How to search for available business names
This informational guide has been created to assist you in searching the Secretary of State's Corporations (Business Entity) database. The entity names used as examples are not necessarily in our records, but used only as possible search terms or results.
Formatting and indexing
The following rules are applied when the names are stored. When searching the database, you should keep these rules in mind and use them as a guideline(s) for your search criteria.
- Remove all occurrences of double quotes ("), commas (,), pound signs (#), Parentheses (()), and periods (.).
- Remove any hyphens (-) and concatenate (world-wide becomes worldwide).
- Remove "the" when it is the first word.
- Consecutive single characters followed by a space, or punctuation are concatenated into one word and should be searched that way (G.P.R. FOUNDATION becomes GPR FOUNDATION)
- Two (2) or more characters preceded or followed by a period, the period will be replaced with a space (corp.com becomes corp com)
Use of these stripped words, symbols and characters in your search will give you inaccurate results.
If you are looking for B-B CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, LLC., type BB CONSTRUCTION. The search will also find variations such as:
- THE B & B CONSTRUCTION, INC.,
- B.B. CONSTRUCTION, LTD. and
- B B CONSTRUCTION.
The search results show the entire name as entered on the records even though the names are stored in a formatted system.
The database uses an indexing system for several commonly used words, symbols and punctuation marks referred to as "stop words". Stop words are not indexed in the search tool. This means that the system acts as if these words are stripped out and can't be used in the search. Such words as "corporation"; "but"; "company" and "limited" are included. There following is a complete list of stop words.
|LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
|REGISTERED LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP
REGISTERED PARTNERSHIP HAVING LIMITED LIABILITY
LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP
Stop word symbols include:
Plus sign +
Forward slash /
Quotation mark "
Wild Cards allow for broader search results. Use the percent sign (%) as a "wild card' character. It can be used for Name Availability searches or whenever you are unsure of the exact name of the business entity you are searching for.
If you were searching for a business entity that you believed has the word "COLUMBUS" and some variation of "CONTRACT" such as "CONTRACTOR", "CONTRACTORS" or "CONTRACTING" type and enter COLUMBUS CONTRACT%
The search will find all business entities in the records that contain COLUMBUS and the next significant word that started with CONTRACT.
Another wild card is the underscore (_) character when used within a word. The underscore character will match any single character that you enter it for. For example "c_t" will return names containing "cat" and "cut".
Boolean or logical operators - Boolean or logical operators are used to allow you to enter several words in a search. These words or symbols can be entered into the Business Name field between the words that you enter for your search. These operators are:
- AND (&) - Retrieves records in which all the entered words are present. The system considers the query "dog and cat" the same as "dog & cat". This query returns names that contain both the words "dog" and "cat" regardless of their order within the name.
- OR (|) - Retrieves records in which at least one of the entered words is present. The query "dog or cat" or "dog | cat" returns all names that contain only the word "dog", only the word "cat" or both words "dog" and "cat" in the name.
- NOT (~) Retrieves records where only the first word of the term entered is present. The query "dog not cat" or "dog ~ cat" would return all names which have the word "dog" except those that also have the word "cat".
Name availability search hints
- Leave out punctuation marks, symbols (such as the ampersand &) and entity designations such as "INC", "LIMITED", and "ASSOCIATION".
For example, if you were checking for the availability of "THE B&B CONSTRUCTION, INCORPORATED" the search term to enter is "BB CONSTRUCTION" or even "BB CONSTRUCT%".
- Use the wild card (%) in order to find variations in tenses or plurals. Using "ADVANC% SECURIT%" as a search term would find variations such as ADVANCED SECURITY or ADVANCE SECURITIES that could conflict with the name you are checking.
- If two of the words in the name can be used as a single word, you should conduct two (2) searches entering the name as two words and as one word to ensure the name doesn't already exist.
For example, LIGHT HOUSE RESTAURANT should be searched as LIGHTHOUSE RESTAURANT and LIGHT HOUSE RESTAURANT.
This data is provided for informational purposes only. Any certification of authenticity of this information must be provided by the Business Services Division of the Ohio Secretary of State. The information that you are searching is only for those filings that have been submitted and approved by the Ohio Secretary of State. These inquiries do not search on filings that are currently being processed.