How to Change My Company Name

Companies sometimes use clever names to attract potential customers to the products or services they provide. For any number of reasons, you may decide it's time to change the name of your company. This can be as simple as doing business under another name or as involved as changing the structure of your company.

Instructions

    • 1

      Decide if you're going to change the legal name. Assuming the decision to change the name has been reached and approved in accordance with the company's internal rules of operation or by-laws, it's important to distinguish whether the change will be merely the assumption of a new name or a change in the legal name that's recorded with the state and Internal Revenue Service.

    • 2

      Register the new name with your local government with a DBA (doing business as) statement if the structure of the organization is not going to change significantly (see Resources section). While the business might give no outward sign of its legal name, doing business under another name does not change the name used by the company on tax returns or other legal documents. If marketing is the primary reason for the name change, a DBA is probably the best option.

    • 3

      Amend the corporate charter if you are changing the legal name or corporate structure of your company. (This is not required if you are merely filing a DBA statement.) Keep in mind that the legal name of a business usually must indicate its organizational structure by the inclusion of the word or abbreviation for "corporation," "limited liability company" or "partnership."

    • 4

      Inform the IRS if you change the legal name of your company. (This is not required if you are merely filing a DBA statement.) You must send a letter to the IRS processing center where you file your corporate returns with a statement of name change signed by a corporate officer. With your next tax filing, you must check Box 3 on Line E of Form 1120 (or Box 2 on Line H of Form 1120S) to show that the name has changed since the previous filing.

    • 5

      Obtain a new EIN (employer identification number) if the name change reflects a change in the company's organization--say, from a sole proprietorship to an LLC or corporation--or if the name change involves starting a new company and transferring assets from an old one. (This is not required if your merely filing a DBA statement.)

Tips & Warnings

  • Research available corporate names through your Secretary of State's website before changing the name of your business.
  • If a name is already taken in your state and is actively being used, it may be illegal for you to use it.
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References

Resources

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