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Secretary of State Business Search Directory for All 50 States

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Secretary of state offices typically process and maintain the records for corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs) and partnerships in that state. If you’re interested in starting a business, this is one of the first places you’ll look to see if similar company names already exist and start the registration process.

Or, if you’re thinking about supporting or working with a business, a secretary of state business search on the respective websites can help you discover if the company is legitimate and in good standing. To save you time, we’ve rounded up websites for all 50 states and the District of Columbia so you can easily find the forms you need.

3 reasons to conduct a secretary of state business search

Here  are three main reasons to seek out your secretary of state’s website.

1.  Search for available business names 

Before you spend a lot of time and money to brand your business around a particular name, you need to be sure that name hasn’t been taken by someone else. Most secretary of state websites provide a name availability function. By typing in the desired name, you can discover if it’s still available or not. If it is, many secretary of state websites allow you to reserve the business name online. This allows business owners to claim a name while they gather paperwork necessary to go through the full registration process.

Registration requirements

Requirements vary depending on your business entity, but you’ll probably need to at least provide: names of the principal(s), registered agent and manager, plus the business name, address and duration.

2. Register your business

After confirming that the desired business name is available, you may be able to register your business online though some states require (or allow) applications by mail and in person. If you’re apprehensive about taking this step, many secretary of state websites provide step-by-step instructions. And since registering your company is just one step in starting a business, states may also provide next steps such as registering with your state’s department of revenue or labor department. It’s also a good idea to apply for your federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you’ll need to file your federal taxes.

3. Learn more about an existing business

Even if you’ve already formed your own company, a secretary of state business search can help you learn more about other companies. You may be thinking of a business-to-business relationship in which you buy from or sell to another company. If you’re considering contracting or subcontracting work, it’s important to know if the company is in good standing, including whether it’s current on its taxes or annual filings. These may be indicators of a company’s overall health.

Limitations of a secretary of state business search

Although secretary of state business searches can provide a wealth of information, they may not be helpful in every situation. That’s because not every type of business is required to register with the secretary of state. While the business search can locate most corporations, LLCs and partnerships, certain entity types — such as sole proprietorships — would not be included in a secretary of state’s database. That’s because these types of entities typically don’t have to register with their state government.

As a result, that company may instead be registered as a “doing business as” or DBA with its local government, so don’t automatically assume that a name is available for you to use before conducting a thorough search. Some secretaries of state maintain DBA databases, but in other states, that would be the job of a city or county clerk.

Where to go for your secretary of state business search

Alabama

Alabama provides an online database for business owners where they can search by name, business ID and registered agent, to name a few. Results show a company’s status, as well as other basic information. Reserve a name and register a business through the secretary of state’s online services page. Domestic filings are $100 plus a county fee, which varies. Reserving a name is $25. A copy of your name reservation certificate must be attached when registering your company.

Alaska

Using Alaska’s searchable database, the availability of a name can be checked using a corporation or LLC’s ID number or name. Results reveal a company’s status and other information including a way to view its biennial reports. A business name can be protected for 120 days by filing a business name reservation. Registering the name provides exclusive rights for up to five years. The cost for either reserving or registering a name is $25. Fees for filing other necessary paperwork such as articles of incorporation depend on your entity type — LLCs must pay $250 to file their articles of organization, for example. All businesses are required to get a $50 Alaska business license.

Arizona

The Arizona Corporations Commission’s eCorp page is the state’s source for searching for a business entity. Searches can be performed by business name, statutory agent name, principal name or entity ID. Then, the searches can be filtered by domestic or foreign entities, active and inactive entity status, county and name type (registered name, reserved name, former name, etc.). There’s also an option to check for name availability. To reserve a business name costs $45. For more information on choosing a name and registering a business, refer to this 10-step guide.

Arkansas

In Arkansas, you can find companies using the business online search. Options include searching by name or fictitious name, registered agent or filing number. Reserve a name and register your business through the state’s online filing system. Or, print and fill out the necessary forms by hand and mail them or deliver them in person to the secretary of state’s business and commercial services office. Forms and fees depend on your entity type — corporations pay $50 to file their articles of incorporation, for example. The cost to file online is $45.

California

Use California’s business search page to search by name or entity number. Effective June 1, 2020, the secretary of state stopped offering free name inquiries by mail. For a $10 fee, you can mail a name reservation request or drop it off for a $20 fee (the additional $10 is the special handling fee). You may be able to register certain types of businesses online, but others require you to submit forms and filing fees in person or through the mail.

Colorado

Find companies using Colorado’s business database or search for available names. When it’s time to register your company, you could check out this tutorial for starting a business or go directly to the form you need.

Connecticut

In Connecticut, search for a company through the state’s business registry. The state’s business startup tool can guide you through the process of searching for a name, selecting and registering a business type and applying for a Tax Registration Number (TRN). You may also find other information on licenses, permits and trademarks.

Delaware

To search for a business in Delaware, there’s a general information name search. If you want company information beyond the basics such as name, address, entity type and formation date, you’ll have to pay a fee.  To reserve a name costs $75 using the name reservation tool. Registering a business begins through Delaware’s one-stop business registration and licensing portal.

District of Columbia

CorpOnline allows you to register your business, file reports and order such documents as good standing certificates. Or, you could get started setting up your new company using the DC Business Center wizard which will walk you through the process of starting a business in the nation’s capital.

Florida

In the Sunshine State, you can run a business search through Sunbiz.org.  The detailed results include such information as the Employer Identification Number (EIN) of a company, its status, as well as the name and address of the registered agent. To reserve a name costs $35. Other filing fees vary depending on your entity type. You could check out Florida’s four-step guide to starting a business.

Georgia

The state’s business search tool provides the ability to search for a business by name, control number, registered agent name or officer name. Create or register your new company through the Georgia Corporations Division. Fees vary depending on your entity — LLCs will pay $100 to $110 to file their articles of organization, for example. The First Stop Business Information Center may be a good starting point — check out its business guide.

Hawaii

The state’s business search tool provides one simple option to find companies by name only. Using Hawaii Business Express, you can reserve or register a business name, purchase documents and perform a variety of other functions. Creating an account is required to create and update a business and also to check on the status of submissions.

Idaho

Using Idaho’s business search portal, you can search for a business by its name, file number, registered agent or filing date.You can start a business online by filling out the appropriate forms, but you’ll need to create an SOSbiz login. If your business requires specialized licenses or permits, follow this online wizard to walk you through the steps of starting your company.

Illinois

The business services database allows you to search for corporations and LLCs by name, keyword or partial word. You could also check if a corporation name is already taken by filing out  this online form. Register your company by selecting your entity type on the business services page. It may be necessary to print and mail forms along with your check to cover necessary fees.

Indiana

Use Indiana’s INBiz to search by business name, business ID, filing number, registered agent name, incorporator or principal name. There’s also an advanced search by type of business, status or address. Form your company through the starting my business page after you create an account.

Iowa

Iowa’s business entities search works for queries by business name or business number. New businesses can reserve a name for 120 days then use the Fast Track Filing system to file business entity documents. You’ll first need to create an account.

Kansas

The Business Entity Search Station is a one-stop shop for searching for existing companies, available names and other information. If a name is available, you can reserve it online for $30, or file by paper for $35. You may be able to register your company online as well — some forms can be submitted electronically along with the appropriate fees.

Kentucky

You can use Kentucky’s FastTrack portal to search for business names and register your company. New business owners will be directed to the One Stop Portal and asked to create an account. Or, you can go directly to the form you need, print it and fill it out then mail it to the secretary of state’s office in Frankfort.

Louisiana

You can search for a business name in this state by searching Louisiana’s business filings using the company’s name, charter, trade registration or name reservation number; or an officer’s or agent’s name. If you want to register your business, start with Louisiana geauxBIZ, which will walk you through filing a name reservation as well as paperwork with the Louisiana secretary of state, revenue department and workforce commission. This is also the place to find out next steps to launch your business and stay on top of follow-up filings. You’ll need to create an account to get started.

Maine

Maine’s corporate name search function is a service offered by the state’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. When it’s time to register your company, select your business type to find the appropriate forms and fee schedules, including a name registration form. Corporations, LLCs and limited partnerships must register their names with the state of Maine. Maine’s Small Business Development Centers are a good place for any new business to start — see its new business checklist and FAQs page.

Maryland

Maryland Business Express is where you search for name availability and create a new business filing. Before you get started, check out the state’s fee schedule and create an account. Online filings are automatically charged an expedited fee.  Unlike most states, sole proprietorships may register with the secretary of state in Maryland. A good place for businesses of all types to get started is here.

Massachusetts

The business entity search helps you locate businesses in Massachusetts. Options include searching by entity name, individual name, business identification number and filing number. To check reserved business names, you can search by business entity name or requestor name. A good place for new businesses to get help is the state’s guide to starting a business, which will walk you through the steps of forming your company, including registering with the secretary of state and other state entities including MassTaxConnect.

Michigan

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has an online system that you can use to search for entities by entity name, individual name or business identification or filing number. To register a business online, select the appropriate business entity and then create an account. The Michigan Small Business Development Center has a guide to starting a business that could offer general as well as state-specific information.

Minnesota

In the state of Minnesota, the search business filings page allows you to look for business names and start the process of filing paperwork for a new company. You’ll first need to create an online account, then check name availability and register your business. It’s also possible to file paperwork in person and by mail — fees may be less for filing by mail. If you want more help, the secretary of state provides a list of steps for new businesses as well as tips for choosing a business name.

Mississippi

You can use Mississippi’s search portal to check for name availability and the status of a business. The secretary of state provides a one-stop shop which will walk you through the steps of creating a new company, but you could go directly to the office’s online filing system where you’ll be asked to create an account. Mississippi only accepts business documents through its online system.

Missouri

The Missouri business entity search portal allows you to search by entity name, charter number, registered agent, name availability and registration date. This is the same system you’ll use to register your business, which will require you to create an account. If you find it confusing to navigate, check out these step-by-step filing guides. The state also offers steps for registering a business here.

Montana

By going to the Montana secretary of state’s home page and clicking “business search,” you can find a business by name or business ID number. Registering a business here is done through the ePass platform, which requires creating an account. An ePass login is also required to use the state’s business checklist, but you could learn more about the process of forming a new company by reading the Montana Small Business Development Center’s startup guide.

Nebraska

In Nebraska, you can conduct a business search to check on a company’s status and obtain a certificate of good standing. To check the availability of a name, submit a written request to  [email protected], fax (402) 471-3666 or P.O. Box 94608, Lincoln, NE 68509-4608. Register a business by filing forms online through the state’s one-stop registration system. You can find a full list of forms and fees here.

Nevada

Using Nevada’s SilverFlume business portal, you can search by entity name, entity number, state business ID number, officer name or registered agent name. Results include status entity type, contact info and other data. SilverFlume is also the platform you’ll use to start your business. A state business license is required here and may be required by your city or county as well.

New Hampshire

Search registered businesses in New Hampshire through the business search tool. You can search by business name, business ID, filing number or registered agent name. Results include business type, address and other pertinent information. NH QuickStart is the place where you would register a new business

New Jersey

Use the business entity name search to look up a company by business name, keyword or entity ID — or check out available names. You can register your business through the state treasury department’s Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services. There is a $125 filing fee for all for-profit companies and a $75 fee for nonprofits.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, you can find companies through the business search page by entering the entity name or DBA. The state’s Start A Business page will help you find out what it takes to register a company in the Land of Enchantment. LLCs may register online, for example, but corporations must mail or hand-deliver applications to the secretary of state. Copies of all forms can be found online. The New Mexico Business Portal may be another useful resource.

New York

In the state of New York, you can search the business entity database for more information on a particular business. Search results include filing date, entity type and status, along with more detailed data like stock information. A returned result doesn’t indicate that a name is necessarily available or unavailable. Therefore, a written request can be sent to the Division of Corporations with a fee of $5 for each name query. You may be able to register your company using the state’s online filing system. New York’s Business Express can also guide you through the process.

North Carolina

Use the business entity search to find a company’s status, type and date formed, among other information, including annual reports. When it’s time to form your own company, this business registration page lays out the initial steps each business type should take. LLCs, corporations and partnerships will then follow the next steps here to register with the secretary of state or go directly to the forms page. The state also offers starting guidance on obtaining any licenses you may need and registering for paying taxes in North Carolina.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, you can search for registered businesses using the business records search. This portal also points to where you can register your business. Unlike some other states, North Dakota does not have an online tool for submitting documents, but you may be able to handle some paperwork and payment by fax. You can find forms for starting a business and a list of fees.

Ohio

You can find Ohio companies using the business name search tool. To register a business, use the forms and fee schedule page, which will direct you to the online portal where you can electronically file the necessary documents. The fee to reserve a name is $39. It costs $99 to register your company. Another good place for new businesses to begin is the secretary of state’s starting and maintaining a business page.

Oklahoma

Use the state’s business entities search tool to find businesses in Oklahoma. An advanced search provides options for searching by filing number, name availability and active businesses. You can protect your company’s name by filing a trade name with the secretary of state. Then, start the process of forming a new business here or go directly to the entity filing page.

Oregon

Oregon’s database provides an extensive list of options to search for a business, including a name availability check. You could then reserve a business name (for a $100 processing fee) and check out business name FAQs. A good place to start the process of registering your new company is the state’s Business Xpress tool, or you could go directly to the secretary of state’s Oregon Business Registry, which requires creating an account so you can log in.

Pennsylvania

In the state of Pennsylvania, the business search tool allows you to search for companies in several ways, including name availability. The portal also provides a way to get to the forms you need to register your company. Forms may be filed using PENN File once you create a username and password.

Rhode Island

Use Rhode Island’s database to search for businesses in a variety of ways — you can look them up by individual name, business ID number, filing name, agent, business address, purpose or North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. For registering your own company, go to the Start Your Rhode Island Business portal, which walks you through the process and lists applicable fees.

South Carolina

The business entities online tool allows you to search for businesses by name and will tell you whether a name is being used or is available. The same tool can be used to begin the registration process — select the “add new entity” option when you’re ready. You’ll need to create an account before you can start registering. New businesses can also use the South Carolina Business One Stop to get started.

South Dakota

Research companies in South Dakota using the business information search. Then, when you’re ready to register your own business, go to the secretary of state’s business services page, which is also where you would check name availability and find FAQs. When using the availability search, keep in mind that it is an exact name search. If you want to check variations of a name, it is recommended that you use the business information search. You could also go directly to the new business registration page to start the process for your corporation or LLC.

Tennessee

In the state of Tennessee, a business information search can be done by the business’s name or its secretary of state control number. When searching by name, you can choose either “starts with” or “contains.” Search results include entity type, name status and entity filing date, as well as other items. To register a new business, there is an instructions portal that also leads to the necessary forms and fees. More information on starting a business can be found on Tennessee SmartStart, which requires you to create an account.

Texas

When researching businesses in Texas, use the taxable entity search to sort by tax ID, entity name or file number. Results reveal a company’s taxpayer number, registration date and other information. To see if a name is available, an inquiry can be made by phone (512-463-5555) or by email ([email protected]). SOSDirect is the online portal for reserving a name and registering a business. You could find forms and fee schedules online as well.

Utah

Conduct a business search by company name, number or name of the company’s executive for a $3 processing fee. Search tips include using full words (like “automotive”), beginning of words (“auto” instead of “automotive”) and placing quotes around phrases (like “A & A Auto”). To register your own business, the OneStop portal requires you to create an account. The state chamber of commerce also has a handy guide for new businesses.

Vermont

When searching for Vermont business names, use the express search tool to look up companies by business type, status and principal name. To register a business, the secretary of state’s business services division provides a step-by-step tool.

Virginia

In the commonwealth of Virginia, you can use the business entity search to find companies. If a name is available, you can choose to register the business using this name. However, you’ll need to create an account through the State Corporation Commission Clerk’s Information System and log in to proceed. You also check out the commission’s resource page for new businesses.

Washington

When searching for a business in the state of Washington, you can conduct a search by business type, business status, registered agent and other factors. The Washington Business Hub includes information on how to register a business, as well as a small business guide.

West Virginia

Search by organization name in the business entity search tool or by more options here. Search results include the entity type and status, along with detailed information about a company including officers, annual reports, DBAs and subsidiaries (if any). You may also call the secretary of state’s business division at 304-558-8000 for an informal check on name availability. To register your business, the One Stop Business Portal provides digital registration with the secretary of state, tax department and WorkForce West Virginia.

Wisconsin

You could look for companies through the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ records or conduct a name availability search. When you’re ready to register your business, use the state’s One Stop Business Portal (OSB); however, you will need to create an account. Read about the process in this three-step guide to opening your business.

Wyoming

In Wyoming, the state’s business center has a search portal to find existing company names. Tips for creating your own company name can be found here, which you can use before filling out the name reservation form ($50 filing fee). When you’re ready to register, the online registration portal includes filing instructions and fees for various entity types.

 

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