Name Availability and Requirements

Name Availability 

After you've decided on the business structure you wish to register, your next step is to choose the business nameState law requires that the name requested be distinguishable from any other name registered in the state. One of the most common reasons for rejection of business filings is that the proposed name of the company is already in use in West Virginia. Check for name availability with the state agency that registers your particular business structure before filing.  

West Virginia State Tax Department LogoState Tax Department

To check for name availability for the following structures call the Business Registration Unit at (304) 558-3333 or 1-800-982-8297.
 
  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Association
  • Joint Venture

West Virginia Secretary of State Logo
Secretary of State 

To check for name availability for the following structures call the Business Division at (304) 558-8000 or 1-866-767-8683 for an informal, non-binding name check. You may also conduct an online search using the Business Organization Search system.
 
  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC/PLLC)
  • Limited Partnership (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Voluntary Association
  • Business Trust
  • Cooperative Association (agricultural or broadband internet services)
  • Unincorporated Non-Profit Association 
Take the following steps to ensure the name is available when filing through Secretary of State.
 
  1. Naming restrictions: Ensure the name does not violate the name restrictions for your particular business organization type. Review the "Corporate Name Ending Requirements" section below for important information regarding required company name endings prior to registering with the Office of Secretary of State.
  2. Name search: Search for the name(s) you are considering via the online Business Organization Search. This system only checks for names registered with West Virginia Secretary of State. It does not include name checks through the West Virginia State Tax Department. To ensure you see all the possible conflicts, search using only the most distinctive word in the name.
  3. Check availability: Call the Secretary of State Business Division at (304) 558-8000 for an informal, non-binding check. If the staff determines the name is available, you may file a Name Reservation and pay the reservation fee to reserve the name for 120 days allowing you time to prepare your Secretary of State business registration. 

Corporate Name Ending Requirements

When registering one of the following structures with the Secretary of State, you must include one of the corresponding corporate name endings for the type of business structure you are forming. The name ending may include the complete word spelled in its entirety or the corresponding abbreviation for the word. 
 
  • Corporation – “Corporation” (Corp.), “Incorporated” (Inc.), “Company” (Co.), “Limited” (Ltd.), or “Foundation” (“Foundation” is reserved for the exclusive use by non-profit organizations only)
  • Limited Liability Company – “Limited Liability Company” (LLC, L.L.C,), or “Limited Company” (LC, L.C., Ltd. Co.)
  • Professional Limited Liability Company – “Professional Limited Liability Company” (PLLC, P.L.L.C.), “Professional LLC”, or “Professional L.L.C." NOTE:  See Occupational and Professional Licenses and Permits. Chapter 30 of the West Virginia Code specifically defines the types of business activities which may register as a "professional" business activity.
  • Limited Partnership – “Limited Partnership” (LP, L.P.)
  • Limited Liability Partnership – “Limited Liability Partnership” (LLP, L.L.P.) 

Name Must Be Distinguishable from a Registered Name

In order for the name to be available, it must not already be registered in the state. The name must be distinguishable from any other name already registered. Please note that the following criteria are not considered when making the name distinguishable from an existing registered name: 
 
  • corporate name endings (Company, Corporation, Inc., Ltd., LLC, etc.)
  • word separators and articles such as "The," "A", And", "&", “-“, "/", etc.
  • singular versus plural words ("Food" vs. "Foods")
  • use of apostrophe(s) (“Farmer’s” vs. “Farmers”)
  • separated vs. combined words of the same name ("Cut Above" vs. "CutAbove")
​​
WV State Seal