If you’re searching for the perfect business name for your Washington C Corporation, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on how to conduct a Washington SOS business search, plus business naming rules, trade names and trademarks.
General Rules for Corporation Names
These rules generally apply to all corporations, wherever they're formed.
The name you select cannot be in use by any other business in the state. This is why it's so important to perform a Washington Secretary of State corporation search before you begin your incorporation paperwork.
It’s not enough for your corporation name to be unique. It also cannot be comparable 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, Washington Department of Labor, Washington 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 Washington Business Names
In addition to the general rules listed above, you'll need to follow some Washington corporation laws that apply to naming your business.
For example, per the state's Uniform Business Organizations Code Title 23, Chapter 23.95, § 23.95.305:
The name of a corporation or foreign corporation must "contain the word "corporation," "incorporated," "company," or "limited," or the abbreviation "Corp.," "Inc.," "Co.," or "Ltd.," or words or abbreviations of similar import in another language."
Coming Up with the Ideal Business Name
The perfect business name can be elusive. We have a complete guide to choosing the right 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.
Washington Corporation Name Search
Once you have an idea of the name you want, perform a Washington business entity search to make sure another company isn't already using that name.
You can use the state's online portal to perform a name search.
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 Washington 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. You can even register the trademark yourself if it isn't already in use.
Register a DBA in Washington
You may do business under a name different from your corporation's legal name. While many states refer to this as an assumed name, fictitious name or "doing business as" (DBA), it's a trade name in Washington. You may decide to use a trade name for a variety of reasons.
For example, your primary business may be called East Coast Hospitality, Inc., and you have a chain called East Coast Tours. You could register a trade name just for that brand. In most state's you would register a DBA with the Secretary of State, however Washington is different in that you register DBAs with the Department of Revenue. You can register a trade name by filing a Business License Application, or you can have Bizee do it on your behalf with our DBA service.
Important: While your corporation cannot use a name already registered by another business, multiple businesses can use the same trade name. In order to keep your business names unique, you can also use the Washington DOR business lookup. You can perform a Washington DBA name search to find out whether any other companies are already using the trade name you want. We can also help you with this via our DBA name service.
Note: A trade name is not the same as a trademark. Learn more about trademark vs. DBA.
Register Your Business Name with the Washington Secretary of State (SOS)
You’ve performed a Washington Secretary of State corporation search, checked availability, followed the naming rules and determined whether you need a trade name. Now you can register your corporation name in one of two ways.