Pennsylvania business search
You can search for business entities registered and operating in the state of Pennsylvania by using the official business search tool. It is the Pennsylvania Business Entity Search Tool. Read how to access the free tool below.
Why search for names?
Benefits of entity search tool
Checking entities in a state helps you as a business owner and a concerned citizen
You can check if your brand name is used by another company in a state.
To expand your business to another state, you can see check if your name is taken.
Find the people behind
As a concerned citizen, you can see the individuals and entities behind local businesses.
Before you file for trademarks, it is important to conduct thorough research into existing entity names.
Actions in Oregon
View step-by-step instructions on certain tasks you can do in the state.
How to form an LLC in Pennsylvania?
Follow these 7 steps:
1. Name your LLC
Think of a list of names for your business that your customers would find appealing. Show it to your friends and some customers and get their feedback. If you already have a few names in mind, great.
To check if those names are available in the state of Pennsylvania, go to the official entity search tool on the Secretary of State website. It’s free to search.
You can reserve a name with the state, by paying reservation fees. The reserved name will be expired after a specified duration. If you are filing Certificate of Organization, you need not reserve a name separately.
2 - 3 days
Every LLC needs to be identified with a designator. Must contain the term "company", "limited", or "limited liability company" or an abbreviation of one of those terms, or words or abbreviations of like import.
Make sure you follow LLC naming guidelines specified by Pennsylvania state as per Pennsylvania Code Title 2 §204. This includes not using names similar to existing companies, etc.
2. Get a mailing address
If you have an office or factory in Pennsylvania, you can use that as your official company address. Note that this address will be made public. You can even use your home address as your official company address. But that may not give you privacy.
Alternatively, pick a virtual office address. This way, you pay a company for a street address and they handle all your mailing. You can then give this address to the state.
3. Hire a registered agent
Every Pennsylvania LLC requires a registered agent in the state. If you are a resident of Pennsylvania, you can be the registered agent for your LLC. However, your details will be made public and you must be available during all business hours to receive service of process.
Alternatively, there are companies that provide registered agent services for a fee. Pay for their service and you get to keep your privacy and ability to freely move around without worrying about compliance.
4. File Certificate of Organization
Once you have a registered agent and an official office address, you can go ahead with filing your Certificate of Organization. You can file it online on Pennsylvania PENN You can file website.
2 - 3 days
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105
5. Create an Operating Agreement
Operating agreements are not mandatory in Pennsylvania, but it is highly recommended. There are websites where you can customize operating agreements to your needs. Create and get it signed by your LLC members.
6. Get Employer Identification Number (EIN)
EIN is used by IRS to identify business entities. You create an EIN for free at IRS website.
7. Open a business bank account
It is important to separate your business and personal transactions. There are several ways to create business bank accounts. You can definitely open business checking accounts at traditional banks like Chase, Wells Fargo, etc. There are several other modern banking solutions that offer plenty of benefits to entrepreneurs.
Every LLC should have a unique name in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania maintains a list of names of entities in the state. Go through it to check if your chosen name is available.
Search for names
Go to the official website of the Pennsylvania business entity search tool to see if the name you want is available.
You can reserve a name for your LLC for a specific duration by paying reservation fees to the Pennsylvania bureau of corporations and charitable organizations. You will have to file your LLC formation documents within this period to keep the name. Alternatively, you can directly go ahead with the LLC formation without any reservation. That's fine too.
LLC naming guidelines
The name you choose for your LLC must the official naming guidelines.
Pennsylvania Code Title 2 §204
Here are some of the guidelines in simple language:
Must contain the term "company", "limited", or "limited liability company" or an abbreviation of one of those terms, or words or abbreviations of like import.
Don’t include terms that indicate that you are doing an activity that you are not authorised to do.
Your name should be ‘distinguishable’ in the Secretary of State records. Adding a punctuation or ‘the’ does not make it distinguishable.
Don’t use words that makes it seems like you are a governmental entity or has an affiliation.
Operating agreement is an internal business document that outlines the general rules and policies of the LLC.
It is not a legally mandatory document. However, it is recommended to have one since many courts, banks and financial institutions use it for verification. It is also nice to clearly outline the duties and relations between multiple members of an LLC—so you avoid any confusion in the future.
There is no ‘required’ format for an operating agreement. You can include anything reasonable in it. In general, it has the following sections:
Basic Business information
Contains name, address, names and details of members, purpose
Contains membership interest, decision making process, powers, duties.
Contains details on how to add or remove members and managers.
Accounting and tax
Contains details on how company records and distributions are maintained.
How to dissolve, wind up and terminate, due process to follow and exceptions.
Frequently asked questions
Business in Pennsylvania
Knowing the entity names that are available in Pennsylvania helps you run your business better. Read our guides to learn how to get started with these entities in Pennsylvania.