The name you choose for your business is significant. It defines your brand and differentiates your company from the competition. But if it isn’t helping you achieve these goals, or you’ve decided to chart a different course for your company, it may be time to find a new name for your business.
But how do you change your business name? And, if you operate an LLC or a corporation, can you change the name of your business?
Let’s explore these and other business name change FAQs.
When would I want to change my company’s name?
There are several reasons why you may wish to change your company’s name. You may want to appeal to a new audience, reflect an expansion of your offerings or location, or perhaps you acquired a new business. Another common reason for a name change is a brand refresh or a desire to attract a new generation of customers. Negative publicity is also a prompt for a name change. Or maybe you just chose the wrong name when you formed your business and it’s time for something new.
Can I change the name of my LLC or corporation?
Yes. To change the name of your LLC or corporation, you will need to file “Articles of Amendment” with your state. Once approved, you can start operating under the new name.
However, there are a few steps you should take first which we cover next.
How do I change my LLC or corporation’s business name?
Name amendment requires proper research. Follow these four steps to properly amend the name of your LLC or corporation.
1. Approve a “Resolution to Change Business Name”
The name change must first be approved by the owner or members of the LLC, or in the case of a corporation, the shareholders. Refer to your LLC operating agreement or corporation bylaws to check how these matters are to be handled.
2. Check that the name is available in each state where you operate
Conduct an official inquiry to see that your new name is available in the state(s) where you do business. In addition to state business entity law naming rules, you will need to verify that your new business name does not infringe on another business’ trademark rights. If your LLC or corporation name will be used as a trademark you may want to protect its rights too. A trusted advisor who is familiar with trademark law can help you with that.
3. Research each state’s naming provisions
Naming requirements vary by state so you will need to ensure your new business name is compliant. For instance, all states prohibit the use of certain words (which vary from state to state). They also limit the use of names that are “deceptively similar” to an existing name. Most states also require the business to identify its business type, such as “LLC” or “Inc.”
4. Prepare your Articles of Amendment
With all these boxes checked you can now prepare your Articles of Amendment, pay applicable fees, and file them with the state.
Why are Articles of Amendment important?
Filing Articles of Amendment is the only way to notify the state of your desire to change the legal name of your business. They also demonstrate consent from essential members of your company, if director, shareholder, or officer ratification is required. The name change is only official once the Article of Amendment is approved.
How do I change my trade name or DBA name?
Your legal business name is the official name of your business for tax and other legal purposes. If you use a trade name, “doing business as” (DBA) name, or “fictitious” name to do business, that name is registered with your locality – not a state or federal agency. To change that name, you will need to file a DBA name change request with your county clerk’s office.
Where else do I need to update my business name?
Depending on your situation, you may also need to follow through on one or more of the following steps:
- Amend your internal LLC operating agreement or corporation bylaws to reflect your new name.
- Contact your bank to determine if you need a new business bank account.
- Check your business licenses and permits. Contact your county, city, or town as you may need to update your business licenses and permits or cancel existing licenses and apply for new ones under your new business name.
- Find out if you need to apply for an EIN name change. Refer to IRS Publication 1635 to check whether you need to reapply.
- Notify the IRS of the new name. If you operate a single-member LLC, the process is the same as a sole proprietorship. Multi-member LLC will handle it the same way as a general partnership. You can submit a copy of the Certificate of Amendment along with a name-change letter to the IRS to update your new name in the IRS records. If your business is a corporation and you are filing a current year return, you must mark the name change box on Form 1120. If you have already filed your return, contact the IRS at the address where you filed the return notifying them of the name change. The letter must be signed by a corporate officer.
- Change the name on everything else. Once your name change is approved by the state, you can now begin updating your business signage, marketing materials, website, and so on. Consider planning a marketing campaign to let customers, prospects, and the media know about the change.
Let CT help you every step of the way
Ready to change your business name? CT can help you do it properly and in compliance with all state and local laws. We’ll find out if you can legally change your name in every applicable state, comb through the name change requirements, prepare your Articles of Amendment, and ensure the whole name amendment process goes smoothly and expeditiously. Learn more about the name amendment process.