Virginia Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
If you are in the process of starting a Virginia-based business, you’ll need to perform a business entity search first. The business search allows you to determine if the name you are considering is indeed available for business registration.
The search tool also allows you to browse through various details pertaining to business, all of which are public records. You’re also able to search entities using their name or entity ID number.
Additionally, there’s an advanced search option that helps to further narrow down or refine your search.
The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a Virginia business entity search.
Virginia search tips
Make use of these tips when conducting your Virginia business information search:
- Feel free to use both upper and lowercase letters when searching as the search is not case-sensitive.
- Using spaces, punctuation marks, and special characters will also not affect the search results, so if the name does contain any of these, feel free to include them.
- Entering the entire name of a business entity if it contains multiple words will narrow down your search results.
- Entering just the first one or two words of the business name will broaden your search results.
The Virginia business information search tool allows you to narrow down your options by selecting one of the following:
- Starts with
- Exact match
Business search by name
To begin your business search, refer to the State Corporation Commission Clerk’s Information System.
Enter the business name
Enter the name of the entity into the relevant search bar or next to “Entity Name.”
Refine your search by selecting either, Starts with, Contains, or Exact match.
Hit enter on your keyboard.
Review the results
If there are more than 500 results, you’ll see a message that states, “Your search criteria returned an X amount of results which is more than 500 results. Click “OK” to display all records or click “Cance” to display the first 500 records only.”
Depending on which option you select, you’ll have access to the relevant number of matching entries. Here you’ll be able to view:
- Entity ID
- Entity name
- Name type
- Entity type
- Series LLC
- Principal office address
- Registered agent name
Review additional business information
If you need access to further details pertaining to any specific entity, simply click on the entity ID number, which will take you to the entity information page.
Here, you will be able to access a number of details, including detailed entity information, registered agent information, and principal office address.
Additional search options
While still on the same page, you’ll have access to additional search options or search types. This includes such by:
- Entity ID
- Principal Name
- Registered Agent Name
- Filing Number
With the rest of these options, you’ll need to enter the specific or relevant information.
However, while the process of entering the information remains the same, with the entity ID and filing number options, it should only return one result if you entered the correct numbers.
The principal name and registered agent name options likewise should return not more than a handful of search results.
You’ll have access to all of the same information you did when searching businesses by entity name.
Virginia search results
Irrespective of the search criteria or search type used, you will be able to view the following information:
- Entity ID
- Entity name
- Name type
- Entity type
- Series LLC
- Principal office address
- Registered agent name
- Formation date
- VA qualification date
- Registration date due date
- Reason for status
- Annual report due date
- Charter fee
- Registered agent’s type, RA qualification, name, locality, and Registered Office address
- Additionally, at the bottom of the business summary page, you’ll find a few tabs to access:
- Filing history
- RA history
- Name history
- Previous registrations
- Protected series
- Garnishment designees
- Image request
Copies of documents and certificates
After completing your Virginia entity name search, you may want to obtain copies of business documents. Some of the instances where certified copies of business documents will come in handy when you need to:
- Submit tax filings
- Facilitate business registration
- Apply for bank loans
- Replace original business documents
To fulfill any of the above-mentioned tasks, certified copies are necessary. Plain copies, while they are copies of business documents that the state has on file, do not come with a certificate or seal from the clerk’s office.
Therefore, the difference between a plain copy and a certified copy is that a plain copy is simply a photocopy of the document on file with the state, while a certified copy serves as evidence that the copies are true and correct.
The clerk’s office will fulfill requests for both plain and certified copies of business documents. Additionally, some of the most frequently issued documents include:
- Certificates of Good Standing
- Certificates to adjust property titled records in circuit courts
- Certificates of Fact
Please take note of the following business documents that may be downloaded using the Clerk’s Information System online and immediately:
- Certificate of Good Standing (Corporations)
- Certificate of Fact of Existence/Registration (LLCs)
- Certificate of Fact of Existence for VA and Foreign Limited Partnerships
The cost of each certificate is $6 when downloaded from the Clerk’s Information System.
Plain copies that are filed in the clerk’s office are available through the Clerk’s Information System portal free of charge. For more information on how to go about downloading images of business documents, follow this guide.
To obtain certified copies of business documents filed in the clerk’s office, you’ll need to pay the $6 filing fee per document.
There is no additional cost when requesting through the CIS platform. In the event that images are available, then the certified images are processed in real-time.
However, if images need to be retrieved by staff, then your request will need more time to be processed, and the documents will be sent to you via email.
Business name availability
The Virginia name availability search option will give you an indication of whether or not your selected company name is available for business filing. However, it’s also important to note that even if the name is available at that point in time, there is no guarantee that it will be available at the time of business registration.
That said, it’s highly recommended that you reserve the name if you plan on registering your business in the near future.
The Virginia Name Reservation Application Form may be acquired from the State Corporation Commission. When completing the form, you’ll need to include some pertinent information like:
- Is this a renewal of a name reservation or a new request for a name reservation?
- The name you want to be reserved
- The printed name and address of the applicant
- The signature of the applicant or the business’s registered agent’s signature
After completing the application, go ahead and mail it along with a $10 check made payable to the State Corporation Commission to:
State Corporation Commission
PO Box 1197 Richmond
A name reserved in Virginia will be kept aside for 120 days. Thereafter, if you haven’t initiated the business filings, you may submit a renewal request to reserve the name for another 120 days.
It’s also advisable that you conduct a trademark search prior to reserving the name to make sure that it hasn’t been trademarked by another entity either in the state of Virginia or nationally. Conduct the trademark search with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Thereafter, also consider that Virginia does have business naming rules like every other state.
Some of them are as follows:
- Include a designation such as company, limited, corporation, etc., or an abbreviation of these terms.
- Do not include words or terms that may imply or suggest that your company conducts business as a trust company, bank, insurance company, etc.
- Do not include words or abbreviations that imply that your corporation is a limited partnership or limited liability company.
- Ensure that the name is unique and not too similar to existing businesses in the state or existing reserved names in the state.
- If your business is engaged in the loan, banking, building, and loan, insurance industries, etc., then your business name cannot include the words: national, federal, reserve, or United States.
For a comprehensive list of naming rules in the state of Virginia, refer to the Virginia state statutes.
Domain name availability
After finding and securing the ideal name for your business, there’s still another step to the process. You also need to decide on and secure a suitable domain name for your business. This is because domain names are increasingly popular as more business owners embrace the Internet age.
Therefore, finding a domain name that is catchy and easy to remember can prove to be priceless in terms of bringing customers to your website for years to come.
If you’re not sure of how to choose an ideal domain name for your business, make use of the following tips:
- Chose a name that reflects your company’s identity, values, and what your brand promises to deliver.
- Ensure that the domain name is between six to ten letters, with eight being the ideal length.
- Keep your domain name short, simple, and easy to pronounce and remember.
While the process may seem daunting, once you’ve chosen a strong domain name, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:
- Your business will come across as a forward-thinking and tech-savvy brand.
- When combined with a professional website, it will help to market your services and products the world over.
- A strong domain name helps to increase your search engine rankings.
- A professional name provides visibility for your brand.
- A unique and strong domain name brings credibility to your business and separates you from the millions of other websites on the internet.
If you’re not sure about which direction to go, or you feel that all of the names you are considering are already taken, you should make use of a professional service called Namechk.com.
Namechk.com is a domain checking service that helps to filter your options and gives you suggestions in the event that another entity has taken your proposed domain name.
Additionally, Namechk.com checks your domain name against over 100 social media networks.
Fictitious business name search
If you intend on transacting or doing business under any other name aside from your business entity name, then you need to register a fictitious name in the state. Fictitious names are also referred to as trade, assumed, or DBA names.
If you’d like to go ahead and file a fictitious name application in the state of Virginia, you’ll need to fulfill the following requirements:
- Submit a paper form or use the online services to file the assumed name.
- There’s a $10 filing fee that must be paid
- Select the relevant form:
- If you are transacting as an individual, make use of this form: Certificate of Assumed – for businesses operated by Individuals.
- If you have a business on the records of the Commission, make use of the below form: Certificate of Assumed – for business operated by an Entity
The filing fee for a Certificate of Assumed name is $10.
After completing the relevant information and submitting the Certificate of Assumed Name, you’ll receive an Assumed Name Certificate.
Additionally, you are entitled to ask for a Certified copy of the Fictitious Name using the state’s online services, also known as the Clerk’s Information System. The is a filing fee of $6 for the certificate.
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Does Virginia have a Secretary of State?
Like every other state, Virginia does have a Secretary of State’s office; however, in this state, it is more commonly referred to as the Secretary of the Commonwealth. This agency fulfills all the requirements that the Secretary of State’s office fulfills in other states.
Is a limited liability partnership really better than a limited liability company?
It all depends on your goals. LLCs have only one member, while LLPs are required to have a minimum of two partners. However, LLPs experience significant tax advantages over LLCs. However, a disadvantage of LLPs is public discourse, meaning financial accounts must be submitted to the Companies House for the public record.
What are the different types of corporations?
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