Verify Your Business Name With an Iowa Business Name Search

Complete an Iowa business entity search to confirm the availability of your desired business name. This step is crucial to your incorporation process.
Iowa Skyline Statue

Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Catherine Cohen
Written by Catherine Cohen
Written byCatherine Cohen
Updated December 05, 2023
Edited by Zachary Ace Aiuppa
Share this guide

You have a great idea for a business, and you even have an entity name in mind. The name pops up, and you’re almost ready to set up your limited liability company (LLC) with the Iowa Secretary of State. Before you do, a crucial step is to conduct an Iowa business name search.

Swyft Filings offers a free advanced search to help you discover if you’ve chosen a unique name for your LLC. It’s quick and straightforward thanks to our three-step process:

  1. Answer a few questions about yourself and your business name.

  2. Wait an hour while we conduct a company name search for you (we’ll email the results to you).

  3. Get your results and decide if you can proceed with our other business services.

Free Iowa Business Name Search

See if your company name is available in Iowa with our free business name search service. There is no cost or commitment on your part. We will email you within 1 hour to let you know if your name is available Alaska and how to reserve it today.

You may wonder why running this type of search for your small business is essential. This article explains the benefits, which range from choosing an appropriate business name to ensuring you can reserve that name if it’s available.

Key Takeaways

  • Iowa has several restrictions regarding words you can’t use in your business name.

  • You can reserve an Iowa business name for 120 days for just $10.

  • The name you choose for your Iowa LLC has to be distinguishable.

  • You can file business formation documents in Iowa via mail or using the “Fast Track Filing” tool.

Iowa’s Business Name Conventions

Any Iowa LLC or Iowa corporation needs to select a business name under which it operates via its formation documents. However, you can’t select any old name for your new business. There are rules to follow (which the Iowa Secretary of State enforces) if you wish to choose a name for your business entity.[1]

Rule 1 — Abide by the state’s restrictions

Let’s start with names you can’t use.

No business name in Iowa can contain language that may lead to people confusing that name with a government agency. For example, you can’t name a company “FBI Bar and Grill” because that name has an apparent association with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Similarly, there are some restricted terms to consider, such as “attorney” and “bank.” These terms aren’t necessarily banned from use. However, you need to demonstrate that your company can use these terms, which often means completing additional paperwork and having an appropriately licensed individual working there.

The obvious example is that you can’t use the name “Iowa Accident Attorney” if you don’t have a licensed attorney as an employee.

Rule 2 — Ensure your name is unique

The name you choose for your new business has to be unique from any other name, with the state using the term “distinguishable” to define this uniqueness. The good news is that you don’t need to make wholesale changes to a name if it already exists. Iowa considers a name distinguishable if it contains one or more different letters.

For instance, let’s say you want to form a business called “Ann’s Real Estate.” A name check may reveal that name already exists. However, you could use “Anne’s Real Estate” or “Anna’s Real Estate” without problems.

However, this approach has some restrictions, most of which come down to abbreviations used in business names.

Using the above example, you may see that “Ann’s Real Estate LLC” already exists and think you can be distinguishable by naming your company “Ann’s Real Estate Limited Liability Company.” That’s not the case. A business entity-related suffix change doesn’t make your name unique.

Finally, it’s worth considering your options if your research into business information reveals that a company that uses your desired name is now defunct. Under Iowa law, the company’s name isn’t publicly available for five years after it stops operating. You’ll need to check when the organization went out of business before moving forward.[1]

The Iowa Secretary of State may have several types of names on file that it doesn’t consider when determining if your name is distinguishable. These include the following:[1]

  • Fictitious names (often called “doing business” as (DBA) names)

  • Any names of corporations that have had their Certificates of Incorporation revoked

  • Expired name reservations and registrations

  • The names of any corporations that no longer have certificates of authority

These unconsidered names give you some leeway, as you may be able to use a name that already exists in state records, assuming it’s one of the types of names that the Secretary of State doesn’t consider.

You can make the process of checking available corporate names simple using the Swyft Filings business name search tool. It’s free and easy to use, with results delivered to your email in an hour or less.

Choosing your LLC name is a crucial part of forming your business, especially as you need to consider your entity type and the available names when making your decision. If you’re wondering why an Iowa business entity search is a good idea, there are three primary benefits to checking that your business name is available.

Benefit 1 — Save money

Many entrepreneurs don’t have the money to waste on repeated filings. Every time you file your Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation without running a business name search, you risk spending more than necessary if your filing gets rejected.

An advanced search of Iowa’s existing companies quickly tells you if the name is available, saving you from spending money on filing formation documents that will receive immediate rejection due to your name.

Benefit 2 — Meet Iowa’s name requirements

Beyond being distinguishable, your business name needs to meet specific requirements related to terminology, such as not using the term “bank” unless you have the appropriate business license.

With an advanced search tool, you don’t just see if your business entity name is available. You’ll also get information about whether you can use the name based on other restrictions and details about any licenses you need to hold if you want to use restricted terminology.

Benefit 3 — Get back precious time

When running a business name search, you don’t already need a business number to use these tools. You can partake in this search before spending all your time filling out incorporation paperwork. This will save you time by avoiding multiple filing attempts. 

Whether you use Iowa’s Business Entities Search (available via the website[2]) or Swyft Filings free tool, your search is quick, easy, and costs zero dollars.

Tall clock tower in Iowa fall | Swyft Filings

Next Steps

Once you’ve found an available business name for your LLC (thanks to an entity search), there are a few more steps to secure that name and prepare to file formation documents for your Iowa business.

Complete Your Name Reservation

Once you have your desired LLC name, it’s a good idea to reserve that name to give yourself time to set up other aspects of your company. This isn’t a legal requirement. The state of Iowa doesn’t force you to reserve your business name before you formally claim it.

However, it’s a good idea because somebody else could claim (or reserve) the name before you file your formation documents. Furthermore, it’s not a costly process, with filing fees of only $10.[3] Once approved, your name reservation lasts 120 days.

There are two ways to submit a name reservation:

  • File a physical form.

  • Apply for the reservation online.

Filing a physical form

You can download and print the Application for Reservation of Name form from the Iowa Secretary of State website.[4] The form asks for basic details, such as the type of business you wish to form, the name you want to reserve, and your personal address.

Once completed, submit the form (along with a check for the $10 filing fee) to the following address:

Secretary of State

Business Services Division

Lucas Building, 1st Floor

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Reserve your business name online

You can also file for a name reservation using Iowa’s “Fast Track Filing” website, which is also helpful in filing your formation documents. Follow these steps:

  1. Head to and create an account.

  2. Click “Business Filings” in the navigation bar and select “File a Document.”

  3. Select “Application for Reservation of Name” and complete the online form.

  4. Electronically sign the form and press the “Review and Pay” button. Here, you can check your entered details and choose a payment method.

  5. Select “Submit to File.” You should see the message “Filing Submission Status: Success” if the form goes through.

Once you’ve completed the submission, you can check your application’s status via your Fast Track Filing dashboard, accessible via the “Business Filings” section of the website.

Choose a Domain Name

You’ve completed an Iowa entity search and have a successful name reservation that grants you 120 days to form your business. Next, it’s time to move on to setting up some of the basics your LLC will need to compete with other companies - namely, a website.

All website development projects start with a domain name, the URL people type into their web browsers to access your site. Ideally, your domain name will match your Iowa business name (i.e., “Ann’s Real Estate” becomes “”).

Squarespace’s easy-to-use domain search tool can help you quickly find and register a domain name that matches your Iowa business. You can then choose from Squarespace’s flexible website templates, pre-designed layouts, and curated design elements to build a website — no coding required. Start your business with Swyft Filings and receive a free domain from SquareSpace for one year.

Domain name registration usually involves paying a fee to use the name for a certain number of years. You must stay on top of this time limitation to ensure your domain name doesn’t expire.

Consider a DBA

A DBA (doing business as), also known as a “Fictitious Name” in Iowa, is like a pseudonym for your business. It’s a name you might use in your branding materials or signage that belongs to your company but isn’t your official business name.

You can file to get a fictitious name for the following types of business entities:

  • Limited liability companies

  • For-profit and non-profit corporations

  • Limited partnerships

  • Cooperative Associations

  • Professional corporations and LLCs

You can complete the application via the Fast Track Filing website (you’ll need to create an account before you start), and filing fees are just $5.[5]

Think of a DBA as a trade name that you can operate under, even if that name matches the official business name of another Iowa company. Remember — the state doesn’t consider fictitious names when determining if a business name is distinguishable.

File Your LLC Online

You’ve run an Iowa entity search for your business name, and the search page tells you you can proceed with the name for your LLC. Reserve that name as fast as you can (along with domain names and DBAs) before forming the business itself.

Then let Swyft Filings take over. Our LLC formation service helps you to handle formation document filing for your Iowa LLC, with costs starting from $0 plus state fees. We’ve helped over 300,000 companies with their filing needs, handling everything from business formation to name changes, and we’re ready to help you.

Free Business Name Search

Enter your desired Iowa company name to see if it is available with our free business name search.


How do I find out if a business name is available in Iowa?

You can find if a business name is available using Iowa’s Business Entities search tool or Swyft Filings’ free business name search tool.

How do I find a business entity in Iowa?

The Iowa Business Entities Search tool helps find a company if you know its name or business number. The tool also provides basic details about each company, such as its entity type.

You don’t have to pay any money to complete an Iowa business entity search.

Business entity searches can reveal details about existing businesses and tell you if the name you want for your company is available for use.

The Minority Business Development Agency says 272,610 organizations were operating in Iowa as of 2018.[6]

What are the steps to forming a business in Iowa?

The main steps for forming an Iowa business are coming up with a name, selecting a registered agent, and filing formation documents with the Iowa Secretary of State.


  1. Iowa Secretary of State. “Understanding Name Availability in Iowa.” Accessed May 16, 2023.

  2. Iowa Secretary of State. “Business Entities Search.” Accessed May 16, 2023.

  3. Iowa Secretary of State. “Business Entity Forms and Fees.” Accessed May 16, 2023.

  4. Iowa Secretary of State. “Application for Reservation of Name.” Accessed May 16, 2023.

  5. Official State of Iowa Website. “How Do I File a Fictitious Name (“Doing Business As” name, or “DBA”)?” Accessed May 16, 2023.

  6. Minority Business Development Agency. “The State of Minority Business: Iowa.” Accessed May 16, 2023.

Originally published on July 12, 2023, and last edited on December 05, 2023.
business types

Learn more about each type of business

No matter the business type, Swyft Filings can help you form your new company.