Q: Can Inc. be removed from the name of my business?
Thank you to a customer from New York for this question about corporation names! It may seem like a simple question, but in fact, New York law has strict requirements when it comes to naming business entities. These requirements are in place to ensure businesses are differentiated from one another in the state record—in terms of both name and entity type. Here’s what you need to know about naming your corporation in New York:
1. Include required terms
2. Be distinguishable in the public record
Your corporation’s name may not be too similar to the name of any other corporation registered in New York, including fictitious names associated with foreign corporations. Ultimately, the New York Department of State determines whether or not a name is distinguishable enough from any other. But it’s a good idea to use the state’s Business Entity Database to see if your desired name is already in use. (In which case, you would have to choose another name.)
Can I make sure my name is available before I submit my Articles of Incorporation?
Yes. The best way to ensure your desired name is available is to write directly to the New York Department of State, Corporations Division. You’ll have to contact the Corporations Division in a written letter, and ask about your specific name or names. (Note that you’ll be charged $5 for each name you ask about.) Send your correspondence to:
Department of State, Division of Corporations
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
The state also has a business entity database that includes information for entities such as LLCs, LPs, LLPs, and corporations. While the state notes that the system is not intended to be used for finding available names, conducting some simple searches is a good first step for ruling out names that are clearly unavailable.
Can I reserve my desired name before I submit my Articles of Incorporation?
Yes. Just fill out an Application for Reservation of Name and submit your application to the Department of State, Corporations Division. This will reserve your name for up to 60 days. The filing fee is $20.
3. Do NOT use restricted words or phrases
New York State Law prohibits corporations from having a name that might contradict state law, or mislead the public. For the most part, this pertains to words associated with certain regulated professions. For instance, using a term like “bank” or “doctor” when a corporation does not operate in the financial or medical sectors. You may consult the state’s Restricted Words and Phrases database if you’re unsure of what you may use in your corporation’s name.
What if a restricted word or phrase is integral to the service my corporation provides?
In some cases, corporations are permitted to use certain words or phrases—but only with the consent of the relevant government agency. For example, if you want to use the word “bank,” you must have approval from the New York Superintendent of Financial Services.