Research RoundUp: Business Filings Databases Updated

Revised and Updated: January 17, 2005, March 15, 2006, August 25, 2007 and December 5, 2009.

All 50 states make some level of corporate and business filings available online. In a few instances only limited information (such as name availability) is retrievable. The majority of the states, however, use their Web presence to disseminate a range of public business records -- and most of them offer access at no charge.

This update reflects changes that have been made in the previously listed databases. The scope of this roundup does not yet include tax filings. Taxing authorities are mentioned for two states (Maryland and New Jersey) because they offer the only online route to business organization and trade name information in those jurisdictions.

Unless otherwise stated, each database listed below is free.

Before using an online public records database, it is always a good idea to look for a disclosure of how recently the information was updated.

Alabama

The Secretary of State allows online searching of its corporations, elections, Land Division, notary public, civil law notary, sports agents, trademark and UCC records. The Secretary of State Inquiry System corporations database includes non-profits, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships, and registered limited liability partnerships, as well as foreign entities that have qualified to do business in the state. The database permits searching by corporation name or number, or officer, agent or incorporator.

Alaska

The Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing (which is part of the Department of Commerce) gives online access to its searchable database of domestic and foreign corporate records, trademarks, and reserved or registered business names. Business search results include the entity's status (such as active - good standing, active- noncompliant or involuntarily dissolved). You may search by entity name, Alaska Entity Number, or the name of the registered agent or an officer. The Division accepts online filings of articles of incorporation, articles of organization, business name registrations and biennial reports.

Arizona

The Secretary of Corporation Commission's Corporations Division hosts the State of Arizona Public Access System (STARPAS) database of corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, trademarks, and trade names. The name availability search tool permits the user to proceed from a successful search to online name registration. In addition to a search tool, STARPAS offers alphabetical lists of active corporations, inactive corporations, corporations that have changed their names, and corporate agents. The Secretary of State also maintains searchable databases of partnerships, registered trade names, UCC filings, lobbyists, notaries, charitable organizations and registered telephone solicitors.

The Corporation Commission Corporations Division accepts online filing of name reservations and annual reports.

Arkansas

The Secretary of State maintains searchable databases of corporations, as well as not-for-profits, banks and insurance companies, trademarks, co-operatives, and notaries. The Secretary of State accepts online business filings (such as articles of incorporation or organization, certificates of amendment, and applications for fictitious names or certificates of authority) and UCC filings by MasterCard, VISA, Discover, American Express or Information Network of Arkansas (INA) account. INA subscribers may search and make electronic filings to the UCC database.

California

The Secretary of State's Business Portal offers online searchable databases of corporate, limited partnership and LLC records. The office accepts electronic filing of Statement of Information forms, which requires payment by credit card.

Colorado

The Secretary of State offers Web access to its business entity, trademark and trade name records. Other records available online include UCC and EFS records. Information includes name availability. Certificates of good standing are available at no charge from the site which accepts electronic filing of periodic reports, UCC/EFS records, and a variety of business documents, including trademark registrations. Searching the UCC and EFS filings requires registration and a user ID and password.

Connecticut

The Secretary of the State's Concord Business Inquiry service retrieves filing information by entity name, business ID and filing number. The UCC Inquiry Search retrieves by debtor or business name and by lien number. The page accepts online business and UCC filings, for which a customer ID and password are required.

Delaware

The Division of Corporations has a General Information Name Search tool, which supplies an entity's file number, incorporation date, registered agent name, address, phone number and residency. This tool also displays the status of an entity, because the database covers both active and inactive entities. The Division has an online name availability search tool that covers an array of business and other entities, including statutory trusts. The office also has an online filing system for annual franchise tax reports and UCC filings.

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs offers online tools for registering business organizations (including sole proprietorships, general partnerships and cooperative associations), for checking name availability, and for retrieving status and other information from the registered organizations database.

Florida

To search records for corporations, LLCs, general, limited, and limited liability partnerships, trademarks, federal and judgment liens, and fictitious names, use the Secretary of State's Sunbiz utility, which provides digital images of the actual documents on file. In addition to retrieving information by a variety of names, this utility will search by FEIN and state document number. Sunbiz also accepts corporate, limited partnership, LLC, fictitious name registration, Uniform Business Report, judgment lien, annual reports, and reinstatement filings online. The Division accepts payment by credit card or Sunbiz E-file Account. UCC filings and searches are now available at the Florida Secured Transaction Registry.

Georgia

The Corporations Division of the Secretary of State offers several methods for retrieving filings. The Division's site has a tool for searching the corporate database by business name, control number, officers or registered agent. The Business Filings page permits online name reservations, formation of LLCs and profit, professional and non-profit corporations, and annual registrations. The site allows online name reservation. Online account holders may order certificates of existence and certified copies from the site. The Secretary of State also has a searchable trademark database.

Hawaii

The online services of the Business Registration Division of the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs include searching for business entities and names, making annual filings, and obtaining certificates of good standing. An account (which is free) is necessary to use Business Express. The Hawai'i Business Express service permits online creation of a variety of entities, including nonprofits. The Business Entity List Builder generates a customized list of information about businesses that are registered with the state and meet user-defined criteria (such as zip code). The information returned provides all addresses, officers, trade names, trade marks, and service marks associated with the businesses. An eHawaiiGov subscription is necessary for the Business Entity List Builder.

Idaho

The Secretary of State retrieves business and non profit entity information by a variety of criteria, including the name or address of the entity or its registered agent, filing number, or date of origination. The information includes name reservations and registrations and business names. The Secretary of State accepts online filing of annual reports. The Secretary of State also has searchable databases of trademarks http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/trademark/search.html and notaries public. The office has a searchable database of UCC filings and accepts electronic UCC-1 and UCC-3 filings.

Illinois

The Secretary of State Business Services page allows online searching of corporate and LLC name availability, as well as of the corporate and LLC filing database. There is also a search tool for UCC filings and federal tax liens. The office accepts online filing of articles of incorporation, organization and amendment, corporate and LLC assumed name renewals and annual reports for corporations, LLCs and not for profits, UCC-1 financing statements and UCC-3 amendments.

Indiana

The Secretary of State's Business Services Division permits searching for business entities by name, checking name availability, downloading monthly listings of new corporations, and obtaining Certificates of Existence or Authorization (which you may print straight from the site). Orders for the entire Business Entity Database are possible as well. The site has an online new business entity registration tool. The site accepts online filings of Business Entity Reports and UCC Financing Statements and offers a searchable UCC database. An Access Indiana Information Network subscription is required for UCC filings.

Iowa

The Secretary of State makes its entire filings database available online, including corporate names, officers, stock, agents, and addresses, as well as trademarks. The office also has searchable databases of notary, federal tax lien and UCC records. The office accepts electronic biennial reports and UCC filings.

Kansas

The Kansas Secretary of State's Business Entity Search Station ("BESS") has searchable databases of business filing information, name availability, trademarks, and registered charities. The KSBusinessCenter accepts online filing of annual reports. That site also permits electronic filing of formation documents, amendments of registered agent or office and other documents (but does not detail exactly which) by users who have registered as KBC Insiders.

Kentucky

The Secretary of State's site permits searching for business name availability; corporate status, registered agent and address, officers, and assumed names; LLC members or managers; or available scanned documents (everything filed since September 15, 2004, with earlier filings available as they are scanned). Searchable databases are also available of corporate officers and LLC members and managers, UCC filings, trademark registrations, and notaries. The site accepts online filings of annual reports, assumed name renewals, and UCC financing statements.

Louisiana

The Secretary of State Commercial Division Corporations Section offers a database of business and individual names, registered agents, and trademarks. The Notary Division has a searchable database of notaries.

Maine

The Secretary of State's Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions has a database of basic business information for business and nonprofit corporations, LLCs, and limited liability partnerships. The information includes the ID number, clerk or agent name, mailing address, status, and date of incorporation or filing. The UCC Online Services permit searching for filings as well as making them. To obtain plain or certified copies of filings and certificates of good standing or existence, users must subscribe to InforME, the Information Resource of Maine. InforME subscribers may download Certificates of Existence and copies of corporate filings, search for entities by clerk or registered agent, and file multiple annual reports online. The Bureau offers a searchable database of notary registrations and offers a profile renewal and update service.

Maryland

The Department of Assessments and Taxation provides the name, principal address, agent, and business personal property information for corporations, LLCs, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability limited partnerships, and trade names. This database also includes registered names. It is possible to print and purchase a Certificate of Status. The same office has a searchable database of UCC filings. The Secretary of State maintains databases of trademarks, charitable organizations and notaries.

Massachusetts

The Secretary of the Commonwealth now offers searchable databases of business entity filings, rejected business filings, trademark filings, and of UCC filings. The business filings database is searchable by the name of the entity or of a director or officer or by identification or filing number. The search results disclose copious information about the entity (including stock information, directors' names and addresses, date of organization, and fiscal year end) and allow online ordering of nearly 40 types of certificates pertaining to a selected business. The Secretary also offers online filing systems for new business entity formation, pre-filled annual report forms and for UCC documents.

Michigan

The Corporation Division of the Bureau of Commercial Services has an online database of corporations, limited partnership, LLC, and foreign corporation and limited partnership records, as well as a name availability search tool. FILEOnline allows some existing business entities to file annual reports and statements online.

Minnesota

The Secretary of State's free services provide online access to minimal information about a business entity, such as name, file number, filing type and city. It's possible to search for business entity data or a UCC filing by filing number and to check name availability. A Direct Access subscription is necessary to order certified copies and certificates and to search the UCC database (with one exception: finding a UCC filing by filing number is free).

Mississippi

The Secretary of State's Business Services Division provides information by business ID, business or officer name, or registered agent. The office also has a Standard Industrial Code (SIC) look-up. The site accepts online filing of annual reports and offers accounts for ordering documents and making UCC filings online. The UCC search tool retrieves organization or individual information for standard RA9, non-standard RA9, and file number searches. The notary public page offers databases of both notaries and notary employers.

Missouri

The Secretary of State has a business entity database that covers domestic and foreign business organizations (including profit, non-profit, close, and professional corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies and partnerships), fictitious names, and name reservations. UCC records are searchable by debtor name (Standard RA9 or Non-Standard RA9) or filing number. The office accepts online filing of limited liability company articles of organization, annual registration reports and fictitious name registrations and offers accounts for ordering corporate documents online. There are search tools for locating commissioned notaries and for verifying document certification.

Montana

The Secretary of State's Business Entity Search discloses basic organization and contact information from filings. Registered users of ePassMontana may search the databases of registered principals. It is possible to purchase and print certificates of existence or authorization, as well as a complete or customized list of the office's business filings. (Customization is by type of entity record -- for example, all domestic corporation records, or all trademark records.) The office accepts online filings of annual reports. It offers public access to UCC records and online filing of UCC documents, to registered users of mt.gov.

Nebraska

The Secretary of State permits searching for basic information about corporations and other registered business entities. Search results give the entity name, type, contact, date filed, status, account number and a list of filed documents, which may be retrieved online for a nominal per-page cost. Otherwise, Nebraska.gov offers a subscription service for access to online databases of public filings - business entity, UCC, drivers license, sales and use tax, and vehicle title, lien and registration records. A subscription includes the right to make some filings (such as UCC) online. Subscription information packets are available on e-mail request, or you may download one.

Nevada

The Secretary of State Commercial Recordings Division's corporations database is searchable by name, registered agent, officer, file number, or Nevada business ID. The site accepts electronic filing of name reservations and permits bulk data reporting of UCC liens and commercial recordings by users who have created an account with the site. An account is also required to search the UCC database.

New Hampshire

The Secretary of State Corporation Division's business look-up retrieves information by business name, business ID or registered agent. It's also possible to search the trademark database. The division accepts online filing of annual reports. Searching the UCC database requires an account or per-search payment by credit card. UCC filings may also be made online, for a fee.

New Jersey

The Division of Revenue's Business Gateway Service offers several search engines. If you select Gateway Watch and Business Name Search, you will have the choice of searching the Business Entity database, the UCC filing database, and the trademark and trade name database. If you select Business List Search, you may generate a list of business entity, UCC, or trademark/trade name filings that meet the criteria you specify. The service requires registration and imposes a fee for status reports or registering a name, but does permit browsing at no charge. The Division of Revenue Business Formation and Registration page accepts online filing of annual reports, UCC forms, and certificates to create corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships, as well as to qualify foreign businesses in the state.

New Mexico

To search the state's corporate records by entity or director name, use the inquiry form at the Public Regulation Commission page. The Secretary of State's site permits online viewing of images in its UCC filings database, which offers access to filings before and after the recent revision of Article 9.

New York

The Department of State's corporation and business entity database contains information about corporations, nonprofits, limited partnerships, LLCs, limited liability partnerships, and undefined "miscellaneous" entities. It's possible to form a business corporation or limited liability company online using OPAL (Online Permit Assistance and Licensing). Navigation is tricky and not self-evident. Choose "Online Applications," then "State, Department of," then either "Corporation, Certificate of Incorporation" or "Limited Liability Company, Articles of Organization." The site will urge you to select a business type function (such as nail specialty license); override this by simply pressing "OK." The Department of State accepts electronic filing of UCC financing statements and amendments and has a UCC filing search tool.

North Carolina

The Secretary of State's Corporations Division offers online searching of information about every business entity on file with the office. It's possible to search for name reservations and the latest incorporations by date or county. Use the Search by Corporation Name link to check on name availability (as well as pull up business entity data). There is also a search engine for registered agents. A searchable UCC database is online, and the site accepts electronic annual report and UCC filings.

North Dakota

The Secretary of State's business records database covers corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability limited partnerships, partnership fictitious names, trade names, trademarks and real estate investment trusts. The Central Indexing Division has a fee-based Direct Access system for its UCC, farm products, and miscellaneous filings.

Ohio

The Secretary of State's registered business database is searchable by entity name, charter or registration number, agent or contact name, prior business name, document number, or church name. It includes corporations, professional associations, churches, foreign corporations and name registrations, business and real estate trusts, fictitious and trade names, LLCs, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships, trademarks, and name reservations. It's possible to obtain an online certificate of good standing with payment by credit card. A UCC filing database is available. An Automated Clearinghouse Account is necessary to make online UCC filings

Oklahoma

The Secretary of State's SOONER Access offers searchable databases of name availability, business, trademark, and notary registrations. It accepts electronic filing of business, trademark, and notary documents, as well as online orders for copies of documents, each for a fee.

Oregon

The Secretary of State Corporation Division's Business Registry database is searchable by business name or registry number. The division also has an index of other state government databases that are searchable by business name. The division accepts online filings of annual reports, registration renewals and assumed name registrations and also has a Central Business Registry that permits online formation of corporations, nonprofits and LLCs. The UCC filing database is searchable by a variety of criteria.

Pennsylvania

TheCorporation Bureau of the Department of State offers a business entity search (by name or entity ID) and a UCC filing search (by Standard RA9, Non-Standard RA9 and file number). The Bureau of Charitable Organizations offers a searchable database of registered charitable organizations and permits online registration.

Rhode Island

The Secretary of State has searchable databases for active and inactive corporations. The search options include keywords from the purpose statement. The site accepts online business filings from users with a Customer ID Number and PIN. The office offers searchable databases of UCC filings and notaries and accepts UCC filings online.

South Carolina

The Secretary of State's business filings database is searchable by entity name or registered agent. South Carolina Business One Stop permits online registration of the spectrum of entities (including sole proprietorships and nonprofits); a user ID is required for log-in. The UCC database is also searchable.

South Dakota

The Secretary of State offers a simple look-up for a business organization's ID number, type, and standing status. Take the View Business Documents link next to an entry to see documents on file for it, such as annual reports or articles of incorporation. The Business Name Registration System permits searching for information about businesses, owners, and registrations. It also allows online name registration. The Dakota Fast File system allows online filing of and access to UCC, Effective Financing Statement, and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe lien records.

Tennessee

The Department of State has searchable databases of business name availability; of information about domestic and registered corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, and LLPs; of trademarks and of UCC filings. The One Stop Business Resource allows the online formation of business entities (as well as obtaining state tax ID and unemployment insurance numbers). Corporations, LLCs and domestic limited liability partnerships may file annual reports online. There is also a database of commissioned notaries.

Texas

The Secretary of State has set up a subscription service called SOS Direct for its database of corporate, limited partnership, LLC, LLP, unincorporated non profit association, foreign and state financial institution, assumed name, trademark and UCC filings. The online records also include filings by foreign and state financial institutions and Probate Code filings by foreign corporate fiduciaries. The system accepts electronic filing of a number of article and certificate types, as well as online orders for copies and certificates.

Utah

Run business entity, name availability, registered principal, and UCC filing searches at the Commerce Department's Division of Corporations and Commercial Code. The site accepts UCC filings, business registrations and annual registration renewals and trademark registrations online.

Vermont

From the Secretary of State's Corporations page you can search business name reservations and foreign corporation registrations; obtain the officers, registered agents, and addresses of registered corporations; determine the owner of a registered trademark or trade name; retrieve UCC filings by debtor or keyword; and search databases of notaries, election results, lobbyists, and professional licenses. It's possible to search all databases simultaneously and download the entire corporation, trade name, LLC and UCC databases. The Secretary of State accepts e-mail orders for certificates of good standing or certified copies from users with prepaid accounts. The site accepts online filing of annual reports and UCC-1s.

Virginia

The Office of the Clerk of the Corporation Commission offers no-charge access to its corporate, limited partnership, LLC, UCC filings, and tax liens databases through the Clerk's Information System. Unofficial copies of annual reports may be retrieved by corporate ID and viewed online

Washington

The Secretary of State's Corporations Division posts searchable registration information for corporations, limited partnerships, LLCs, LLPs, and other registered entities. The office has a page in place to accept online applications to register a variety of business entities, as well as annual renewals and reports of corporations and LLCs, but the function was suspended for technical reasons at the date of the last update. The Secretary of State also maintains a searchable database of registered charitable organizations and of UCC filings (the latter entails a fee). The Department of Licensing allows online UCC filings.

West Virginia

The Secretary of State Corporations Division's Business Organizations Information System covers active and terminated corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, business trusts and other registered entities, as well as trade names, name reservations and registrations. The Corporations Division has an online ordering system for good standing certificates, certificates of existence, and UCC searches. Set up an account with Business for West Virginia to create a business entity online or to file LLC annual reports. The Secretary of State also offers a searchable database of professional charities and UCC filings.

Wisconsin

The Department of Financial Institutions' Corporate Registration Information System (CRIS) provides the status, selected information from charter documents (excluding names and addresses of officers and directors but including the registered agent name and office address), and locator numbers of filed annual reports for domestic and foreign business and non-stock corporations, cooperative associations, limited partnerships, LLCs, LLPs, and common law trusts. Read the Name Availability Guide before using CRIS to check on proposed business names. The department also has a searchable trademark database. QuickStart LLC permits online creation of a limited liability company. It is also possible to form business corporations and statutory close corporations online. The Department accepts online filing of corporate and LLC annual reports and of UCC documents, as well as orders for certificates of status. There is a UCC filing search engine and InstantUCC accepts online filing of UCC documents

Wyoming

The Secretary of State has tools for searching for registered entities by name and by filing ID. The site has an annual report filing wizard. It's possible to download the entire business entity database from this page. The UCC E-System allows account holders to search UCC records and make electronic filings.

Commercial Services

CTAdvantage (formerly known as CT Corporation Systems) offers online public record searches for subscribers.

LeapLaw gives its subscribers access to business entity and UCC databases in all 50 states.

LexisOne makes public records (including corporate filings) from all 50 states available on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Access information from any single state's business records under Your State's Research Materials, or through State Public Records.

Westlaw's multistate public records databases include combined corporate records and business registration records (CORP-ALL) and combined fictitious business name records (FBN-ALL).

©Kathy Biehl 2009. All Rights Reserved.