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How to Do a California Business Entity Search

California Business Entity Search

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The economy of California has always been strong, and in fact, it’s been the world’s 5th largest economy since 2017. Those who want to start a business will find strong footing in this state, as there’s a healthy economy that’s projected to remain for the foreseeable future.

To get started, you’ll have to pick a memorable company name. Not only that, but it must be untaken by other businesses too.

The best way to do your due diligence is to perform a thorough California business entity search. Keep reading to see how you can do this and ensure your company name is truly unique.

Check With the Secretary of State

The California Secretary of State has a business search function on their website.

It’s easy to use their general California business license search. Simply type in the name you’re interested in, and it’ll come up with 500 results that closely match. What’s great about this function is you don’t have to enter a complete business name; just part of one will suffice.

If you don’t get any results, then that’s good news! This means that your desired name is free for the taking.

In that case, you can jump straight to using our business registration service. We can help you set up an LLC or corporation, and you can even use our name searcher to double-check that the business name you want is free.

Advanced Search Function

The general California Secretary of State business entity search will give you results for every business possible that may have similar names. 

But if you want to narrow things down further by business structure, you can do so with the advanced search function. Do note that if you want to look for limited liability partnership (LLP) or general partnership (GP) business names, this isn’t possible on the site. However, you can always write in and request hard copies.

While using the advanced search function, you can use criteria such as:

  • Contains (keywords)
  • (Name) starts with
  • Entity information search
  • Publicly traded disclosure search
  • Entiity type
  • Status
  • Initial filing date (start and end)

To get optimal results, don’t use “LLC” or any form of it if you’re doing an LLC lookup in California. You won’t need to use any punctuation either.

Once you’ve put in the details you want to search, the results page will list the found information in the following columns:

  • Entity information
  • Initial filing date
  • Status
  • Entity type
  • Formed in
  • Agent

All businesses registered in this state get a file number. Do you have one and want to see all the details associated with it? Then you can input it on the Secretary of State’s website.

You’ll find a field for file number on the search widget. Put this in instead of a company name.

Use the California Trademark Search Tool

The Secretary of State also has a California trademark search tool. You can use this to be extra sure that the name you’re selecting hasn’t been used.

On the page, the dropdown options for “Search type” are:

  • Registration ID
  • Description of mark
  • Registration date
  • Class code
  • Design code
  • Name of owner

The results on this site may not be 100% accurate, even though the database is update daily. This is because there may be filings that haven’t been processed.

Before you dive into business in California, you need to first choose a name that your target audience will remember. Having a brainstorming session is a must, as you’ll come up with several options.

After you’ve narrowed it down to your favorites, then you should perform a California business entity search. This is easily done on the Secretary of State’s website, although you won’t be able to pinpoint LLP and GP names unless you request hard copies.
Sign up with Business Anywhere if you’re ready to start your own company. We can also provide registered agent services and a virtual mailbox for your business too.

About Author

Picture of Rick Mak

Rick Mak

Rick Mak is a 30-year veteran businessman, having started, bought, and/or sold more than a dozen companies. He has bachelor's degrees in International Business, Finance, and Economics, with masters in both Entrepreneurship and International Law. He has spoken at hundreds of conferences around the world during his career on entrepreneurship, international tax law, asset protection, and company structure. Business Anywhere Editorial Guidelines

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