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Welcome to our in-depth guide on how to register a business name in Louisiana! Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or an established business looking to expand into the Pelican State, getting your business name registered is a crucial step toward legal compliance and brand recognition. Louisiana offers a user-friendly registration process for various business structures, including LLCs, corporations, and DBAs.
We’ll take you through each step of the registration process, making it a smooth and seamless experience. For expert guidance and a hassle-free journey, consider partnering with ZenBusiness. Let’s navigate the intricacies of registering a business name in Louisiana together and set the stage for your success in the vibrant and diverse Louisiana market!
4 Steps to Register Your Business Name in Louisiana
Registering your business name in Louisiana is an essential milestone in launching your entrepreneurial venture in the Pelican State. To ensure a seamless registration process, we have outlined four straightforward steps that will help you officially establish your business name in Louisiana:
Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure in Louisiana
When starting a business in Louisiana, one of the first crucial steps is to select the appropriate business structure that aligns with your venture’s nature and expansion plans. Depending on your choice, you might need to register your business name with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Let’s explore the various business structures available and their associated requirements:
A sole proprietorship is the most straightforward business structure in Louisiana, where the business owner and the business itself are considered one legal entity. The owner is personally responsible for all debts and liabilities of the business. Registering a sole proprietorship with the state isn’t mandatory, but you may still need to acquire local permits or licenses.
A general partnership involves two or more individuals who share profits and losses, and each partner is personally liable for the business’s debts and legal obligations. Registering a general partnership with the state isn’t required, but you may need to file a “Louisiana Trade Name Certificate” (Doing Business As – DBA) in the parish where your business operates.
Limited Partnership (LP)
A limited partnership in Louisiana consists of one or more general partners, who manage the business and bear unlimited personal liability, and one or more limited partners, who contribute capital but have limited liability. To establish an LP, you must file a “Certificate of Limited Partnership” with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
An LLC is a versatile business structure that offers limited liability protection similar to a corporation while maintaining the tax benefits and simplicity of a partnership. To form an LLC in Louisiana, you need to file “Articles of Organization” with the Louisiana 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 provides limited liability protection. Louisiana has two types of corporations: C-corporations and S-corporations. Establishing a corporation involves filing “Articles of Incorporation” with the Louisiana Secretary of State. Corporations usually entail more formalities, such as creating bylaws, issuing stock, and holding regular board and shareholder meetings.
Select the business structure in Louisiana that best suits your needs based on factors like liability protection, taxation, and management requirements. If you need assistance in making this decision, it’s wise to consult with a legal or business professional who can guide you through the process.
Remember that while some business structures require formal registration, others may involve fulfilling local requirements or obtaining permits and licenses.
Step 2: Select a Unique Business Name in Louisiana
In Louisiana, selecting a business name involves several options, and it’s essential to understand the different avenues available to ensure your business name remains exclusive and protected. Depending on your preferences and needs, you can register a legal entity name, secure a trademark, or operate under a different name while still having a registered legal name.
However, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with Louisiana’s specific rules and regulations concerning business naming.
To guarantee the uniqueness of your business name, you can explore all three naming options or focus on a single approach. While it’s not mandatory, using the same name for each registration method is recommended for consistency and brand recognition.
Now, let’s explore the details of each naming option in Louisiana:
Legal Entity Name
In Louisiana, it’s a requirement for businesses to register a legal entity name, which serves as the official identification of the company recognized by the state. To prevent any potential conflicts with other entities, the name must be distinct and not already in use.
Louisiana’s naming regulations include specific guidelines regarding the use of company suffixes (e.g., LLC, LP, or Corp), and the name should accurately reflect the type of business being registered. To check name availability, you can use the Louisiana Secretary of State’s database.
A trademark provides intellectual property protection for a business name or logo on a national level. To safeguard your business name or logo, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough search in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to ensure it’s not already registered by someone else.
Registering a trademark grants exclusivity, allowing you to prevent others from using an identical or similar name or logo for similar goods or services, providing nationwide protection. However, obtaining a trademark does not automatically grant the right to use the name or logo in all circumstances.
Doing Business As (DBA) Name
In Louisiana, businesses have the option to operate under an official name while using a different name, known as a Doing Business As (DBA) name. To establish a DBA, you must file an Assumed Name Certificate (DBA) with the appropriate county clerk’s office where your business is located. Unlike the legal entity name and trademark, a DBA isn’t required to be unique at the state level but is subject to federal trademark laws.
By understanding and considering these naming options, you can effectively register your business name in Louisiana and safeguard your brand identity throughout the state and beyond.
Step 3: Check Business Name Availability in Louisiana
Before proceeding with the registration of your business in Louisiana, it’s crucial to ensure that the name you wish to use is available and not already in use by another entity. To conduct a thorough business name availability search, follow these three essential steps:
Begin by conducting a federal trademark search to check if your preferred business name is already trademarked. Federal trademarks take precedence over state-level registrations, so it’s essential to confirm that your chosen name isn’t already protected by a trademark. If the name is already trademarked, you will need to come up with an alternative business name.
To perform a federal trademark search, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website and use the TESS Search tool.
Louisiana Business Name Search
After confirming that your business name isn’t trademarked, proceed to verify its availability for use in Louisiana. To do this, utilize the Louisiana Business Filings Search tool to check for any existing registered business names in the state.
During your search, make sure not only to verify the availability of your exact business name but also to ensure that there are no other businesses using significantly similar names.
Website Domain Search
Once you have ensured that your business name isn’t trademarked and is available for use in Louisiana, it’s also advisable to perform a website domain search. Check if the .com version of your business name is available, even if you may not immediately plan to build a website. Securing the .com domain early on can prevent potential conflicts and ensure consistency in your brand’s online presence.
Registering the .com version of your business name with ZenBusiness ensures exclusive ownership, preventing others from using the same website name. With affordable domain registration options, it’s a cost-effective way to protect your business identity.
By following these three steps to verify the availability of your business name, you can confidently proceed with the registration process in Louisiana while safeguarding your brand’s identity and avoiding any legal issues related to name conflicts.
Step 4: Form Your Business With the State of Louisiana
After selecting your business structure and name, the next step is to formally register your business with the state of Louisiana. For an LLC, you’ll need to file the Articles of Organization with the Louisiana Secretary of State, either online or by mail. For a corporation, you must submit the Articles of Incorporation.
You May Also Want to Know
Protect Your Business Name With a Trademark
Consider applying for a trademark to secure nationwide protection for your business name. While it may entail some costs, having a trademark can provide legal precedence in case of name conflicts. This step is particularly relevant for businesses with national expansion plans.
How to File a Louisiana Fictitious Name – DBA?
To file a Louisiana Fictitious Name (Doing Business As – DBA), follow these steps:
- Choose a Fictitious Name: Select the desired name you want to use for your business that’s different from your legal entity name.
- Verify Name Availability: Ensure that the chosen name is available and not already in use by another business in Louisiana.
- File Assumed Name Certificate: Complete and submit the Assumed Name Certificate (DBA) to the appropriate parish clerk’s office where your business operates. Provide your business information, the chosen fictitious name, and pay the required filing fee.
- Obtain Approval: Once your Assumed Name Certificate is approved, you can legally operate your business under the DBA name in Louisiana. Remember to renew the certificate as required by state regulations.
How to Change the Name of a Louisiana Business?
To change your business name in Louisiana, you have two options: filing for a trade name (DBA name) or submitting an amendment for the legal name. For a different operating name without altering the legal name, a DBA name is suitable. If you need to change the legal name for your LLC or corporation, filing an amendment through the geauxBIZ website is recommended.
Business Name Registration Laws in Louisiana
The business name registration laws in Louisiana are as follows:
- Business Name Search: Before registering a business name in Louisiana, it’s essential to conduct a thorough search to ensure that the desired name is available and not already in use by another business entity. You can check the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website or contact their office for assistance with the search.
- Choosing a Unique Name: The business name you choose must be unique and distinguishable from other registered business names in the state. It should not infringe upon any existing trademarks or cause confusion with established businesses.
- Registration Process: To register your business name, you must file the necessary documents with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office. This office handles business registrations in the state. The registration process may vary depending on the type of business entity you’re forming (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.).
- Trade Name (DBA): If you intend to operate your business under a name that’s different from your legal business name (often referred to as a “Doing Business As” or DBA name), you will need to file a Trade Name Registration with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
- Protecting Your Name: Registering your business name in Louisiana does not provide trademark protection. If you want exclusive rights to your business name, you may need to pursue federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
- Business Structure Considerations: The type of business structure you choose (e.g., LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship) will affect how you register your business name and your legal obligations.
Keep in mind that laws and regulations are subject to change over time, so it’s essential to verify this information with the latest resources and consult a legal professional or the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office for the most up-to-date information and guidance regarding business name registration in the state.
Bottom Line on How to Register a Business Name in Louisiana
Registering a business name in Louisiana is a crucial initial step in your entrepreneurial journey. Begin by conducting a comprehensive search to ensure the name’s availability, and choose a unique and distinguishable name that complies with trademark laws. Depending on your business structure, file the necessary documents with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, and if operating under a different name, register a Trade Name (DBA).
While registration in Louisiana does not provide trademark protection, consider seeking federal trademark registration for exclusive rights. For a smoother process, consider using services like ZenBusiness. With determination and the right business name, you’re poised for success in Louisiana’s thriving business landscape.
How to register a business name in every US state: