Attorney and author Kathy Biehl practiced law privately in Houston, Texas for 18½ years before relocating to New York City in 1998. She has taught legal research and writing at the University of Houston Law Center and business law at Rice University. A member of the State Bar of Texas, she earned a B.A. with highest honors from Southern Methodist University and a J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where she was a member of Texas Law Review and Order of the Coif. She is co-author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Internet Research (Scarecrow Press, Nov. 2000), with Tara Calishain.
Each edition of Research Roundup will pull together related, practical online services that take outstanding advantage of the convenience and efficiency of the Internet. Research Roundup kicks off with a look at intellectual property databases.
RoundUp#1: Searchable IP Databases
RoundUp#2 : Slip Opinions Listservers
RoundUp#3 : Bill Tracking Resources
RoundUp#4 : Business Filings Databases
RoundUp#5 : Federal/State/Territory Sites with Election Resources
RoundUp#6 : Searchable IP Databases – Updated
RoundUp#7 : Slip Opinions Listservers – Updated
RoundUp#8 : Bill Tracking Resources – Updated
Almost all of the 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 adds three states and 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. If a state is not on the list, it has not posted corporate records online.
Before using an online public records database, it’s always a good idea to look for a disclosure of how recently the information was updated.
The Secretary of State allows online searching of its corporations, elections, home inspectors, notary public, and UCC records. The corporate database includes non-profits, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited partnerships, and registered limited liability partnerships.
The Division of Banking, Securities and Corporations (part of the Department of Community and Economic Development) 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 bankrupt, cancelled, merged out of existence, or voluntarily withdrawn).
The Secretary of State’s Corporation Commission’s Corporations Division has transformed the State of Arizona Public Access System (STARPAS) database of corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, trademarks, and trade names from a subscription to a free service. The Secretary of State also maintains searchable databases of UCC filings, lobbyists, notaries, and registered telephone solicitors.
The Secretary of State maintains searchable databases of corporations, as well as banks and insurance companies, home builders, trademarks, co-operatives, home inspectors, and notaries. The Secretary of State accepts online incorporation filings from account holders with the Information Network of Arkansas.
The Secretary of State’s Business Portal offers online searchable databases of corporate, limited partnership and LLC records.
The Secretary of State now offers Web access to its business entity, trademark and trade name records. This database replaces the previous Direct Access service, which was by subscription only.
The Secretary of the State’s Concord On-Line (also called Concord on the Net) offers access to corporate and UCC filings from 7 AM to 11 PM Eastern time.
To search records for corporations, general and limited liability partnerships, trademarks, UCC filings, federal liens, and fictitious names, use the Secretary of State’s Sunbiz utility, which provides digital images of the actual documents on file. Sunbiz also accepts corporate, general and limited partnership, LLC, Uniform Business Report, and UCC filings online; this aspect of the service requires applying for an account and making a deposit of at least $300.
The Corporations Division of the Secretary of State retrieves business entity information by name, agent, or officer. It accepts online annual registrations, as well as requests for name reservations, registration renewals, status certificates, and certified copies. The page also has a searchable trademark database.
The eGovernment Services include searching for business names and certificates of good standing.
The Secretary of State retrieves business 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 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. For those who prefer an e-mail response, the office has an online name availability inquiry form.
The Secretary of State’s Business Services Online has added monthly listings of new incorporations to its features, which also permit searching for business entities by name, checking name availability, and obtaining Certificates of Existence or Authorization (which you may print straight from the site). Each service entails a nominal fee, which is lower for subscribers to the premium services of Access Indiana Information Network.
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 and UCC records.
Access to corporate records is available by subscribing to the premium services of the Information Network of Kansas.
The Secretary of State’s site permits searching for business name availability; corporate status, registered agent and address, officers, and assumed names; or LLC members or managers. A searchable database of UCC filings is also available.
The Secretary of State Commercial Division Corporations Section offers a database of business and individual names, registered agents, and trademarks.
The Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations has a database of corporate and protected business names, which includes the ID number, clerk or agent name, and mailing address.
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. The same office has a searchable database of UCC filings. The Secretary of State maintains databases of registered trademarks and charitable organizations.
Direct Access, a subscription service of the Corporations Division provides public information about corporations, limited partnerships, LLCs, limited liability partnerships, and business trusts, as well as tax and child support liens and Uniform Commercial Code filings.
The Corporation Division of the Corporations, Securities and Land Development Bureau has put its corporations, limited partnership, and LLC database online, but access is availably only through fee-based services such as LEXIS-NEXIS, CDB Infotek, or Information America.
The Secretary of State offers electronic access to its databases by subscription. For subscription Iinformation, visit http://www.sos.state.mn.us/olacc.html.
The Secretary of State’s Business Services Division offers a free service called CorpSnap, which provides information by business ID or name. The notary public page offers databases of both notaries and notary employers.
The Secretary of State posts its business entity database here. It covers more than 34 types of 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.
The Secretary of State offers a subscription service, [email protected] Online, 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.
The Secretary of State Commercial Recordings Division’s corporations database is searchable by name, registered agent, officer, or file number.
The Division of Revenue’s Business Gateway Services has three search engines: one for the registered business entity database (called Status Report Lookups), which discloses status and business addresses for registered business entities, one for name availability, and one for the UCC filings database. The service requires registration and imposes a fee for status reports or registering a name, but does permit browsing at no charge.
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 searches of its UCC filings database.
The Secretary of State‘s corporation and business entity database contains information about corporations, nonprofits, limited partnerships, LLCs, limited limited partnerships, and undefined “miscellaneous” entities.
The Secretary of State’s Corporations Division covers corporations, LLCs, and limited partnerships in its searchable databases. 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. The UCC database is here.
The Secretary of State’s Office of Administration & Licensing maintains a searchable database of licensed charitable organizations. The Central Indexing Division has a fee-based Direct Access system for its UCC, farm products, and miscellaneous filings.
The Secretary of State’s registered business database is searchable by name, charter or registration number, agent or contact name, prior business name, document number, or church name. UCC and campaign finance databases are also available. The databases consist of images of the documents on file.
The Secretary of State Corporation Division has developed an online version of its Business Registry database and, as of mid-February 2001, was still adjusting the system before allowing public access. At the moment, only Uniform Commercial Code filings are online; they’re searchable by lien number or debtor name.
The Department of State offers only a searchable database of registered charitable organizations. Business name availability requests are accepted by e-mail through the Pennsylvania Open For Business site.
The Secretary of State has searchable databases for active and inactive corporations. The search options include keywords from the purpose statement. The office also posts the latest incorporation filings, by week, and offers a searchable database of notaries.
The Secretary of State makes all of its corporate, UCC, and notary filings available through a system called Direct Access. The page has step-by-step instructions for dialing into the system and retrieving information.
The Secretary of State’s subscription-based Dakota Fast File system allows online filing of and access to UCC, Effective Financing Statement, and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe lien records. An alternative version for occasional users, Dakota Fast File Expa, is in the works.
The Secretary of State plans to add a listing of corporations to its site.
The Secretary of State has set up a fee-based Direct Access program for its database of corporate, limited partnership, LLC, assumed name, trademark and UCC filings. Instead of a subscription, the program requires a deposit, from which per-search charges are deducted. Account holders may use dial-up connections or Telnet into the system from the Website.
Run business entity, name availability, registered principal and UCC filing searches at the Commerce Department’s Division of Corporations and Commercial Code.
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.
The Office of the Clerk of the Corporation Commission offers no-charge access to its corporate, limited partnership, LLC, and UCC filings database through Direct Access. An application is necessary to receive a User ID and password for the system.
The Secretary of State’s Corporations Division posts searchable registration information for corporations, limited partnerships, LLCs, and LLPs. The Secretary of State also maintains a searchable database of registered charitable organizations.
The Secretary of State Corporations Division’s Business Organizations Information System covers active and terminated corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships, and other registered entities; trade names name reservations and registrations; and some (but not all) registered trademarks. (The purpose of trademark inclusion is to prevent business entities from adopting a name that infringes on a trademark; while the Secretary of State’s trademark database is not online, the office will accept e-mail requests for searches.)The Corporations Division accepts e-mail orders for copies, good standing certificates, certificates of existence, and officer searches.
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), and locator numbers of filed annual reports for domestic and foreign business and nonstock 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 Secretary of State offers a searchable database of corporate, LLC, limited partnership, statutory trust, unincorporated nonprofit association, trade name, and trademark records.
©Kathy Biehl 2001. All Rights Reserved.