Corporation, limited liability company and limited partnership names may be adopted as follows:
When determining name availability, names are checked only against names of like entities registered with the California Secretary of State (e.g., a proposed corporation name is checked for availability only against other corporation names).
Names are not checked against trademark or service mark registrations or against fictitious business names. Laws relating to trademarks and service marks can be found in the California Business and Professions Code section 14200, et seq. and United States Code, Title 15, section 1051, et seq. Laws relating to fictitious business names (which are filed with the county in which the principal place of business is located) can be found in the California Business and Professions Code section 17900, et seq.
Stationery, signs, etc., should not be ordered and no financial commitments should be made until the appropriate formation, registration or change documents are submitted to and filed by the California Secretary of State.
A free preliminary check of the availability of a name can be requested by mailing a completed Name Availability Inquiry Letter (PDF) to the California Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento. Email or online inquiries cannot be accepted at this time.
If you frequently check for name availability, see Prepay Priority Telephone Service below for information about the option to establish a prepay account to check for name availability by phone.
Checking the availability of a name does not reserve the name, has no binding effect on the California Secretary of State and does not confer any rights to a name.
A name can be reserved for a period of 60 days. Fees and instructions for reserving a name are included on the Name Reservation Request Form (PDF). Email or online requests for name reservations cannot be accepted at this time.
The reservation can be renewed to the same applicant or for the benefit of the same party, but not for consecutive periods. (California Corporations Code section 201(c), 2601(c), 5122(c), 7122(d), 9122(c), 12302(d), 15901.09 or 17701.09.)
If you frequently reserve corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership names, see Prepay Priority Telephone Service below for information about the option to establish a prepay account to reserve names by phone.
The reservation of a name does not guarantee the name meets all federal and state requirements related to a specific entity type. Names are reviewed for compliance at the time documents are submitted to the California Secretary of State’s office for filing.
If the name is available for use in California, to protect the name for future use, a foreign (not California) corporation that is (1) not registered with the California Secretary of State and (2) not transacting intrastate business in California, can register the corporate name with the Secretary of State by filing a Registration of Corporate Name by Foreign Corporation (PDF).
To cancel a foreign name registration before the close of the calendar year, a Certificate of Cancellation of Foreign Name Registration (PDF) can be filed with the California Secretary of State.
If you frequently check for name availability or reserve corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership names, you may want to establish a prepay account with the California Secretary of State for Priority Telephone Service.
Priority Telephone Service requires a minimum deposit of $100.00, although a calculation of your expected usage may require a larger amount of deposit. After establishing the account, you will be able to check for name availability or reserve a name by phone. A $4.00 fee will be charged to your account for each name availability search, and a $10.00 reservation fee will be charged to your account for each name reservation.
For information about establishing a prepay account for Priority Telephone Service, please email your request to the California Secretary of State's Fiscal office or call (916) 653–1233.