Business Name Restrictions: What to Know Before Registering Your Business

One of the most exciting initial tasks to tackle when starting a business is brainstorming names for your company. It’s also one of the most critical to-dos; your company’s name will be the foundation of your brand, so you need to consider it carefully.

As you embark upon the process of deciding what you will call your company, there are some business name restrictions you should be aware of. Every state has its own set of rules regarding what is and is not allowed in business names.

Most states will not allow a business to:

  • Include business entity identifiers such as “Incorporated,” “Corporation,” “Inc.,” “Limited Liability Company,” or “LLC” as part of the name if the business is not incorporated or an LLC. Similarly, a business that is incorporated or an LLC must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation (e.g., Inc., LLC) as part of its name.
  • Use a name that implies it is a governmental unit (such as a village, city, or borough) when it is not.
  • Use a word that implies a company is a government entity (e.g., Federal, United States, etc.).
  • Use a business name that misleads the public to believe the company provides something it does not.
  • Include a word that implies professional licensing (such as “Engineer,” “Attorney,” or “CPA”) if the business does not have the appropriate license.
  • Use words like “bank,” “trust,” or “insurance,” unless legally authorized to operate as such by the appropriate government agency.
  • Use a name that is deceptively similar to another business name on record.
  • Use derivatives or other forms of prohibited words (for example, adding “ing” to the end of a prohibited word or using its plural form, etc.)

The table below shares some information about each state’s business name restrictions. Although this list is not all-inclusive, I hope that it will give business owners a better idea of what words to be wary of when considering using them as part of a company name.

State-By-State Business Name Restrictions

*Some words and phrases may be allowed upon review and approval by the appropriate state government department.
StateWords Prohibited or Restricted in Business Names*
Alabama Bank, Banking, Banc, Engineer, Engineering, Olympic
AlaskaWords that: imply a governmental unit (for example, city, village or borough); mislead the public about the business's purpose; are vulgar
ArizonaBank, Banker, Banking, Banc, Banco, Deposit, Trust, Trust Company
Arkansas Bank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union, Olympic
CaliforniaBank, Trust, Trustee, Olympic
ColoradoBank, Trust, Trustee, Olympic
ConnecticutBank, Insurance Company, Trust Company
District of ColumbiaBank, Banking, Banc, Insurance 
DelawareBank, Banking, Banc, words deemed objectionable by the Secretary of State
FloridaBank, Banking, Banc, Insurance, Savings and Loan Association, Credit Union
Georgia


Insurance, Assurance, Surety, College, University; Bank, Credit Union, Trust
Hawai’iFinancial 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
IdahoBank, Banc, Banking, Engineering, Engineer
IllinoisBank, Banking, Insurance
IndianaBank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union
IowaBank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance and Credit Union
KansasBank, Banks, Banking, Banc
KentuckyCooperative
LouisianaBank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Building, Loan, Homestead, Insurance, Casualty, Redevelopment Corporation, Electric Cooperative, Credit Union
Maine
Savings, Savings Bank, Bank, Banker, Banking, Trust, Trust Company, Trust and Banking Company, Credit Union, the plural of any of these words or any derivatives of these terms.
MarylandBank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union
MassachusettsArmy, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Government, PX, GI, Fire, Police, State, Federal
MichiganBank, Banking, Banc, Insurance. Co-Op, Credit Union
MinnesotaBank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union
MississippiBank, Banker, Banking, Savings, Safe Deposit, Trust, Trustee, Insurance, Credit Union
MissouriCooperative, Bank, Insurance Company, Redevelopment
MontanaBank, Banker, Banking
NebraskaBank, Banker, Banking
NevadaInsurance, Bank, Trust, Engineer, Engineered, Engineering, Professional Engineer, Registered Engineer, Licensed Engineer
New HampshireFarmers’ Market
New JerseyBank, Banker, Banking, Olympic, Handicapped, Cemetery
New MexicoBank, Banker, Banking
New YorkBank, Banker, Banking, Surety, Historical, Museum, Underwriter, School, Handicapped
North CarolinaBank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Farmering, Farm, Farmer, Insurance
North DakotaBank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Farmering, Farm, Farmer, Insurance
OhioBank, Trust, words and phrases that are profane or generally considered a slur against an ethnic group, religion, gender, or heredity
OklahomaBank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Farmering, Farm, Farmer, Insurance
OregonBank, Trust
PennsylvaniaBank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Engineering, School, Insurance
Rhode IslandBank, Trust
South CarolinaBank
South DakotaBank, Banking, Banker
TennesseeMortgage, Bank, Banks, Credit Union, Trust
TexasBank, Insurance, Olympic, Trust, Cooperative
UtahBank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Trustee, Credit Union, Savings, Loan, Education, Institution, Institute, University, College, Building
VermontBank, Insurance; Must register with the appropriate department
VirginiaBank, Trust, Insurance
WashingtonBank, Banking, Banker, Trust, Cooperative, or any combination of the words Industrial and Loan, or any combination of any two or more of the words: Building, Savings, Loan, Home, Associatio, Society
West VirginiaEngineering, Doctor
WisconsinInsurance, Trust, Bank
WyomingEducation, School, College, University, Bank, Banking

Tips To Help Ensure You Don’t Break the Rules

  • Check with the Secretary of State’s office about the rules and restrictions for business names – What I’ve provided above is just a sampling of the restrictions in each state. Entrepreneurs can confirm that the business names they would like to use won’t break the rules by visiting the state government’s website and contacting the appropriate state department for more information.
  • Conduct a corporate name search – Even if the desired name is free of any prohibited words and otherwise meets all the requirements, a business will likely not be able to use it if another company selling similar products or services is already using the name. Doing a name search using CorpNet’s free Corporate Name Search tool can help identify if the name is available in the state.
  • Conduct a trademark search – Companies that intend to do business in more than one state should consider doing a trademark search. If a business name has been trademarked, it is protected in all 50 United States, which prevents other businesses with similar purposes from using the name in any state.
  • Enlist the expertise of an attorney to ensure you’ve covered all the bases – Everything I have shared here is for general informational purposes. For legal guidance about naming a business, entrepreneurs should seek the expertise of an attorney or another qualified professional.

Next Steps

After you’ve done your research and have landed on a distinguishable business name that meets your state’s requirements, remember that my team at CorpNet is here to help you with your name reservation and business registration paperwork. Contact us today—no matter where you plan to operate your company in the U.S.—to assist you with preparing your forms and filing them quickly and accurately.

2018-04-11T07:08:28+00:00 April 12th, 2018|Categories: Startup and Launch|

About the Author:

Nellie Akalp
Nellie Akalp is an entrepreneur, small business expert, speaker, and mother of four amazing kids. As CEO of CorpNet.com, she has helped more than half a million entrepreneurs launch their businesses. Akalp is nationally recognized as one of the most prominent experts on small business legal matters, contributing frequently to outlets like Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable, and Fox Small Business. A passionate entrepreneur herself, Akalp is committed to helping others take the reigns and dive into small business ownership. Through her public speaking, media appearances, and frequent blogging, she has developed a strong following within the small business community and has been honored as a Small Business Influencer Champion three years in a row.

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