Reserving Your Business's Name
After you decide what type of business you want to have, then the fun begins and you can start thinking of names for your new business!
Many businesses spend hours, sometimes days, thinking of the perfect name. But what happens if you come up with the most perfect name, you start the process of creating your business, and by the time you try to get a certificate of incorporation, certificate of organization or certificate of limited partnership, your name has been taken by someone else!
To prevent this from happening, the Georgia Secretary of State (SOS) provides an opportunity for you to reserve your name while you finish the process of making your business official. For just $25, you can get a valid name reservation number for 30 days. During those 30 days, you can file your entity’s formation documents (using the name you’ve reserved) without the fear of someone else taking your name in the meantime.
If you let those 30 days go by without submitting your formation documents, your name reservation will expire. There is no renewal process. However, you can always reserve your name again (and pay another $25) if it’s still available.
You can file to reserve your name online using the eCorp website from SOS. There you can do a name search to ensure that no one has your name currently. Then you can reserve your name! They allow use of a credit card or ACH to pay for the filing fee.
Keep in mind, the name search online is just a preliminary search of the SOS databases. Someone at SOS will still have to do a detailed search in order to confirm that your name remains available.
You can download the Name Reservation Request form from the SOS website. Print it off, fill it out and mail it to:
Office of Secretary of State, Corporations Division
Name Reservation Request
2 Martin Luther King Jr. DR SE
Suite 313 West Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334
Be sure to include your $25 filing fee (in the form of check, cashier’s check or money order all made out to “Georgia Secretary of State”).
On the request form you can list the top 3 name choices you’ve created. Be sure to include your entity indicator (such as Corporation, Incorporated, Company, LLC, etc.). However, it is still possible for all 3 of those names to be taken.
If the SOS does not approve your name selection, they will send you a rejection notice by mail, e-mail or phone. You’ll then get instructions on how to submit another request and have 10 days to do this without more charges.
Being issued a name from the SOS means your name is distinguishable for filing purposes. However, that does NOT necessarily mean that the commercial availability of the name is valid. The true “owner” of a name remains a complicated process and SOS recommends that you seek legal counsel for your specific situation in order to understand it fully. Because of this, you should wait to advertise, purchase a seal or partake in legal transactions until after the formation of your entity and after you have a certificate of incorporation, organization or limited partnership from SOS.
Also, trade names are NOT registered with SOS. To do this, go to the clerk of the superior court in the county where the business is located.
Lastly, you do NOT have to file a name reservation in order to register your corporation, LLC or limited partnership. SOS just recommends you reserve your name first because it can save you time and money.
To learn more about name reservations, check in with the Georgia Secretary of State, Corporations Division.
About the Author
Bethany McDaniel is the Editorial Director for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, Ga., with degrees in Visual Communication and History.