Secretary of State Business Entity Search Guide (All 50 States)

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Are you looking to check the availability of the business name you have chosen or are looking to find information about any business entity registered in the United States? If so, then you have to the right place. We have compiled a list of resources and links which will help you conduct the search right away! Absolutely Free!

Any legal business entity (Corporation/LLC/LLP/Partnership etc.) which is currently operating or was operational, must be registered with the state’s office of Secretary of State (SOS). The business division of state’s SOS is generally responsible for registration and record keeping of the business entities registered in the state.

Generally, SOS provides a set of online tools to find business information and check the availability of a business name. Our step-by-step guide will help you navigate through the SOS website and conduct the search successfully.

Business Entity Search/Name Availability Search

Secretary of State (SOS) of each state and commonwealth maintains an individual database of all the businesses registered with them. All the records stored with the SOS, are a matter of public record and anyone can access it for free. To find information about any business entity or check for name availability, one just needs to conduct the search on the state’s SOS website.

But the way SOS websites are structured, it is very difficult for first-time users to understand and run the query properly. Upon that the terms used to describe the business information can be confusing.

We have solved this problem, by providing step by step instructions along with illustrations so that anyone with basic computer knowledge can conduct the search. Along with it, we also explain the meaning of each of the data in the report thus simplifying the overall process for you.

For example, while conducting the search, you may come across a term ‘Standing – Delinquent‘ which actually means the business did not file the periodic report on time and is no more in good standing with the state.

How is Business entity Search helpful?

Business search can be helpful in following ways:

  • To check Business Name Availablity – First step of registering any business is to select its name. But one can not simply choose any name. The name must be unique and distinguishable within the state, it operates in. At the same time, the name should not violate any trademarks.  Using the name availability checker, business owners can check if the name they have chosen is available for registration in the state or not.
  • To gather information about any business – Searching for a business can provide insights as to who is the owner of the firm, business address, whether the business is active/inactive and more. This information can help someone to verify the existence of the firm and gather competitive intelligence about it.
  • To obtain Certificate of Good standing/Existence – Certificate of good standing is issued by the SOS to businesses who are compliant with the state requirements. This indicates that the business has paid all the taxes and filed relevant documents.  Most of the states charge a fee to download the certified copy of the certificate.
  • To file Annual reports or amendments – Using the business search, Business Owners or authorized registered agents can file documents for the business. The document could be annual reports, amendments (change of registered agent, change of ownership) etc.

What sort of businesses can be searched?

In most of the states, information about the sole proprietorships and partnership is not available in the SOS database. Leaving them aside, information on the following types of business entities can be found online:

  • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
  • Limited Partnerships (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • Corporations

Business Entity And Corporation Record Search

Select the state in which you are looking to conduct the search, from the table below:

Last Updated: 24/07/2018