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Business Licensing

Selecting a Name for your Business

Selecting your business name is like laying the cornerstone of a building. Once in place, the entire foundation of the business (i.e. operations, advertising, banking, taxes, assets, etc.) aligns with that “cornerstone”.

Business License name requirements:

  • Per 12 AAC 12.020(a) a business license is required for each [different] business name under which an applicant seeks to engage in business.
  • Per 12 AAC 12.020(g) in advertising and operating a business must use the business name exactly as it appears on the business license.

Conduct a Thorough Name Search

This Division strongly encourages you to conduct a thorough search prior to submitting a business name for consideration in order to avoid legal conflicts and to make certain you are not infringing upon someone else's business name and/or rights.

To see if the name is already on record with this Division, search the corporation, business and professional licensing databases online at License Search.

Additional places to look include, but are not limited to: local, state and federal business license and corporation records; internet; telephone directories; trade magazines; trademark records; catalogs; associations; and so on.

Avoid Name Restrictions

Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing statutes and regulations contain some name restrictions, just to name a few:

  • An unincorporated business may not use "incorporated" or "corporation" as part of its name, whereas an incorporated name must contain "corporation", "company", "incorporation", or "limited", or an abbreviation, as part of its name.
  • A business name may not imply that the organization is a governmental unit (e.g. a city, village or borough) unless they are a governmental unit.
  • Entity names which mislead regarding corporate purpose are not allowed. For example: An entity’s whose true purpose was clothing tailoring/design would not use the word “construction” in its name since the word “construction” misleads and implies the purpose of the entity was construction contracting.
  • A business name may not contain a word with professional licensing restrictions, such as “Engineer”, unless the business has the appropriate professional license.
  • Vulgar names may be in violation of local law or other agency (i.e. banking) requirements. Since, per 12 AAC 12.020(g), a business must operate and advertise in the business name as it appears on the Alaska Business License you are encouraged to check with your local government or other agencies to determine if the name you want may be subject to any name restrictions.
  • For more information go to:

Distinguishable Business Name

Under Business Licensing statutes and regulations there are no restrictions on distinguishable names.

Under Corporation statutes and regulations there are restrictions on distinguishable names for entities. For more information go to What is a Distinguishable Business Name?

For information on how to obtain exclusive rights to your business name go to Reserve or Register a Business Name.

There are no restrictions in Business Licensing or Corporation statutes or regulations on deceptively similar names. For example: Cups Express vs. Cupz Express.

Exclusive Rights to a Business Name

Under Business License statutes AS 43.70 there are no exclusive rights or restrictions on how many business licenses may exist with the same business name; thus there may be multiple business licenses with the exact same name owned by different people.

Exclusive rights exist under Corporation statutes and regulations. For more information, including how a business owner may obtain exclusive rights, go to Reserve or Register a Business Name.

Exclusive rights give the person the exclusive right to the use of that name. Pursuant to Alaska Statute AS 10.35.040(b), the person with exclusive rights may, through the Alaska Court System, seek a court order to prohibit the use of the name and collect damages.

NOTE: Current Alaska Business License Statutes do not restrict issuing multiple business licenses with the exact same name. The department is required to issue a business license under AS 43.70, even if exclusive rights to a name have been secured under Corporation Alaska Statutes Title 10.

Still Need Help?

If you need further assistance regarding your business name you are encouraged to seek legal counsel.

For additional resources, which may provide technical, informational or advisory assistance, go to:

IMPORTANT!

It is important to note this Division's role is ministerial, not judicial. Our function is to approve or disapprove a name based upon statutes and regulation. Approval or disapproval of a name is not a determination of legal rights. A determination made by the Division may be appealed to the Superior Court for a trial de novo.

Contact Us

If you have questions you can reach us at either the Juneau or Anchorage phone numbers listed below or email us at:

Professional Licensing Section license@alaska.gov
Corporations Section corporations@alaska.gov
Business Licensing Section businesslicense@alaska.gov

When contacting this office please direct your questions to the appropriate Section: Corporations, Professional Licensing or Business Licensing. Each Section specializes in its own licensing requirements per Alaska statutes and regulations.