Corporation, LLC, and Fictitious Name Requirements

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Corporation, LLC, and Fictitious Name Requirements

How do you name your company? What are the requirements? There are many types of companies in the United States. When choosing a name of a corporation, LLC, fictitious name or other type of business it is important to know the legal requirements. Research will find that when naming a corporation, for example, most US states require a corporate designator to be placed at the end of the name. Examples of such endings include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Limited,” or their abbreviations “Corp,” “Inc.” or “Ltd.” All of the proceeding endings refer to a corporation and its ending indicates no legal difference in the company type. It is simply a matter of preference.

Other entity types and their designators include Limited Liability Company or LLC. Laypersons often refer to its misnomer, a Limited Liability Corporation. There is a Limited Partnership or LP. Then there is the Professional Corporation or PC, among others.

The fictitious name is a person or company doing business as (DBA) another name. For example, if your name is Pat Smith and you want to operate as “Smith Painting,” then most jurisdictions require the filing of a fictitious name statement. This type of business is called a sole proprietorship if it is owned by one person. It is called a general partnership if owned by two or more people.

The huge problem with sole proprietorships and general partnerships is that when the business is sued, the owners are personally liable to business lawsuits. One can lose personal assets if the organization not successful in defending itself. So, that is a big reason why many people form corporations, LLCs and similar entities. With those business types there are provisions such that when the business is sued the owners can be shielded from personal lability. Plus there are many more tax benefits and deductions associated with entities such as corporations and limited liability companies than with DBAs.

When naming a company, you will find the required designator for each state, the District of Columbia, and many US territories below.

State or Region Required in Company Name Statute
Alabama “corporation,” or “incorporated,” or an abbreviation of one of such words, or if a banking corporation the words “bank,” “banking,” or “bankers” § 10-2B-4.01(a)(1) Code of Alabama 1975
Alaska “corporation”, “company”, “incorporated”, or “limited”, or an abbreviation of one of these words; may not contain the word “city”, “borough”, or “village” or otherwise imply that the corporation is a municipality. §10.06.105 (a) and (b), Alaska Corporations Code
Arizona “association”, “bank”, “company”, “corporation”, “limited” or “incorporated” or an abbreviation of one of these words or the equivalent in a foreign language. Corporation may not use “bank”, “deposit”, “credit union”, “trust” or “trust company” unless it also has a license to operate one. May not use “limited liability company” or “limited company” or the abbreviations “L.L.C.”, “L.C.”, “LLC” or “LC” §10-401 Arizona Revised Statutes
Arkansas “Corporation”, “Company”, or “Incorporated”, or shall contain an abbreviation of one of those words; but the name may not end with the word “Company” nor the abbreviation “Co.” if the final word or abbreviation is immediately preceded by “and” or any symbol for “and” §4-26-401 (1), Arkansas Code
California “corporation”, “incorporated” or “limited” or an abbreviation of one of such words is required and for a statutory close corporations for corporate provisions to apply. May not contain “bank,” ” trust,” “trustee” or “credit union” unless approved by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions. §202(a), California Corporations Code
Colorado “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, “limited”, “corp.”, inc.”, “co.” or “ltd”; If the corporation is a professional corporation, it must contain the term or abbreviation “professional corporation”, “p.c.”, or “pc”. §7-90-601, Colorado Revised Statutes
Connecticut “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, “Societa per Azioni” or “limited”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.”, “S.p.A.” or “ltd.” §33-655 General Statutes of Connecticut
Delaware “association,” “company,” “corporation,” “club,” “foundation,” “fund,” “incorporated,” “institute,” “society,” “union,” “syndicate,” or “limited,” (or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation), or words (or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation) of like import of foreign countries or jurisdictions (provided they are written in Roman characters or letters) Title 8, §102, Delaware Code
District of Columbia “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or “limited,” or shall contain an abbreviation of 1 of such words § 29-101.08 District of Columbia Official Code
Florida “corporation,” “company,” or “incorporated” or the abbreviation “Corp.,” “Inc.,” or “Co.,” or the designation “Corp,” “Inc,” or “Co,” §607.0401 Florida Statutes
Georgia ‘corporation,’ ‘incorporated,’ ‘company,’ or ‘limited,’ or the abbreviation ‘corp.,’ ‘inc.,’ ‘co.,’ or ‘ltd.,’ or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; must not be longer than 80 characters O.C.G.A. § 14-2-401
Guam “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” or “limited,” or the abbreviation “corp.,” “inc.,” “co.,” or “ltd.,” or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; if the word “company” or its abbreviation is used, it shall not be immediately preceded by the word “and” or an abbreviation or symbol representing the word “and.” Title 18, § 2110, Guam Code Annotated
Hawaii “corporation”, “incorporated”, or “limited”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, or “ltd.” §414-51 Hawaii Revised Statutes
Idaho “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” “limited,” or the abbreviation “corp.,” “inc.,” “co.,” or “ltd.,” or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; provided however, that if the word “company” or its abbreviation is used it shall not be immediately preceded by the word “and” or by an abbreviation of or symbol representing the word “and” §30-1-401 Idaho Statutes
Illinois “corporation”, “company”, “incorporated”, or “limited”, or an abbreviation of one of such words 805 ILCS 5/4.05 Illinois Compiled Statutes
Indiana “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.”, or “ltd.”, or words or abbreviations of like import in another language § 23-1-23-1 Indiana Code
Iowa “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.”, or “ltd.”, or words or abbreviations of like import in another language. §490.401 Iowa Acts
Kansas (except for banks) “association,” “church,” “college,” “company,” “corporation,” “club,” “foundation,” “fund,” “incorporated,” “institute,” “society,” “union,” “university,” “syndicate” or “limited,” or one of the abbreviations “co.,” “corp.,” “inc.,” “ltd.,” or words or abbreviations of like import in other languages if they are written in Roman characters or letters §17-6002 Kansas Statutes
Kentucky “corporation”, “incorporated” or the abbreviation “Inc.,” or the word “company” or the abbreviation “Co.”; but if the word “company” or the abbreviation “Co.” is used, it may not be immediately preceded by the word “and” or the abbreviation “&.” §273.177 Kentucky Revised Statutes
Louisiana (except for railroad, telegraph and telephone corporations) “Corporation”, “Incorporated” or “Limited”, or the abbreviation of any of those words, or may contain instead the word “Company” or the abbreviation “Co.” if the latter word or abbreviation is not immediately preceded by the word “and” or the symbol “&”. No corporate name shall contain the phrase “doing business as” or the abbreviation “d/b/a”. Only a bank or bank holding company is allowed to use any of “bank”, “banker”, “banking”, “savings”, “safe deposit”, “trust”, “trustee”, “building and loan”, “homestead”, “credit union”, “insurance”, “casualty”, “redevelopment corporation”, or “electric cooperative”. §12:23 Louisiana Revised Statutes
Maine words or abbreviations of words that describe the nature of the entity, including “professional association,” “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “chartered,” “limited,” “limited partnership,” “limited liability company,” “professional limited liability company,” “limited liability partnership,” “registered limited liability partnership,” “service corporation” or “professional corporation”; beginning July 1, 2007, may also include “limited liability limited partnership” for business corporations: Title 13-C § 401 Maine Revised Statutes; for non-profit corporations: Title 13-B § 301-A Maine Revised Statutes;
Maryland For Corporations: “Company”, if it is not preceded by the word “and” or a symbol for the word “and”; “Corporation”, “Incorporated” or “Limited” or abbreviations; for Limited liability companies: “limited liability company”, “L.L.C.”, “LLC”, “L.C.”, or “LC”; for Limited liability partnerships: “limited liability partnership”, “L.L.P.” or “LLP”; for Limited partnerships: “limited partnership”, “L.P.”, or “LP”; for Limited liability limited partnerships: “limited liability limited partnership”, “L.L.L.P.”, or “LLLP”; for Professional corporations: “chartered”, “chtd.”, “professional association”, “P.A.”, “professional corporation”, or “P.C.” Maryland Code CORPORATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS § 1-502
Massachusetts “any name which, in the judgment of the secretary, indicates that it is a corporation” GENERAL LAWS OF MASSACHUSETTS Chapter 155: Section 9
Michigan “corporation”, “company”, “incorporated”, or “limited” or shall contain 1 of the following abbreviations, corp., co., inc., or ltd. Act 284 of 1972 Section 450.1211 MICHIGAN BUSINESS CORPORATION ACT
Minnesota nonprofit corporations are not required to use any of these words; for business corporations, they must use “corporation,” “incorporated,” or “limited,” or shall contain an abbreviation of one or more of these words, or the word “company” or the abbreviation “Co.” if that word or abbreviation is not immediately preceded by the word “and” or the character “&” Chapter 302A, Section 302A.115 Minnesota Statutes (for Business Corporations); Chapter 317A, Section 317A.115 Minnesota Statutes (for non-profit corporations)
Mississippi “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company” or “limited,” or the abbreviation “corp.,” “inc.,” “co.” or “ltd.” or words or abbreviations of like import in another language § 79-4-4.01 Mississippi code
Missouri “corporation”, “company”, “incorporated”, or “limited”, or shall end with an abbreviation of one of said words Chapter 351 Section 351.110 Missouri Revised Statutes
Montana “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited”; the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.”, or “ltd.”; or words or abbreviations of similar meaning in another language 35-1-308 Montana Code Annotated
Nebraska corporation, incorporated, company, or limited, or the abbreviation corp., inc., co., or ltd., or words or abbreviations of like import in another language, except that a corporation organized to conduct a banking business under the Nebraska Banking Act may use a name which includes the word bank without using any such words or abbreviations Section 21-2028 State of Nebraska Statutes
Nevada No specific requirements stated except that a name appearing to be that of a natural person and containing a given name or initials must not be used as a corporate name except with an additional word or words such as “Incorporated,” “Limited,” “Inc.,” “Ltd.,” “Company,” “Co.,” “Corporation,” “Corp.,” or other word which identifies it as not being a natural person 78.035 Nevada Revised Statutes
New Hampshire Contain the word “corporation,” “incorporated,” or “limited” or the abbreviation “corp.” “”inc.”, or “ltd.” New Hampshire Revised Statutes TITLE XXVII; Section 293-A:4.01 for business corporations
New Jersey Shall contain the word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or shall contain an abbreviation of one of those words, or shall include the abbreviation Ltd. New Jersey Statutes 14A:2-2
New Mexico contain the separate word “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated” or “limited” or shall contain a separate abbreviation of one of these words New Mexico Statutes Unannotated 53-11-7
New York Shall contain the word “corporation”, “incorporated” or “limited”, or an abbreviation of one of such words; there is also a long list of words a business corporation is not allowed to use without additional approval from other agencies including “board of trade”, “state police”, “urban development”, “chamber of commerce”, “state trooper”, “urban relocation”, “community renewal”, “tenant relocation”, “acceptance”, “endowment”, “loan”, “annuity”, “fidelity”, “mortgage”, “assurance”, “finance”, “savings” and many others New York State Consolidated Laws, Business Corporations Law §301; Not-For-Profit Corporations Law, §301
North Carolina a corporation must contain the word “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.”, or “ltd.”; a limited liability company must contain the words “limited liability company” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC”, or the combination “ltd. liability co.”, “limited liability co.”, or “ltd. liability company”; a limited partnership that is not a limited liability limited partnership must contain the words “limited partnership”, the abbreviation “L.P.” or “LP”, or the combination “ltd. partnership”; a limited liability limited partnership must contain the words “registered limited liability limited partnership” or “limited liability limited partnership” or the abbreviation “L.L.L.P.”, “R.L.L.L.P.”, “LLLP”, or “RLLLP”; a registered limited liability partnership’s name must contain the words “registered limited liability partnership” or “limited liability partnership” or the abbreviation “L.L.P.”, “R.L.L.P.”, “LLP” or “RLLP”. North Carolina General Statutes § 55D‑20
North Dakota must contain the word “company”, “corporation”, “incorporated”, “limited”, or an abbreviation of one or more of these words; may not contain the words “limited liability company”, “limited partnership”, “limited liability partnership”, “limited liability limited partnership”, or any abbreviation of these words. North Dakota century Code 10-19.1-13
Ohio It shall end with or include the word or abbreviation “company,” “co.,” “corporation,” “corp.,” “incorporated,” or “inc.” Ohio Revised Code §1701.05
Oklahoma The name of the corporation which shall contain one of the words “association”, “company”, “corporation”, “club”, “foundation”, “fund”, “incorporated”, “institute”, “society”, “union”, “syndicate”, or “limited” or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation Oklahoma Statutes §18-1006
Oregon For private corporations it shall contain one or more of the words “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company” or “limited” or an abbreviation of one or more of those words; shall not contain the word “cooperative.” For non-profit corporations there is no specific requirement except the name cannot imply a purpose not dictated in its articles of incorporation and cannot contain the word “cooperative” or the phrase “limited partnership.” Oregon Revised Statutes 60.094 for Private Corporations; ORS 65.094 for Non-Profit corporations
Pennsylvania Corporation, Corp., Company, Co., Incorporated, Inc., Limited, Ltd., Association., Fund., Syndicate or words or abbreviations of like import in languages other than English. Pennsylvania Code, Chapter 19, §23.3
Puerto Rico Corporation, Corp. or Inc., or words or abbreviations of like import in other languages, provided they are written in roman letters or characters. Title 14, Subtitle 4, §2602, Laws of Puerto Rico.
Rhode Island “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” or “limited,” or an abbreviation of one of these words Rhode Island General Laws § 7-1.2-401
South Carolina “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”, or “limited”, the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.”, or “ltd.”, or words or abbreviations of like import in another language South Carolina Code of Laws Section 33-4-101
South Dakota corporation, incorporated, company, or limited, or the abbreviation, corp., inc., co., or ltd., or terms or abbreviations of like import in another language South Dakota Codified Laws 47-1A-401
Tennessee “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” or the abbreviation “corp.,” “inc.,” “co.,” or words or abbreviations of like import in another language (provided they are written in Roman characters or letters); existing corporations which were formed using only “limited” or “ltd” are not required to change their name § 48-14-101 Tennessee Code
Texas “company,” “corporation,” “incorporated,” or “limited,” or an abbreviation of one of those words. Texas Business Organizations Code § 5.054
U.S. Virgin Islands name shall be such as to indicate that it is a corporation as distinguished from a natural person or partnership. Title Thirteen, § 2, Virgin Islands Code
Utah “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company”; the abbreviation: “corp.”, “inc.” or “co.” or words or abbreviations of like import to the words or abbreviations listed in another language; without the written consent of the United States Olympic Committee, may not contain the words “Olympic”, “Olympiad”, or “Citius Altius Fortius”; without the written consent of the Division of Consumer Protection may not contain the words “university”, “college” or “institute” § 16-10a-401 Utah Code
Vermont “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” or “limited,” or the abbreviation “corp.,” “inc.,” “co.,” or “ltd.,” or words or abbreviations of like import in another language; shall not have the word “cooperative” or any abbreviation thereof as part of its name unless the corporation is a worker cooperative corporation; Title 11A, § 4.01 Vermont Statutes
Virginia “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” or “limited,” or the abbreviation “corp.,” “inc.,” “co.,” or “ltd.” § 13.1-630. Code of Virginia
Washington “corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” or “limited,” or the abbreviation “corp.,” “inc.,” “co.,” or “ltd.”; must not include “Bank,” “banking,” “banker,” “trust,” “cooperative,” or any combination of the words “industrial” and “loan,” or any combination of any two or more of the words “building,” “savings,” “loan,” “home,” “association,” and “society,” § 23B.04.010 Revised Code of Washington
West Virginia “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company” or “limited”, or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.” or “ltd.”, or words or abbreviations of like import in another language §31D-4-401 West Virginia Code
Wisconsin “corporation”, “incorporated”, “company” or “limited” or the abbreviation “corp.”, “inc.”, “co.” or “ltd.” or words or abbreviations of like import in another language §180.0401 Wisconsin Statutes (forStock corporations) and §181.0401 Wisconsin Statutes (for non-stock corporations)
Wyoming No corporate designator is required. However, the typical designators  “corporation,” “company,” “incorporated,” “limited,” and the usual abbreviations of “Corp.” “Co.” “Inc.” and “Ltd.” are most often used. § 17-16-401. Wyoming Statutes
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