Do I need "LLC" in my business name?

Do I need LLC as part of my business name?

Yes, in Iowa and most states, you must have some variation of LLC as part of your legal name. It does not have to be exactly “LLC,” but you probably should because people are used to it and it’s the most common option. LLC stands for “Limited Liability Company,” which is a special kind of company that gives the owners extra legal protections, similar to a corporation, but it has a lot less legal requirements than a corporation.

What the Law Says

According to the Iowa Code section 489.108, “The name of a limited liability company must contain the words ‘limited liability company’ or ‘limited company’ or the abbreviation ‘L. L. C.’, ‘LLC’, ‘L. C.’, or ‘LC’. ‘Limited’ may be abbreviated as ‘Ltd.’, and ‘company’ may be abbreviated as ‘Co.'” Iowa and many other states base their LLC laws on the Revised Limited Liability Act of 2006, so you’ll see this wording used almost exactly in a lot of states.

The law quoted above can be a little confusing, because it looks like it permits you to use Ltd. or Co. instead of LLC. Sadly, this is not the case. Most businesses just include the standard abbreviation “LLC” as part of their name, but you are permitted to instead spell those words out. If you do spell the words out, you can abbreviate them, like this: ABC Ltd. Liability Co. or XYZ Ltd. Co.

Your Options

Realistically, here are your options:

  • ABC Limited Liability Company
  • ABC Limited Company
  • ABC Ltd. Liability Co.
  • ABC Ltd. Co.
  • ABC LC

I suggest just sticking to “LLC.” That’s what Google uses!

By the way, Iowa is one of the few states that allow professional LLCs to simply add PLC to the name. Many states require PLLC. Professional LLCs are a special variation of an LLC for doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects and other licensed professions. In fact, you cannot use PLLC or PLC as part of your name unless you are a licensed professional.

Important! Make your name distinguishable

Two companies in the same state cannot have the same name, and you can’t simply have variations of the company type. For example:

  • ABC Co.
  • ABC Limited Liability Company
  • A. B. C. LLC
  • NOOOO! These names are not distinguishable!

The state will not allow you to register one of those names if any of the others exist. ABC Co. and ABC LLC will be treated as the same name. Likewise, you cannot add spaces or punctuation. You have to add at least one letter or number as part of your name.

You don’t have to say LLC though

When telling people your name, you don’t have to say LLC. Likewise, you can refer to your business casually without the LLC. Again, using Google as an example, most people have never considered that Google was an LLC. They don’t have LLC in their logo and they don’t have it in their domain name. It you want to legally refer to your business this way, you can always file a “DBA,” which is sometimes called a “trade name,” though they’re two different things. Google has registered the name “Google,” in Delaware, which is where their business is formed. If you look at their Terms of Service you’ll see they list the LLC as part of their name.

Google LLC from their Terms of Service


You do need LLC or some variation of this in your name if you are an LLC you should probably use “LLC” or “L.L.C.” at the end of your name, since that is the most common ending. Don’t forget, you need to make your name distinct, so if the name you want is already taken, you have to change it by adding letters or numbers—white space, punctuation, or a different ending won’t be enough. You do not have to say LLC every time you say your name, but you should use it in formal communication. If you want something simpler, consider a DBA.

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