When you meet someone new, what’s the first thing you want to know about them? Their name. Your name is unique—it’s how people remember you.
The same goes for your Arizona business: choosing your name is the most important step of forming your company. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just picking the name you like best from a list. That works for babies, but not businesses. Arizona has several requirements that you’ll need to follow as you pick a name.
Fortunately, this five-step guide will help you pick a name that is both perfect for your business and compliant with state laws. We’ll also cover how to reserve your name once you’ve picked it. Let’s get started.
NOTE: If you have found the perfect business name and would like to begin the process of registering your business with the state, there are a lot of top rated LLC services — like LegalZoom and Zen Business — that can do it for you.
1) Review Arizona Name Requirements
Arizona has two primary requirements for naming your business. First, your name must include a designation of the type of company you’re forming. For example, if you’re forming a Limited Liability Company, you’ll need to include “LLC,” “Limited Liability Company,” or an abbreviation of those terms. Corporations must include “Inc.,” “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” etc. Regardless of what kind of entity you make, your name should reflect your business type.
Second, your name must be distinguishable from other business entities in Arizona. If it’s too similar to another name, your customers could get confused. Arizona is very particular about what makes a name distinguishable, too. For example, a simple change in letters, spacing, or numbers is not enough to make your name distinct. An entity identifier such as “Co.” or “LLC” does not count as a distinction, either. Usually you’ll need a whole word of difference between your name for it to be considered distinct. You can find a detailed guide on Arizona’s naming policies here.
Arizona also recommends that you conduct a search on the federal level to make sure your name doesn’t infringe on any federal trademarks or trade names.
Finally, if you want to use a term related to a financial institution, then you’ll need to obtain permission with the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions.
2) Create the Perfect Name for Your Arizona Business
Now that we’ve covered all the things you can’t do with your business name, let’s focus on what you can do. Here’s where you can let your creativity shine. As long as you meet Arizona’s requirements, you can pick just about anything you like.
However, to make your business name perfect, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Pick a name that represents your business: Your business name is the first impression you’ll send to potential customers; you want to make sure it’s the right impression. So, be sure to include important aspects of your business in your name. For example, if you’re starting a restaurant that specializes in vegan fare, you’ll want that to be clear by your business name.
- Write it down and say it aloud: Your business name appears everywhere—business cards, your website, company signage, and more. A good name will look good on paper. But you’ll also say your name a lot, too, so make sure it sounds as good as it looks.
- Choose a name that you’re proud of: Do you like the name you’ve come up with? You love your business, and you should love the name that goes with it. If you love the name, then you’re good to move on to step three.
3) Search Your Chosen Name with the Arizona Secretary of State
Now it’s time to check that your business name is available in the state of Arizona. To do so, you’ll want to run an Entity Search.
Here’s how it works: input the business name you developed in Step 2. If the state’s search tool doesn’t find any results, then good news! Your name is available for you to use in Arizona. However, if it does find a match, you’ll want to start over or tweak your name a little to make sure it’s different from what’s currently in use in the state.
Arizona’s Entity Search tool is fairly easy to use; simply click on the “Name” section and type in your proposed name. The tool will pull up any existing businesses with names that are the same as or indistinguishable from the name you’ve developed. If no results pop up, then your name is free to use.
While this step may seem like a hassle, it can save you time in the long run. You’ll need to put your business name on your formation documents; if you put down a name that’s already in use, the state will send it back to you, request a change, and you’ll need to file all over again. This could potentially slow down your start-up process by several days or even weeks. Searching your name ahead of time prevents that slow-down.
4) Reserve Your Business Name with Arizona
You’ve done the legwork to make sure your business name is free to use in Arizona. Now, let’s ensure that none of that work goes to waste by reserving your business name with the state.
In Arizona, you can reserve a business name by filing an Application to Reserve Corporate Name. You can also find other versions of the form here. You can file this form by mail, in person, or online with the Arizona Corporation Commission. For unincorporated entities, the process is a little different: you’ll need to register a trade name with the Secretary of State. The trade name registration lasts for five years.
Arizona requires a fee of $10 for corporate name reservations if filing by mail, or $45 if filing online (online is considered expediting your filings, so there’s an additional fee). You can pay by check or credit card.
Reserving your corporate name will protect your business name for an additional 120 days. While it’s unlikely that another person will come up with the exact name you’ve chosen, this process prevents anyone else from using your name. The 120-day-long reservation gives you plenty of time to get all your affairs in order and file your formation documents.
5) File Your Arizona Formation Documents (for Incorporated Entities)
Even though filing a reservation gives you 120 days of exclusive rights to the name you’ve created, you’ll need to file your formation documents to make everything official. The document you need to use varies depending on the type of business you’re forming, but it’s often called the Articles of Incorporation or the Articles of Organization.
The Arizona Corporation Commission serves as a helpful starting point for forming your business. Here you’ll find the forms you need to start your business, including the Arizona Articles of Incorporation. You’ll also find easy access to forms such as name reservations, amendments, registered agent changes, and more.
Conducting a business name search is an important part of forming your business in Arizona. The search saves you time and helps you set up a name that makes your business stand out. We hope this guide made it simple to name your business.