Information on existing businesses in the state can be obtained by using the North Carolina Business Entity Search. This search taps into a database maintained by the NC Secretary of State and provides up-to-date information on existing entities.
It is a useful tool for getting information on businesses, like LLCs and corporations. It’s also excellent as a preliminary research tool to find a name for your North Carolina LLC.
The state requires a new entity’s name to be unique and distinguishable upon record. By going through the database with the name you have in mind, you can ensure its availability. When searching for a name, it’s usually good practice to have a few names in mind. That way, you can quickly go through the list and check availability.
Accessing And Using NC Business Entity Search
A simple and straightforward website is available for NC business entity search. While the website is easily accessible and simple to maneuver, there are a few options to know. Understanding these should make it easier for you to use the search function on the website.
The NC SOS business search has three sections, and included subsections. These are:
- Select what you want to search
- Company – Search by business entity. This includes corporations, North Carolina LLC lookup, and more entities.
- North Carolina Registered Agents – Search by using the name of a registered agent. The results will show the entities represented by the agent.
- Company Officials – Search by using the name of a company/entity official.
- Assumed Business Names – Search using the assumed business name of an entity.
- Select how you want to search (explained further in the next section)
- Starting with
- Any words
- All words
- SOS ID
- Searching for – This is where you enter the search query/term you want. You should have made the appropriate choice in the previous two options before entering anything in this section.
Once you’ve filled the “searching for” section, you can hit the “enter” key on the keyboard or click on the “Search” button to see relevant results.
A Better Understanding Of The NC SOS Search Options
As we see, there are several search options available on the business entity search page. These are powerful options that can help refine the search and make it easier to look for entities. Here are the options and their explanation.
- Starting With: The search term can be the starting of an entity name. It is the partial name of the entity and the search term must match the starting of the name of an existing entity.
- Any Words: This looks for business entities with any of the words mentioned in the search term. The order of the words is not important, as long as they’re present in the business name. For example, searching for “Cat Dog” may show results like “Cat Inc, Dog LLC, or Cat And Dog L.L.C.”
- All Words: The business entity name must have all words mentioned in the search term. Using our previous example, for the search term “Cat Dog”, the only plausible results will be those that have both words in their name. The order of words isn’t important.
- Exact: This looks for an exact match of the name of the business and the search term entered. This search is very specific, where the search term and the result must be an exact match.
- SOS ID: Every business entity is assigned a specific SOS ID at the time they’re officially created. You can use this ID to search for a specific business. As is evident, this is a very specific search and its only result will be the business associated with the ID.
Information Accessible Through The Business Entity Search
If your search has relevant results available, you will see a new page that has information listed according to entity name, entity type, SOS ID, Date Formed, Status, and Online Annual Report filing.
This is a fairly informative page, but there are available options to get further information on a specific business entity. You can click on the name of an entity on the results page to get further details.
On the page of a specific entity, you’ll find several options and information available. This can depend on the type of entity, but the results are usually similar.
The page includes an option to view document filings or file/amend documents like the annual report. Information on the business name and its status, fiscal month, annual report status, SOS ID, etc. is available. The listing also shows the various addresses a business may have (registered office, principal office, etc.). It’s also possible to purchase a Certificate of Existence on this page.
How To Reserve A Business Name In North Carolina
The name of a business is the key part of its existence. It’s how the customers and clients will see the business. Indeed, it might even represent the first impression a business has on prospective customers.
Considering the number of businesses in existence, it isn’t always possible to get the name you want. So, if you have struck upon a name that is both attractive and available, it might be a good idea to reserve that name.
Simply reserving a name is usually faster and simpler than going through the entire process of forming your business. There is always a chance that someone else might grab that name while you prepare to start your company.
A good solution here is to buy yourself some time with the name reservation, while working on the logistics to start your business. While we consider only one scenario here, there might be other reasons as well for name reservation. These could deal with taxation, better preparation, or for that matter, any other reason.
Is It Mandatory To Reserve A Name In North Carolina?
No, the state doesn’t require you to reserve a name for your business entity. The only reason to go this route is if you see a specific benefit in reserving a business name with the state.
In the event that you’re not interested, or don’t really need a reservation, it’s best not to spend resources on this exercise.
How Long Does A Name Reservation In NC Last And What Does It Cost?
Once the NC Secretary of State accepts your name reservation request, it is good for 120 days. The form has a filing fee of $30.
However, keep in mind that the state doesn’t allow renewals. Once the 120 days are up, the name will be available for reservation or registration to whoever wants it. So be strategic and careful with the name reservation.
Filing A Name Reservation Request In North Carolina
When you have a name in mind, you can file the Application To Reserve A Business Entity Name with the NC SOS. This application is available on the Forms page of the SOS website. Filings must be accompanied by a “Cover Sheet For Corporate Filing”. This sheet is available on the forms page.
You’ll need to download and fill the appropriate form. The check or money order for the filing fee should be made payable to “North Carolina Secretary of State”. Once it’s ready, you can mail the form and the filing fee to:
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, North Carolina 27626-0622
Another option is to use the pdf upload portal and send your form electronically. This is a better option and can save both time and effort.
There is only one name option available on the name reservation application. It’s always a good idea to do your due diligence and check for name availability using North Carolina business entity search. This can dramatically increase the chances of your filing being accepted.