How to Change Your Business Name
Changing your business name is relatively simple, but it may require extra steps that are easy to overlook. Here are some common questions that arise when renaming a business:
How Do I Change My Business Name?
Officially, if you own a Corporation or LLC, you’ll have to register the change with your state. In most states, you’ll have to file articles of amendment with the Secretary of State—though the name of the form and the relevant state agency can vary.
Some states, such as Oregon and Colorado, require a specific name change document to be filed, rather than a generalized article of amendment form.
Learn more about how to file Articles of Amendment.
Is My New Business Name Even Available?
Before you commit and send the articles of amendment or name change form, you should make certain that your new name isn’t already in use. Business name availability can be checked on most secretary of state websites—plus Northwest offers links and step-by-step guides to name check tools in every state on our Free Business Name Search page.
When changing your business name, you should also make certain that you can get a domain name (web address) for your company website that matches or incorporates your new name. That also goes for a custom URL or name for your company’s Facebook page, Twitter, and other social media.
Look up your preferred new name online, and see if anything similar pops up, and what your competition will be. Do your best to keep your potential URL distinct, short, and easy for your customers to remember.
You should also do a trademark search to find out if someone has registered your business name with the USPTO.
Is There Other Legal Material That Needs To Be Updated After A Name Change?
You’ll need to update your company’s internal documents to reflect the name change, such as corporate bylaws and LLC operating agreements, as well as other legal agreements.
You should also check in with these entities to make sure if you need to update other accounts or file additional paperwork:
• Your bank, to change the name on your company bank account
• Your local government offices (such as city or county government), to update any permits or business licenses in your old company name
• The IRS, to see if you need a new EIN (which is rare, but may be required)
How Do I Change My Business Name With The IRS?
Even if you don’t need a new EIN, you’ll still want to get in touch with the IRS to notify them of your name change. According to the IRS Business Name Change resource, the method for changing your business name depends on the type of business you own.
For example, partnerships and corporations can change their business name with the IRS within their respective tax forms—but sole proprietors must notify the IRS of the change with a signed letter to the address where their return was filed.
How Do I Update My Business Name On My Bank Account?
Banks have their own rules for changing names. You definitely must update the business name on the account after a change, but your bank should be able to guide you through the process if you contact them about doing so.
Can I Change A Business Name In An Annual Report?
No. Many states allow some business information to be updated on an annual report—like addresses or members of a board—but changing your business name is an action unto itself and cannot be lumped in with your annual report filing.
Can I Just Get A DBA?
A DBA (“doing business as”) is a fictitious name given to business entities that file paperwork with the state under one name (their legal business name), but do business under another. This designation is most common with sole proprietorships and partnerships. This is because the legal business name of a sole proprietorship is automatically the sole proprietor’s legal name and the legal business name of a partnership is a list of the partners’ names—any other name is a DBA. However, DBAs are used by LLCs and corporations, too.
A DBA doesn’t technically change your business name, but it can offer a layer of anonymity by branding your business under a pseudonym. It can also lend your business credibility or help you market to a new audience.
Is There Anything Else I Should Do When Changing My Business Name?
Make sure your business name is updated wherever it has a public presence. This includes signage, social media accounts, websites, email addresses, merchandise, business cards, as well as any other specialized public presence that may pertain to your business.