There are many reasons to change your company name.
Your business may be going through an identity crisis, and you need a new name that targets your ideal demographic.
Maybe you are using a legacy name that’s affecting your business.
Whatever your reasons, it is possible to change the name of your LLC.
There are even LLC services that can do all the filing with the state for you.
The Easy Parts of Changing the Name of Your LLC
You’re right in assuming that changing your company name is not an easy process. However, some steps are easier than others. First, you’ll need to file an Articles of Amendment with the state to get the process rolling. You don’t need any legal expertise to fill out and file the required form.
You can get the required form for free from the Secretary of State website. Additionally, you’ll get the necessary information and instructions to help you file your application on the website.
You can make this process even easier by using an LLC service like LegalZoom. LegalZoom will take care of the major processes for you. These include creating the amendment paperwork and filing it with the state. You won’t have to worry about where to get the correct forms, how to fill them out, where to send your application, or any other particulars of the process.
LegalZoom prices start at $129 plus state fees.
The Difficult Parts of Changing the Name of Your LLC
While changing your company name can be straightforward, it is still a lengthy process once you know your state rules. Bureaucracies can get in the way of a timely name change. You may need to consider this factor if you need to hit a deadline, such as launching a new product line under the new LLC name.
Deciding on a new company name can also be a challenge. You’ll need to do a trademark search. It is a waste of your time to fill in all the correct documents only to find that the name is already registered as a trademark. Additionally, getting the LLC members on board with the name change can be a drawn-out process. At the very least, you may need to schedule a formal meeting and write a formal amendment reflecting the member’s decision.
You’ll also need to change your information in your operating agreement, bank account, checks, contracts, social media, and insurance policies, among other documents and assets. This can be a lengthy process but is necessary for legal and branding purposes.
If you are ready to go ahead and change your company name, here is what you need to do step-by-step.
Step 1 – Choose an LLC Service
Wrapping your mind around the requirements for changing your company name can be overwhelming. In addition, these requirements vary from one state to another. A helping hand will prove invaluable in expediting the process and making it easier. LLC services help businesses file legal documents, among other services.
Sign Up With Your LLC Service
For this step, I chose LegalZoom. This LLC service offers a simple signup process and transparent fees. There’s also an expedited option if you need to change your LLC name quickly.
Start by choosing your business type and where your company was formed from the dropdown menu. Completing this information will reveal the filing fees for your state.
Choose Your Plan
Choose your plan and click Get Started. I chose the Standard plan. This option is good enough for most people. But, feel free to select the Rush plan if you’re in a hurry to change your business name.
Next, click Create an account.
Enter your email address and a password you’d like to use for the account.
Finally, click Create My Account to get started.
Prepare to File Your Documents
Before you can go ahead to change your LLC name, there are a few requirements you’ll need to get out of the way. Please read on to find out what to do before LegalZoom can take over the filing process.
Step 2 – Consider Using a Fictitious Business Name
You may not need to change your legal business name entirely. In this case, it is helpful to explore alternatives. You may want to see if a “doing business as” or DBA form is better. A DBA is like a nickname for your business.
For example, say you chose FW Beans World as your business name for your coffee business. But, you expand into the bakery business and decide that this name doesn’t reflect accurately in your marketing materials. So, FW Beans World can file a DBA to use the company name FW Bakers World.
You can now use FW Bakers World’s business name for your bakery business, but your legal business name remains the same. If this option sounds appealing, please read on. Otherwise, skip to the next step.
Here’s how to file a DBA for your business:
Fill Out Paperwork
The paperwork you have to fill to register a fictitious business name depends on your state. Some states require you to register with the state government. In other cases, you may only need to file with the city or county government.
In Colorado, for example, you can file your DBA on the Secretary of State’s website. You’ll need to fill out a specific form depending on your business structure, such as LLC, corporation, or partnership. Some of the information you’ll need to provide on the form includes:
- The trade name
- A Description of the business
- The trade name’s effective date
Please note that you cannot file a DBA in some states. These states include Kansas, New Mexico, and South Carolina. However, you can search your local Secretary of State website for more information on filing a DBA.
The cost of filing your DBA ranges between $10 and $100, depending on your state.
File Your DBA With LegalZoom
You can avoid the hustle and let LegalZoom file your DBA. LegalZoom prices for filing your DBA start at $99, excluding the state filing fees. You can create your LegalZoom account here to begin the process.
This price also includes:
- Preliminary name search where required
- Completing and filing your DBA application
- Filing proof of publication if required
- Publishing your business name if required
I won’t get too much into the details of how to file a DBA with LegalZoom. The process looks almost exactly like filing your Articles of Amendment. Please refer to the following sections for step-by-step details of what the process might look like.
Step 3 – Search the New Business Name
Before taking the legal route to change your company’s name, you first want to make sure that the new name is available. In most cases, the state will reject your request to change your company’s name if another LLC or corporation in your state uses the same name or a similar name. Getting this potential barrier out of the way will eliminate delays once you offset the process in the next step.
Go to the Secretary of State Website
You may want to avoid websites that claim to let you conduct a free search. These websites either collect your information or charge a fee. Instead, you can cut out the middleman and perform the search yourself. To do this, visit the Secretary of State website for the state where your company is registered.
You may need to play around with the words in the search box if your desired name produces too many results.
Don’t Forget Your State’s Requirements
It’s worth looking up your state’s requirements for company names. In most cases, you’ll have to include an ending such as Limited Liability Company, L.L.C, or simply LLC. You also can’t use words such as Corporation or Inc. if you are an LLC. The same applies to naming your company Trust or Bank unless it is a financial institution.
It’s worth reviewing your state’s rules for naming a company. The regulations might have changed or updated since the last time you registered your business name.
Step 4 – Get LLC Member Approval for the Name Change
If you own a multi-member LLC, you’ll need the member’s approval before you can change the company name. Most states won’t let you change the company name without the member’s consent.
Refer to Your Operating Agreement
Although not mandatory in most states, this is where your operating agreement comes in handy. This crucial business document outlines the procedure for deciding essential matters, such as changing the company name. You may need to hold a formal meeting or reach an informal agreement between the members.
Write Up a Resolution
You’ll need to write up a resolution regardless of how members reach an agreement. This written copy is proof of the owner or member’s resolution to change the LLC name. File this resolution together with your other essential business documents. Please note that the member resolution to change the company name is valid for 30 days. You’ll need to file Articles of Amendment within this time or repeat this step.
Step 5 – File Articles of Amendment With LegalZoom
If you are sure that changing your company name is the way to go, you can file Articles of Amendment to complete the process. You file this document when you need to update the company information you submitted in the formation document, the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization.
LegalZoom will take care of this entire process for you.
Enter Existing Business Information
Log into your LegalZoom account to start the process. The first thing will be to enter your current business information. This will include your company’s full legal name as it appears on your Certificate/Articles of Organization.
Next, fill in your current business address information and click Continue to go to the next step.
Choose the Amendment Option
There are two options for the business name change. First, check the Formation State box if your LLC was formed and registered in the same state. Alternatively, choose the Foreign Qualification State box if your company is registered in a different state than the formation state.
Click Continue to proceed.
Enter the New Business Name
The next step is entering your new company name.
You’ll then provide the name of the person authorized to sign the amendment. You can refer to the Operating Agreement or consult the other members if you are unsure of the person authorized to sign on behalf of the LLC.
Choose a Payment Option
Now it’s time to pay LegalZoom to take charge of changing your LLC name. There are two packages on offer, the Standard and Expedited Amendment Package. The latter is more expensive, but it’s an express service. This means LegalZoom will prioritize preparing and processing your Articles of Amendment. However, the Standard option is still great if you are not in a rush to change your company name.
Choose Your Shipping Method
Once again, LegalZoom offers a few different shipping options. These include standard shipping, two-day delivery, and overnight delivery. The option you choose depends on how quickly you’d like to receive your filed document after it’s received from the state.
Step 6 – Complete Your Order Information
There’s just one step left before LegalZoom can proceed to take care of the LLC name change on your behalf. You’ll mainly be providing your contact details and payment details to wrap things up.
Provide a Primary Contact
The primary contact is the person that LegalZoom can contact regarding the order. This doesn’t have to be your information. You can add another member’s information to give them access to the order.
Be sure to notify the primary contact if you choose another member as the direct contact.
Provide a Shipping Address
This only applies if the shipping address is different from the primary contact details. Please disregard this step if this isn’t the case. Otherwise, provide the details for where you’d like LegalZoom to ship your filed document.
Provide Your Payment Information
Finally, provide your payment details, including your card number and billing zip code. LegalZoom only accepts card payments.
Finally, click Agree & Place Order to complete your order.
The only thing left is to wait for your filed documents in the mail!
Step 7 – Update Your Business Documentation
Once the state approves your requested name, it’s time to update your business documentation. Some of these documents and details to update may include:
Amend Your Operating Agreement
It’s a good idea to update your operating agreement any time there is a change in your company. Be sure to change the business name in your operating agreement. Although not mandated by the state in most cases, an updated operating agreement ensures that all the LLC members work from the same script.
Update Your Tax Information
You will also need to notify the IRS, state, and local tax authorities about the changed company name. This process may vary depending on the kind of LLC you operate and how it is taxed.
A single-member LLC is typically taxed as a sole proprietor. In this case, you’ll have to write directly to the IRS to inform the agency of the name change. You’ll use the same address where you file your tax returns.
In many instances, the IRS taxes multi-member LLCs as partnerships. Companies falling in this category can note the name change when filling the year’s Form 1065. This procedure also applies to an LLC taxed as a corporation. Likewise, you’ll mark the appropriate name change box when filing the current year’s Form 1120.
Update Your Business Accounts and Contracts
Review all of your LLC financial accounts and other accounts. You’ll need to change the company name for all of these accounts. Some of the ones to consider include:
- Business bank accounts
- Company credit cards
- Business checks
- Mortgages and leases
- Insurance policies
- Client contracts
- Vendor and supplier accounts
- County properties records
Update Your Administrative, Sales, and Marketing Assets
There is a lot of ground to cover when updating your business name. Don’t forget your administrative, sales, and marketing assets. These assets also need to reflect your new company name. Some of the assets to consider include:
- Social media accounts
- Company website
- Office or store signage
- Online directories
- Review websites
- Promotional items
- Business cards