How to Check for Business Name Availability in Texas

Your business’s name can play a critical role in your success. According to business experts speaking with Inc. reporters, the right business name can achieve the following goals:

  • Provide customers with information about your products and services
  • Ensure potential customers not only know about your business, but remember it
  • Distinguish your company from others in your industry

However, when choosing a business name, you need to confirm no one else in your state has already claimed it.

Are you starting a business in Texas? Keep reading if so. The following guide explains how you may check business name availability in the Lone Star State.

Checking Business Name Availability in Texas: What You Need to Know

There isn’t one single way to confirm business name availability in Texas. The following are a few options to consider:

General Googling

You may take this step first before devoting any time to the methods below. If you have an idea for a business name, perform a Google search to see if there are any other businesses with that name in Texas.

Don’t assume you’re free to claim your chosen name if your search doesn’t turn up any results. You should proceed to one of the next methods on this list if you don’t find any information through basic Googling.

If Google tells you someone else has already taken your business name, save yourself time by coming up with new ideas. Unless, of course, there’s good reason to believe the business you found no longer exists.

Contact the Texas Secretary of State’s Office

You may call 512-463-5555 to reach the Texas Register department of the Texas Secretary of State’s office. Said department can answer various questions you may have about business filings. This includes confirming whether a business name is available.

You may also email the Secretary of State’s office at [email protected]. Be succinct when doing so, making it clear why you’re reaching out.

“Snail mail” is even an option. Consider this option if you want there to be paper documentation of your business name search. To contact the appropriate department, use the following address:

Business & Commercial Section

Secretary of State

P.O. Box 13697

Austin, TX 78711

Visit the Office

The department handling business name search requests in Texas is located at 1019 Brazos Street in Austin. The office is typically open Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. You could stop by and conduct a business name availability search in person if you live in the area.

Search Online

You have a couple of methods from which to choose if you’d prefer to check for business name availability in Texas over the Internet. The Texas Secretary of State’s office offers SOSDirect, a service that allows users to look up registered business names and other such information. You’ll pay a one dollar fee for every search you perform.

The Texas Comptroller’s office also offers a Taxable Entity Search. This is another option to consider when performing an online business name availability search.

Choosing a Business Name in Texas: Laws to Know About

Before checking on business name availability in Texas, you may need to come up with a few business name ideas first. Be aware that Texas law enforces certain rules about the naming of a business in the state.

Specific rules to consider when thinking of business name ideas include the following

  • If you’re starting a corporation, the official business name must include one of the following words, or an abbreviation of one of them: “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or “limited.”
  • Your official business name must include the terms “limited liability company” or “limited company” or an abbreviation of these terms if you’re starting an LLC.
  • The name of your business cannot imply or suggest that your business will engage in illegal activities. Even if some businesses with the right permits and permissions may engage in these activities, if your business cannot legally do so, your business’ name cannot imply otherwise.
  • Your business’ name cannot be the same as that of another business in the state. As such, performing a business name availability search in Texas is an essential step to take when starting a company here.
  • The words “lotto” or “lottery” may not appear in your business’ name.
  • Your business name may not use the following words: “veteran,” “legion,” “foreign,” “Spanish,” “disabled,” “war,” and “world war.” Your business’ name may also not include any abbreviations of those words. The purpose of this law is to ensure no business names in Texas falsely give customers the impression that a business offers benefits to veterans or their loved ones when this isn’t actually the case.
  • None of the words in your business’ name can imply that your business has any sort of connection with an official government agency.

Always keep these laws in mind when coming up with potential business names. You don’t want to strike on a name you love, only to realize that you can’t use it because it violates one or more of the rules here.

Reserving a Business Name in Texas

Officially forming a business entity can take time. Throughout the process, you may face unexpected delays.

Perhaps you’ve come up with a business name you believe reflects your company’s strengths in a way that will resonate with customers. You’ve performed your business name availability in Texas search and found that no one has claimed the name yet.

Maybe you’re not quite ready to form your business yet. Nevertheless, you’d like to be able to reserve your chosen name so one else can use it.

You may submit an application to reserve a business name online in Texas. When doing so, you can merely reserve the generic name if you’re not sure yet whether you wish to file as an LLC or corporation.

Upon approving your request, the Texas Secretary of State’s office will reserve your business name for 120 days. You may also withdraw your application at any point.

When you check for business name availability in Texas, it’s possible you’ll find that someone has already reserved your idea for a business name. That doesn’t mean they will end up using that name.

Although you should come up with new ideas, when you’re finally ready to form your business entity, there’s no harm in checking one more time to see if the name is no longer reserved.

woman using phone and computer

Business Name Availability in Texas Tips: What Not to Do When Someone Claims Your Business Name

Upon conducting a business name availability search, you may find another business in Texas already has the name you were considering. Perhaps you think you can still use a version of this name by making a minor adjustment.

For example, maybe you’re thinking about naming a tea cafe Tea Tonight. You likely can’t get away with changing the name to Tea Tonite if someone else has claimed the name. While this new name changes the spelling of a word, it doesn’t change the meaning.

On the other hand, you could simply switch the order of the words. Tonight Tea may be an acceptable name because it’s distinguishable from the name of another business.

Other minor changes that won’t sufficiently distinguish your business’ name include:

  • Adding an article, such as “The”
  • Adding “LLC” or another such signifier
  • Changing the punctuation or capitalization of the business’ name without changing the meaning of the name itself

You may understandably experience some frustration if you’ve come up with the perfect business name, only to find that it’s not available. Don’t give into the temptation to try keeping your chosen name by only making small changes. Odds are, this will merely delay the process of starting your business.

Work on coming up with a new name instead. Remember, one of the main benefits of a strong business name is differentiating yourself from the competition. If someone else already uses your chosen name, you should want to choose a new one to ensure your business has its own unique identity.

You should also be aware that business names do qualify as distinguishable when they have two words that sound similar but have different meanings. For example, two businesses with similar names may qualify as having unique and distinguishable names under Texas law if one features the word “brake” while another features the word “break.”

Checking Business Name Availability in Texas: A Critical Step

Confirming the name you’ve chosen for your business is available in Texas is a task you must complete before officially forming your company. Luckily, doing so is relatively easy.

Remember to accept the situation and move on if your search tells you a business name is no longer available. The sooner you choose a truly unique business name, the sooner you can begin promoting your business under that name. This is key to growing brand awareness and turning a small company into a thriving enterprise.

Team BusinessNerd

Our team of legal experts and business professionals have years of experience and are dedicated to providing accurate and up-to-date information to our readers.

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