naming statutes, there are a few variations. In addition, name reservation, renewal and transferability laws also differ by state. All of these can be frequently updated or changed without any notice. Therefore, it’s best you check your state’s website for the latest guidelines on any restrictions on the name of a company.

    Conduct a Name Search 

    Came up with the perfect name that is void of any restrictions? Great! The next step is to find out if the business name is already registered. There are a variety of ways to check whether your desired name is legally available. Run a search through Bizee’s free Business Name Search Tool to identify if your proposed name is available with the Secretary of State.

    You can also run a trademark search with the United States Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO). This is particularly helpful if your business deals in more than one state. If a name is trademarked, it’s protected across all 50 states. 

    Consult a Lawyer 

    For any legal guidance, it’s always best to consult a lawyer to make sure all your bases are covered. Naming a business is serious and any misstep can result in a rejected filing or other legal implications. Work with a lawyer and make sure your proposed name is legit and protected. 

    What's in a Business Name? A Lot!

    Simply put, there’s a lot riding on your business name — once it’s in place, you can build your business’s entire structure and identity around it. But, finding a perfect name that meets all the above criteria can be quite an undertaking. Discovering that you’ve filed for an inappropriate name after you have done all the hard work of getting a company off the ground can be quite a setback. 

    However, remember that Bizee is there to help you brainstorm, identify and even register the most appropriate name on your behalf whenever you're ready to start your business. Working with Bizee to generate and register your business name will ensure your business and its name are protected from day one.

    Try Our Free Business Name Search Tool.

    Check the Availability of Your Business Name.

    Get Started Today
    Swara Ahluwalia

    Swara Ahluwalia

    Swara Ahluwalia is a freelance content writer with experience in the technical, B2B and SaaS domain. She also has curated content for various lifestyle brands. In her downtime, you will most likely find Swara training for her next marathon or spending time with her two daughters.


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