Skip to content

How to Register a Business Name in Iowa

    How to Register a Business Name in Iowa
    (Last Updated On: September 18, 2023)

    Our content is reader-supported. We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links.


    Planning to start a business in Iowa? Registering a business name in Iowa is the first step towards building your brand and ensuring legal compliance in Hawkeye State. Whether you’re forming an LLC or corporation or opting for a DBA, we’re here to guide you through the registration process. Iowa’s business-friendly policies and efficient procedures make it easier for entrepreneurs to establish their ventures. 

    To simplify the registration journey and focus on your business goals, consider teaming up with ZenBusiness. With their expertise, you can confidently navigate the requirements and get your Iowa business up and running. Let’s set the foundation for your success in Iowa today!

    >> Get Started With ZenBusiness >>

    4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Iowa

    Establishing your business presence in Iowa starts with registering your business name. Here are four simple steps to help you accomplish this important task:

    Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Iowa

    In Iowa, you have several business structure options to choose from, each with its unique advantages and legal considerations. Let’s take a closer look at the available options:

    Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common business structure. In this setup, you and your business are considered one legal entity, meaning you’re personally liable for business debts and obligations. Although you don’t need to register a sole proprietorship with the state, you might need to obtain local permits or licenses.

    General Partnership

    If your business involves multiple owners, a general partnership might be a suitable choice. In this structure, all partners share profits, losses, and liabilities. Like sole proprietorships, general partnerships do not require state registration, but you may need to file a “Trade Name Registration” in the county where your business operates.

    Limited Partnership (LP)

    A limited partnership consists of general partners with unlimited personal liability and limited partners who contribute capital with limited liability. To establish an LP in Iowa, you’ll need to file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Iowa Secretary of State.

    Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    An LLC offers the advantage of limited liability protection, similar to a corporation, combined with the tax benefits and ease of operation of a partnership. To form an LLC in Iowa, you must file a “Certificate of Organization” with the Iowa Secretary of State and create an Operating Agreement to outline the company’s management and ownership structure.


    A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners (shareholders) and offers limited liability protection. In Iowa, there are two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations.

    • C-corporations: Suitable for larger companies with numerous shareholders and complex management structures. To create a C-corporation in Iowa, you must file “Articles of Incorporation for a Business Corporation” with the Iowa Secretary of State.
    • S-corporations: A more tax-efficient option for smaller businesses, S-corporations allow profits and losses to pass through to shareholders’ personal tax returns. You’ll need to file “Articles of Incorporation for a Nonprofit Corporation” to establish an S-corporation in Iowa.

    Registering your business name in Iowa is a crucial step in the process of starting a new venture. By carefully considering the various business structures and their corresponding registration requirements, you can ensure that your business is set up for success by selecting appropriate legal frameworks and protections. Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice from legal or business experts to make well-informed decisions for your startup’s future.

    >> Register Your Iowa Business Name with ZenBusiness >>

    Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Iowa

    In Iowa, you have three main methods to name your business, each with its own benefits and considerations. Depending on your entity’s specific needs and goals, you can choose one or combine multiple methods to safeguard your business name effectively.

    Registering a legal entity name is a fundamental requirement for businesses operating in Iowa. This name serves as the official identifier recognized by the state. To ensure exclusivity, Iowa mandates that entity names must be unique, preventing any other business from adopting the same name.

    Moreover, Iowa’s naming regulations specify the use of appropriate company suffixes (e.g., LLC, LP, or Corp) and require the name to accurately represent the nature of the registered business. Before finalizing your business name, it’s crucial to check its availability using the Iowa Secretary of State’s Fast Track Filing database. This step will help you avoid potential conflicts and legal complications down the road.


    Registering a trademark is a powerful way to protect your business name or logo at a national level. While not a mandatory step in Iowa, obtaining a trademark grants exclusive rights to use the registered name or logo for specific goods or services nationwide.

    Conducting a thorough trademark search in the USPTO database is vital to ensure that your chosen name or logo isn’t already registered. Securing a trademark offers significant advantages, such as preventing others from using a similar name or logo for related businesses. However, it’s essential to note that a trademark doesn’t automatically grant unrestricted usage of the name or logo in all circumstances.

    Doing Business As (DBA)

    The Doing Business As (DBA) option provides flexibility in operating your business under a name different from the official legal entity name. To establish a DBA name, you must file a Fictitious Name Resolution with the Iowa Secretary of State. Unlike legal entity names, DBA names are not required to be unique at the state level, although they’re subject to federal trademark laws.

    Deciding on the appropriate naming option(s) for your business requires careful consideration of your long-term goals and branding strategy.

    Selecting and registering your business name in Iowa is a crucial aspect of building your brand identity and maintaining a competitive edge. By exploring the different naming options available, including legal entity names, trademarks, and DBAs, you can ensure the uniqueness and protection of your business name. 

    Conduct thorough research, utilize the resources provided by the Iowa Secretary of State, and seek legal counsel if needed to navigate the naming process successfully.

    >> Try Out ZenBusiness Now >>

    Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Iowa

    Before proceeding with business registration, it’s crucial to confirm whether your desired business name is available for use. To accomplish this, conduct three types of searches as follows:

    To begin, check if your chosen business name is already trademarked. Federal trademarks take precedence over state-level registrations, so it’s essential to ensure your preferred name isn’t already trademarked. If it is, you will need to come up with an alternative business name.

    To conduct a federal trademark search, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and use the TESS Search tool.

    Next, verify the availability of your business name for use specifically in Iowa. Utilize the Iowa Business Entities Search tool to check registered business names within the state.

    During your search, not only confirm the availability of your exact business name but also ensure there are no significantly similar names already in use by other businesses.

    In addition to checking trademark and state-level availability, consider searching for the availability of the .com version of your business name. Although not all businesses may require a website, it’s advisable to secure the .com domain for your business name, if possible. This ensures consistency and protects your brand’s online presence.

    By registering the .com version of your business name with ZenBusiness, you secure exclusive rights to your website name, safeguarding it from potential use by others. 

    By conducting these thorough searches, you can ensure that your chosen business name is unique, not infringing on any existing trademarks, and available for use in the state of Iowa.

    >> File a Trademark with ZenBusiness >>

    Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Iowa

    After finalizing your business structure and choosing a name, the next step is to officially register your business with the state of Iowa.

    For an Iowa LLC, you must file the Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Secretary of State. This can be done online or through the mail. If you’re setting up an Iowa corporation, you’ll need to submit the Articles of Incorporation to the Iowa Secretary of State.

    >> Try Out ZenBusiness Today >>

    You May Also Want to Know

    Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark

    Once you’ve verified the availability of your business name and secured it, you have the option to apply for a trademark. The cost typically ranges from $225 to $400, and there might be additional attorney fees. The trademark is valid for 10 years, after which it can be renewed.

    While trademark protection offers nationwide recognition and legal support, it might not be essential for small businesses unless they plan to expand nationally.

    How to File an Iowa Fictitious Name – DBA?

    To file an Iowa Fictitious Name (DBA), follow these simple steps:

    1. Choose a Name: Select the fictitious name you want to use for your business. Make sure it complies with Iowa’s naming requirements and isn’t already in use by another business
    1. Search Availability: Verify if the chosen name is available by conducting a name search on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website or contacting their office
    1. File a Fictitious Name Registration: Complete the Fictitious Name Registration form. You can find the form on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website or request it by mail
    1. Submit the Form: File the completed Fictitious Name Registration form with the appropriate filing fee to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. You can submit it online or by mail
    1. Publication (if required): Some Iowa counties may require you to publish a notice of your fictitious name in a local newspaper. Check with the county where your business is located to see if this step applies to you
    1. Renewal: Fictitious Name Registrations in Iowa are valid for five years. Remember to renew your registration before it expires to keep your fictitious name active

    By following these steps, you can successfully file a Fictitious Name (DBA) for your business in Iowa.

    How to Change the Name of an Iowa Business?

    Changing the name of your business in Iowa can be achieved through two methods: filing for a trade/fictitious name or submitting an amendment to the legal name.

    1. Trade/Fictitious Name (DBA Name)

    The easiest way to operate your business under a different name without altering its legal name is by filing for a trade/fictitious name, also known as a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name. This method is suitable for sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations. It allows you to use brand names without including the required suffixes like “LLC” or “Inc.” in your legal name.

    1. Amendment to Legal Name

    If you wish to officially change the legal name of your LLC or corporation, you’ll need to submit an amendment. Iowa doesn’t provide a fillable form for amendments, but you can find the guidelines in the “Rules of Amendment for LLCs” and “Rules of Amendment for Corporations” documents.

    To complete the process, submit the amendment along with the $50 filing fee to the Iowa Secretary of State either online or by mail.

    By following these steps, you’ll successfully form your business in Iowa, ensuring that it operates under the appropriate structure and name, with trademark protection for added security and brand recognition.

    >> Start Using ZenBusiness Today >>

    Business Name Registration Laws in Iowa

    In Iowa, business name registration is typically done through the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Here are the key points to consider when registering a business name in Iowa:

    • Business Entity Type: The business name registration process will depend on the type of business entity you’re forming, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company (LLC), etc.
    • Uniqueness: Your business name must be unique and distinguishable from other registered business names in Iowa. You can conduct a name search on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website to check the availability of your desired business name.
    • Trade Name Registration (DBA): If you’re operating your business under a name different from your legal business name (Doing Business As or DBA), you may need to file a Trade Name Registration with the county where your business is located. This is required for sole proprietorships and partnerships.
    • Entity Name Reservation: If you plan to start a business but are not yet ready to formally register it, Iowa allows you to reserve a business name for a specific period. This reservation provides you with exclusive rights to the name for that time.
    • Registration Process: The registration process can be done online through the Iowa Secretary of State’s website or by submitting the necessary forms by mail. The registration fee will vary depending on the type of business entity and the registration method.
    • Professional Licensing: Certain professions in Iowa may require additional licensing or permits. Make sure to check if your business falls under any such requirements.
    • Renewal: Business name registrations in Iowa typically need to be renewed periodically. The renewal process and schedule will vary based on the type of business entity.

    For the most current and accurate information, please visit the official website of the Iowa Secretary of State or consult with a legal professional familiar with Iowa business laws.

    >> Check Out ZenBusiness Today >>

    Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Iowa

    Registering a business name in Iowa is a fundamental requirement for entrepreneurs aiming to create a legitimate and recognizable business presence. Performing a comprehensive name search, fulfilling all necessary paperwork, choosing an appropriate business structure, and maintaining meticulous records are vital for adherence to regulations and safeguarding the business. 

    Entrepreneurs can rely on ZenBusiness for expert support and a wealth of resources to facilitate a seamless business formation process in Iowa.

    >> Use ZenBusiness To Register a Business Name in Iowa >>

    How to register a business name in every US state: