Whether you’re searching for the ideal business name for your Pennsylvania S Corp or Pennsylvania C Corp, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct a PA Department of State business search, plus business naming rules, fictitious names and trademarks.
General Rules for Corporation Names
These rules generally apply to all corporations, wherever they're formed.
The name you choose cannot be in use by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform a Pennsylvania State corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your corporation name to be unique. It also cannot be similar to the name of another business in the state. In addition, you cannot use any of the following features in an attempt to differentiate your corporation name from that of another business:
- Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., etc.
- Definite articles, such as “A,” “An,” or “The”
- The conjunction "And," or “&"
- Numbers in place of numerals (or vice versa), e.g., "One World" is the same as "1 World"
- The singular, plural or possessive forms of words
- Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.
All corporations must use one of the following in their names, usually at the end of the name: “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Limited” or their abbreviations.
Most states will not allow you to incorporate with names that:
- Are similar to the name of a federal or state agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, Pennsylvania Department of Labor, Pennsylvania Rangers, Treasury, etc.)
- Suggest affiliation with a federal or state agency or organization
- Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the International Olympic Committee
- Imply a purpose that would be illegal for your business to carry out
Specific Rules for Pennsylvania Business Names
Unlike many states, you won't need to follow certain naming rules in addition to the general rules listed above. The state of Pennsylvania simply states within the statutes Title 15, Chapter 2, § 203 that the name of a corporation or foreign corporation must contain "the word "corporation," "company," "incorporated" or "limited" or an abbreviation of any of the terms."
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The ideal business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the perfect business name, but essentially, you'll want to choose a name that will:
Need help coming up with business name ideas? Try our free name generator.
Pennsylvania Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of the name you want, perform an PA corporation search to make sure that name isn't already being used by another company.
You can use the state's entity search to check for name availability.
You can also use our simple and convenient Business Name Search Tool, which will search the state's business registry for you.
Trademarks and Service Marks
You must be careful that your Pennsylvania corporation name doesn't infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. The easiest way to ensure you're not infringing is to perform a trademark search through Bizee. If the trademark isn't already in use, you can even register it yourself.
Register a DBA in Pennsylvania
You may do business under a name different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as a trade name, assumed name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's a fictitious name in Pennsylvania. You may decide to use a fictitious name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called Appalachian Hospitality, Inc., and you have a chain called Appalachian Valley Tours. You could register a fictitious name just for that brand. You'd do that by filing a form for the Registration of Fictitious Name, or you can have Bizee do it on your behalf with our DBA service.
In addition to filing the Registration form, you must also officially publish a notice that you have filed or intend to file an application for registration of the fictitious name. The notice should be published in two newspapers of general circulation in the county in which the business will be located, one of which must be a legal newspaper. If there is only one newspaper of general circulation in the county, advertisement in that newspaper is sufficient. The Department of State has provided a list of legal publications to make this process easier.
In order to keep your business names unique, you can also use the Pennsylvania business entity search. You can perform a Pennsylvania fictitious name search to find out whether any other companies are already using the fictitious name you want. We can also help you with this via our DBA name service.
Important: Registration of a fictitious name does not give you exclusive rights to use the fictitious name. There are no ownership rights to a fictitious name meaning other individuals or entities may register the same fictitious name.
Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.
Register Your Business Name with the PA Department of State
You’ve performed a Pennsylvania DOS business search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need a fictitious name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.