Maryland Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated: June 19th, 2024
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If you’re planning on starting a business in the state of Maryland, then you’ll need to conduct a name search first.

The Maryland business entity search tool will help determine whether your desired name is available for use or has already been taken by another entity in the state. This will save you lots of time when it comes to finalizing your business registration.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a Maryland business entity search.

Maryland search tips

When searching for a business in Maryland, the following tips will help get the best results:

  • Uppercase and lowercase are irrelevant, and it doesn’t matter which case you use because it doesn’t affect the search results.
  • Even if the business name contains punctuation marks and special characters, there’s no need to enter them as punctuation marks are not considered during the search.
  • For the broadest results, try entering just the first one or two words of a business name, even if the name contains multiple words.

The Maryland Business Express website allows you to search for registered businesses via the following search types or search criteria:

  • Entity name
  • Department ID

Business search by entity name

Refer to the Maryland Business Express Entity Search page to begin searching for registered businesses in the state.

1
Enter the business entity name

Select the business name option and enter the name of the entity you are searching for.

Then click on the “Search” button.

2
Review the results

If the name you’ve entered is similar to other registered businesses in Maryland, it will be displayed on this page.

The number of matching results will be displayed at the top of the table, and then all similar names will be found listed one below the other.

The information you’ll have access to on this page is the Department ID number, business name, and status.

3
Review additional business information

To access further details pertaining to the business, simply click on the entity name, and it will take you to the business summary page.

The information that is displayed on this page includes general information; the business’s filing history as well as annual report and personal property details.

Business search by department ID

While on the same page, select the “Search by Department ID” option.

1
Enter the department ID number

Enter the department ID number into the search bar and click search.

2
Review the results

In this case, when using the search by department ID number option, there should only be one entry that comes up. This is primarily because every business has a unique department ID.

3
Review additional business information

As with the business search by entity name, simply click on the name of the business to access more information about it. You’ll be able to view all of the same information you did when you searched using the entity name.

Maryland search results

When you click on the name of the entity, it will take you to the business summary page that will display the following information:

  • Department ID number
  • Business name
  • Principal Office
  • Registered agent or service of process agent name and address
  • Entity status
  • Business Type
  • Business code
  • Date of registration/formation
  • State of Formation
  • Stock status (if applicable)
  • Filing history information
  • Annual report information
  • Personal property details

On this page, you’ll also see a tab that says, ” Options for this Business.”

When you select the drop-down menu, you may perform a number of actions, including:

  • File an annual report
  • Apply for trade name
  • Order documents
  • File Certificate of Correction

When you scroll down to the last option, it says, “More options.” A notice pops up stating that you may refer to the Forms and Applications page of the Department of Assessments and Taxation website.

Copies of documents and certificates

After conducting the name search on the Maryland Business Express website, you may want to order copies of business documents. Most documents may be viewed for free by the public online through the Business Entity Search page.

However, if you require certified copies of these business documents for whatever reason, such as opening a bank account, then you should follow these steps:

  • Refer to the Business Entity Search
  • Enter an entity name or department ID number of the company you’re looking up
  • Click on the name of the company you want more details on
  • Click on “Filing History” to view the available business documents, which are viewable in PDF.
  • Click on the icon that looks like an “eye” to view the relevant document. If you see an icon that looks like an “eye” with a line through it, it simply means that the document cannot be sent electronically and has to be sent via mail
  • If you’d like to order copies, click on the “Order Documents” button located at the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

In the event that you want to get a license, license renewal, business loan, etc, you may need a Certificate of Status. The certificate is also referred to as a Certificate of Good Standing and is issued by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The Secretary of State issues a certificate verifying that a business entity is in good standing on the same date and exact time of the request. The department issues a certificate confirming that a company is in good standing, and this confirms that all fees and documents requested by law have been sent to the department and have been received in order.

It also verifies that no other government agency has notified the department that the company is not in compliance.

You may order a Certificate of Status online by visiting the Maryland Business Express website and selecting, Certificate of Status. Additionally, you can also verify the authenticity of certificates online.

A few key points to note are that certificates are not available for organizations that do not have a service of process agent, have not submitted their annual reports and tax returns, and have penalties that are outstanding.

Additionally, certificates are not available for:

  • Special entities like public utilities.
  • Government entities
  • Sole Proprietorships
  • Trade Names
  • Name reservations

Business name availability

Conducting a Maryland business entity search is a good way to find out whether your preferred name is available for use. However, the Business Entity Search page will also give you insight into how many similar names are already registered in the state and you can use the search results to get creative and come up with unique indistinguishable names for your business.

Even if the name does not appear in search results, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be available at the time of registration. Therefore, the only way of knowing whether or not you’ll be able to claim that name for your business is after initiating the business registration process.

Ultimately it is the Department of State that will determine whether or not you can form your business under that name.

So if you’ve found the ideal name but you’re not ready to begin the formation process, you should consider a name reservation. Irrespective of your business structure, you’ll need to file the Corporate Name Reservation Application with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The application form needs to include some pertinent information including:

  • Name to be reserved
  • Name and address of the applicant
  • Application date
  • Signature of applicant

In addition to submitting the application form, you’ll need to include a check for $25. If you’d like the expedited service then you’ll need to pay an additional $20 fee.

You may submit the form online or have it mailed to the following address:

State Department of Assessments and Taxation Charter Division
301 W. Preston Street
8th Floor Baltimore
MD 21201-2395

The name reservation application will reserve your name for approximately 30 days. If you’re still not ready to form your business, then you can extend the name reservation by filing the Corporate Name Reservation Application for Re-reservation. The renewal comes with a $25 processing fee.

Domain name availability

A domain name is just as important as a legal entity name. While it is often overlooked, it is imperative when it comes to marketing your business and also establishing your company’s brand.

However, finding the ideal domain name or securing your preferred domain name can be challenging since there are billions of registered domains online.

When deciding on the ideal domain name, keep the following in mind:

  • Find out if the domain name has already been trademarked
  • Think of domain name that will be in use over a long time
  • Use a domain name that reflects your company’s brand
  • Avoid the use of hyphens and numbers
  • Ensure that the name can be pronounced and typed out easily
  • Always opt for shorter domain names as opposed to longer, more complicated ones
  • Try to make use of popular extensions such as .net,.org,.com, etc.

Namechk.com is a professional domain checking service that allows you to check the availability of a domain name or username within seconds.

Domain names can only be used by one person or company at a time, so it can be hard to come up with a domain name that suits your brand and is also available.

How Namechck.com works is that it allows you to check several name ideas by entering each one into the relevant search bar. It then checks the availability of the domain name against dozens of social channels and online platforms.

Fictitious business name search

If you’d like to transact under a different name from your legal entity name, then you’re welcome to register a trade name in the state. Trade names should be unique and significantly different from other registered trade names in the state.

The first step involves referring to the Maryland.gov or Maryland Business Expense website and searching for your preferred trade name to ensure that it isn’t already taken.

Once you’ve determined that the name is indeed available for use, consider state naming requirements. 

Your trade name should not include:

  • A suffix such as LLC, Inc, Corp, etc
  • Words that may confuse your company with a government agency
  • Any terms that may confuse your company with a financial institution

To go ahead and file your DBA name or fictitious name in Maryland, refer to the Business Express website and complete the Trade Name Application Form. After completing the form, you may submit it online or via mail to:

Filing address:
Charter Division
Department of Assessments and Taxation
301 W. Preston Street, Room 801
Baltimore, MD 21201

FAQs

What is the main difference between for-profit corporations and nonprofits?

For-profits are formed to fulfill the owners’ or members’ organizational objectives, which is usually to make a profit. Nonprofits, on the other hand, are formed to benefit the public or for the greater good of the public.

How do I obtain a Certificate of good standing?

You may request a Certificate of Good Standing directly from the business services or business filings department of the Secretary of State. A business is in good standing when they have paid the relevant state taxes and fees, filed the necessary reports, and has generally conducted business by the book.

Is a limited liability partnership a general partnership?

A limited liability partnership is a type of general partnership. Each partner has unlimited personal liability for the debts of the partnership. However, they will not be liable for the dishonest or illegal damages caused by other partners and only the state-dependent contractual debts.

What are the advantages of a limited liability company?

Starting a limited liability company comes with various advantages, such as limited liability, management flexibility, and federal pass-through taxation on profits. Limited liability owners are also not required to pay unemployment insurance taxes on their own salaries.

Is a federal tax lien legal?

A federal tax lien presents itself when you fail to pay taxes after the government makes a demand for payment. Therefore, a tax lien is basically a legal claim against the assets of a business or natural person who fails to pay what is owed to the government. In this case, assets may be seized in the form of a person’s personal property, etc.

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