How Do I Change My Business Name?

What to Do Before and After Changing Your Business Name

changing business, making business changes
Steven Puetzer/Getty Images

Changing your business name is a big step. Your business identity depends on your business name, so consider carefully before you decide to make that change. The legal change of business name is only one part of the process. The other part is going through all the places where your business name is displayed to the public and making those changes. 

Before you change your business name

  • Check to see if the domain name of your new business name is available
  • Check the availability of that name with your state and with the federal trademark office. You might not want to trademark your new business name now, but you may want to do that in the future.
  • You should also discuss a possible business name change with your attorney and tax advisor, to be aware of any possible issues with making this change.

Change legal documents having your business name

When you change your business name, you may have to change legal documents, including contracts, loans, and your business checking account (and checks).

You may have to change local business licenses and permits and you will probably need a new "doing business as" or business trade name notification with your county.

Business contracts and agreements may need to be changed, including employment contracts, sales and distributor agreements, and contracts with customers. 

Notify your state of your business name change

For all business types except a sole proprietorship, you should first notify your state, according to the procedure set out by the secretary of state for your state.

Sole proprietor businesses do not have to file with a state, but you still should notify your state's taxing entity of the new name, for income tax filing purposes.

You should also notify your state taxing entity of your new business name for sales tax purposes.

Notify the IRS of your business name change

How to notify the IRS depends on your business legal type: 

  • If you are a sole proprietorship, write the IRS and let them know of your name change. Use the address where you mailed your tax return (your 1040).
     
  • If you own a corporation, (including an S corporation) you can change your name when you file your tax return (on Form 1120), or you can write to the IRS at the address where you mailed your tax return. Also be sure to notify the secretary of state for your state about your corporation's name change. A corporation officer must sign the notice.
     
  • If your business is a partnership, notify the IRS about the name change when you file your partnership information return on Form 1065, or you can write to the IRS, including a notification form signed by a partner.
     
  • If your business is a limited liability company (LLC), follow the sole proprietorship process above if you are a single-member LLC and the partnership process above if you are a multiple-member LLC.

Read more about changing your business name on the IRS business name change webpage.

 After you change your business name

Changing your name is an expensive process. Here are some things you will have to change, all of which cost lots of money:

  • Stationery
  • Business cards
  • Brochures, catalogs, and other company literature
  • Advertisements and promotional materials
  • Interior and exterior signs
  • Your website
  • And lots more.