Create an LLC

Can you change the name of your LLC?

If you are having second thoughts about the name of your LLC, you can change it by filing articles of amendment. Here's the steps you need to know to legally change your LLC's name.

Jump to:
section

Table of Contents

Yes, you can change the name of your LLC by filing “Articles of Amendment” with your state of incorporation and any other state where your LLC has foreign qualification to transact business. Once approved, you may start running your company under the new business name.

Generally, you won’t be required to dissolve your limited liability company (LLC) and start over as a new business entity following a name change. This makes it quite easy for business owners to alter company names should the situation require doing so.

For example, perhaps the original name was coined based on a partner who left the business. Maybe it just doesn’t work anymore. Or you may have found a new name that creates an identity that customers can relate more with. It would make sense to rename the business, considering up to 77% of buyers make purchase decisions based on the name of a brand1.

In fact, the name of your LLC “can be one of the most valuable assets”, according to a Nielsen study2. Therefore, if you are thinking about it, then you are likely justified to go for a name change. Read on to find out how you can do it in seven simple steps.

Key takeaways

  • You can change the name of your LLC by filing articles of amendment with your state and every state where your business operates.
  • For multi-member LLCs, you will need to obtain the consent of all shareholders before starting the name change process.
  • Once a business name change is approved by your state, you will also need to notify the IRS, tax agencies and state licensing bodies about your new name.
  • An alternative to changing your business name is using an assumed or fictitious name.

Steps to change the name of your LLC

The process of a business name change starts with a name availability search and ends once you’ve changed to the new name in all your branding materials. Here’s a step-by-step procedure to follow:

Step 1: Run a name search to see if your new name is available

Before attempting a business name change, you will want to ensure that the new name you’ve chosen is available for use in your state. Most states will allow you to run a name availability search in the secretary of state’s website. If not, you can check with other business filing agencies within your state.

The general rule is that your new name should be different from any other corporation name already registered in your state. Oftentimes you won’t even be allowed to choose a name that’s too similar to another company’s name. Therefore, make it as unique as possible before proceeding to the amendment phase. Beyond that, your preferred name should also comply with all legal requirements of an LLC or corporation name in your state.

For instance, most states require that any business formed by incorporation must include “Limited,” “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” or an abbreviation like Inc., or LLC in its name3. Make sure to check your secretary of state’s website for all the rules regarding company names before you embark on a name change.

Step 2: Get the consent of other LLC members

If your business is a multi-member LLC, you may need an approved resolution from all the members before changing the company name. In fact, your LLC operating agreement may contain specific guidelines for changing the business name. For example, it may grant all members of the LLC voting rights with regards to any name changes. In case of such (or any closely related) provisions, make sure to have a written resolution confirming the consent of all the members.

If the operating agreement of your multi-member LLC doesn’t have laws regarding changes to the legal name of the company, then consider looking at local, state and federal laws that may apply by default. It never hurts to seek legal advice as well. That will ensure everything you do is by the book.

Needless to say, single-member LLCs generally don’t need an operating agreement4. Thus, the decision to change your business name will come down to you, and you won’t necessarily need to get the consent of other people as is the case with a multi-member LLC.

Step 3: File articles of amendment

When setting up your company, either you or your registered agent filed formation documents with the state. One of those documents is the LLC’s articles of organization. You will need to amend those articles in order to change the name of your business.

States usually provide amendment forms that you can use for this. In California, for example, you will need to fill out and file the Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation – Name Change. New York business owners must use the Certificate of Change. Each state has its own form, so be sure to visit your secretary of state’s website to find out exactly which documents you need to file. This should typically be done at least 30 days after obtaining a written resolution from your co-owners in a multi-member LLC.

The process of filing articles of amendment is generally simple and straightforward. You won’t need much apart from entering your current business name, the new name and some basic info about your company. While most states allow you to file online, some may require that you mail a hard copy of the document. Whatever the case, there will be a filing fee.

Step 4: Make the necessary changes to your LLC operating agreement

When you file articles of amendment, you will change the legal name of your business as it appears in the articles of organization. But this does not affect your internal documents. Thus, you will also need to change the name in your company’s documentation, starting with the LLC operating agreement.

Doing so allows you to start trading under your new name. This means you can legally enter contracts and make agreements using the new name.

Step 5: Notify taxing agencies

Once your new LLC name is approved and you have amended the LLC operating agreement, you can go ahead and notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about your name change. The IRS typically won’t require you to apply for a new Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you are only changing the name of your company.

The process of notifying the Internal Revenue Service will vary depending on your business structure and how you file tax returns.

  • If the business is a single-member LLC that’s taxed as a sole proprietorship, you may write to the IRS at the address where you usually file your tax returns, notifying them of your name change.
  • In case your business is a multi-member LLC that’s taxed as a partnership, simply mark the name change box in your Form 1065 to notify the IRS that you have changed the name of your LLC. If you have already filed your yearly tax returns, you may write to the IRS at the address where you file your tax returns, notifying them of your name change.
  • If your LLC business is taxed as a corporation, mark the name change box in your Form 1120 (or 1120 if it’s an S-corporation) to notify the IRS that you have changed your business name. In case you’ve already filed tax returns for the year, you may write to the IRS at the address where you usually file your tax returns, notifying them of your name change.

Besides the Internal Revenue Service, you will also need to notify state and local taxing agencies about your LLC name change. State laws vary, but you will generally be required to provide a copy of a certificate of name change (or certificate of amendment) as evidence that you indeed changed the name of your company.

Of course, each state has its own taxing agencies. Some states like Florida have only one agency – the Florida Department of Revenue. Others like California have more than one, including the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), and the California State Board of Equalization (BOE).

If your state has more than one tax agency, you will need to notify each one of them. Additionally, if you have business licenses, you will also need to inform the agencies that issued you with those business licenses about your name change. Every state agency will almost certainly ask you to submit a copy of your certificate of name change.

Step 6: Change the LLC name in business accounts

After making adjustments in your business licenses and tax information, the next thing to do after a legal name change is update your business bank account. This involves changing the name of the account to reflect your new name, and ordering new credit cards and checks. Depending on the relationship you have with your financial institution, they may offer free replacement checks to accompany your newly-named business bank account.

In addition, you will also want to notify other parties that you regularly work with about your name change. These include lenders, landlords, vendors, suppliers, insurance companies etc.

Although a name change doesn’t usually affect underlying contracts and documents, you can still consider drawing up a novation agreement should you deem it necessary. This will allow your new name to replace the old name. Alternatively, you can create a letter of agreement regarding the specific name change and have the involved parties sign it.

Finally, don’t forget to change your LLC name in trading documents like invoices, receipts, and purchase orders. While at it, remember to also amend the signage on all these documents so that it reflects your new business name.

Step 7: Complete business name change in everything else

This final step will take the most time and effort because it involves changing the name of your company in your marketing materials and anything else that uses the old name. It’s essentially a rebrand because you’ll need to produce new business cards, brochures, forms, letterheads and stationery – complete with new signage that reflects your new business name.

In case you trademarked your business name, you will need to fill and submit a trademark assignment form. You can do so through the Electronic Trademark Assignment System (ETAS). This will give you continued trademark protection for the new name.

At this point, go ahead and update your website and social media to reflect the new business name. You may need to update the website’s privacy policy as well as its terms and conditions. Make sure the name change doesn’t leave your business exposed in any way. This is one reason why seeking legal advice might be a good idea – because a good business lawyer might help you figure out whether a name change creates exposure in any way.

Depending on your budget, you may finalize the name change process by advertising the new name to your customers. This will help them know that they are still buying from the same company. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to advertise your company, whether after a name change or simply to reach a wider audience. Check out this guide on how to market your business at any budget.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a new EIN if I change the name of my company?

According to the IRS, you generally don’t need to obtain a new EIN after changing the name of your LLC5. However, you will need to apply for a new one if your business is a single-member LLC whose primary name is your name and you’ve been using your own name and EIN to file and pay employment tax.

Say, for example, that your name is John Smith and you’ve been trading as John Smith Ltd or simply John Smith (using your personal name) and filing taxes using your personal EIN. You will be required to obtain a new EIN the moment you complete a name change to switch from your personal name and use a business name for your LLC. For more information on this, check out the IRS’s publication on how a name change may affect your LLC.

How much does it cost to change the name of an LLC?

While there are no costs for changing your LLC name with the IRS, most states charge a fee of between $20 and $1506. This amount goes into processing the paperwork associated with changing the name of your company.

Can you change your LLC business type?

Apart from changing your LLC name, it’s also possible to change its structure. Switching from a limited liability company to a sole proprietorship will require you to close down the corporation and create a new business as a sole proprietor.

Similarly, if you wish to change your business type from LLC to partnership, you may do so by closing down the corporation, drawing up a partnership agreement, and filing formation documents for the new partnership business.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships are unincorporated businesses. They generally offer lesser liability protection compared to limited liability companies. That’s why it’s usually a better idea to change from an unincorporated entity to an LLC than the other way round.

Even after forming an LLC, you can still change its structure from an S-corporation to a C-corporation and vice-versa. Generally, you can switch from an S-corp to a C-corp by voluntarily revoking your S status. On the other hand, switching from a C-corp to an S-corp will require that you file Form 2553 with the IRS. This will essentially notify the IRS that you intend to file taxes as a C-corp and not an S-corp, thus effectively changing your business structure from an S to a C. It’s worth mentioning that every owner in a multi-member LLC must sign Form 2553 before filing for the switch to take effect.

Can I use a fictitious name instead of changing my LLC name?

Yes, it’s possible to use a fictitious business name instead of changing your current LLC name altogether. Also known as a “doing business as” name (or DBA name for short), a fictitious business name gives you the legal authority to use a particular name without having to drop or change your current business name.

Registering a DBA name is fairly simple and inexpensive. You only need to file “doing business as” documentation with your state. The exact documents vary between states. In New York, for example, it’s known as a Certificate of Assumed Name.

One advantage of using a fictitious name is that your company’s legal name remains the same for the IRS, vendors, suppliers and licensing agencies. However, you will have to consult with your bank to see if you need to set up a new business bank account or if the DBA can simply be added to your account. You’ll also need to change the business name to the DBA name in branding materials like website, signage and social media.

References

  1. Lauren Pope. “90 Branding Statistics to Help You Make a Good Impression.” G2, 12 Nov. 2020, https://learn.g2.com/branding-statistics
  2. Nielsen. “Looking To Achieve New Product Success? Listen To Your Consumers.” June 2015, https://www.nielsen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2019/04/nielsen-global-new-product-innovation-report-june-2015.pdf
  3. CorpNet. “Business Name Restrictions: What to Know Before Registering Your Business.” 12 Apr. 2018, https://www.corpnet.com/blog/business-name-restrictions/
  4. David M. Steingold. “Single-Member LLC Operating Agreements.” Nolo, 28 May 2022, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/single-member-llc-operating-agreements.html
  5. IRS. “Do You Need a New EIN?” 28 May 2022, https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/do-you-need-a-new-ein
  6. Truic. “Changing The Name of Your LLC: What You Should Know.” 28 May 2022, https://howtostartanllc.com/form-an-llc/changing-the-name-of-your-llc

5 Steps To Form Your LLC

1
Choose an available business name
2
Designate a registered agent
3
File all your state-required paperwork (Articles of Organization, operating agreement, etc.)
4
Get a federal tax ID (EIN) number
5
Make sure to pay all mandatory annual fees and state fees
Or, skip the above steps and let Nearside do it for you!
Form Your LLC Today
Free report and guide
How COVID-19 Impacted Incomes of the Self-Employed Workforce
How did the pandemic impact the income of  gig workers and entrepreneurs? Download to learn more.
Get The Report

More From