- Most US corporations are registered at the state level. Another company wanting to verify a corporation’s authenticity can visit a state Secretary of State office to find the corporation’s Articles of Incorporation.
- Articles of Incorporation are a set of documents needed for a corporation to legally exist. They typically contain information on the corporation such as its name, address, founders, legal structure, registered agent, directors, purpose, and stock offerings.
- Short of asking a corporation directly, searching at a Secretary of State office—either in person or online—is one of the few ways to get a copy of the corporation’s Articles of Incorporation. But third-party solutions, like Middesk, can find this information much faster and more cost-effectively.
In the US, a corporation’s Articles of Incorporation is one of the most fundamental documents it needs to file with a Secretary of State office in order to begin legally operating. Consequently, a Secretary of State office is the official place where another party can find a copy of a corporation’s Articles of Incorporation, as it’s considered a public information document.
A common example is another business wanting to form a relationship with the corporation, either to sell the corporation products/services or to partner in the enterprise. The business will look for Articles of Incorporation to (partially) verify the corporation both actually exists and is legally registered to operate where it does.
This article talks about acquiring copies of Articles of Incorporation from a Secretary of State office. We discuss what information about a corporation can be found in its Articles of Incorporation, and why this information is important to the corporation, governments, and other businesses. We also introduce some other ways to find a corporation’s Articles of Incorporation that may be faster, more efficient, and/or less expensive.
Our first topic is what Articles of Incorporation are, and why they must be filed with—and can be retrieved from—Secretary of State offices.
Articles of Incorporation is a set of documents that allows a corporation to legally exist. It outlines key information about a company’s identity, including its name, address, purpose, leadership/liaison contacts, and stock offerings. Articles of Incorporation are filed with a Secretary of State office.
Articles of Incorporation are filed with—and provided by—Secretary of State offices
Secretary of State offices in the various states and territories across the US are the main official repositories of information on US businesses. They’re the government institutions with which businesses have to file most of their paperwork needed to start legally operating in particular jurisdictions—including Articles of Incorporation for corporations. Conversely, they’re also the official providers of this information to other entities wanting to know about it—including other organizations performing KYB as a precursor to professional relationships.
Middesk provides a direct link to Secretary of State portals for all US states and territories. This allows businesses to search for Articles of Incorporation—and other information needed to validate businesses—at all official sources at once, without having to consult one at a time. Not only is the data delivered quicker, but it’s also the most current data available.
Articles of Incorporation are important to a few different parties. First is the corporation itself. It cannot legally operate in the US until it submits the document to a Secretary of State office. On the flip side, a state government that receives a corporation’s Articles of Incorporation knows that it has at least one of the documents a corporation needs to legitimately do business in the state.
Also, after they’re filed with a Secretary of State office, Articles of Incorporation become public information that others can look up to verify the business is actually incorporated. These include companies that may be looking to start relationships with the corporation.
A company can go to a Secretary of State office to do an Articles of Incorporation search for a corporation. This allows for ensuring the corporation has actually submitted the document, which is a legal requirement for the corporation to be in business. It also allows for verifying essential information about the corporation.
The information contained in a corporation’s Articles of Incorporation may vary, depending on which state the corporation is registered in. However, the document typically contains most—if not all—of the following information:
- The corporation’s name
- The address of the corporation’s headquarters
- The corporation’s type / legal structure
- The name and address of the corporation’s registered agent
- The names and addresses of the corporation’s initial directors
- The corporation’s stated purpose
- The corporation’s expected duration of existence (if it’s not intended to be permanent)
- The number, type, and value of the corporation’s initial stock offerings (if applicable)
- The name, address, and signature of the incorporator (or incorporators)
If you’re a company wanting to look for another business’s Articles of Incorporation in order to validate its authenticity, you have three basic options.
One is to ask a Secretary of State office for an Articles of Incorporation copy. This can be done in person, but it’s much easier to run a search online. But there’s no official federal-level SoS search tool, so you have to know which state the corporation is registered in (which may not be the same state in which it primarily operates). If you don’t, you’ll likely have to search multiple SoS portals one by one. And each one works a bit differently, sometimes requiring account registration and/or fee payment for conducting searches.
Another is to contact the corporation directly and ask for a copy of its Articles of Incorporation. This is a bit of a long shot, though, as the business may not have its own Articles of Incorporation on hand (at least at a particular branch). And even if it does, it may be reluctant to give a copy to another company without thorough explanations and promises that the document will only be used for business verification purposes. This can involve a lengthy process of negotiation and sending documents securely.
The easiest option, however, is to use a dedicated business identity platform like Middesk. Middesk searches all US Secretary of State offices at once for a business and its formation documents, including its Articles of Incorporation. In fact, it’s one of the few platforms that has a direct relationship with Secretary of State offices in all 50 US states and territories. This means Middesk can instantly retrieve the most up-to-date information needed to verify a corporation’s authenticity and determine its risk profile for a business relationship, including Articles of Incorporation.
Get fast and efficient access to Secretary of State portals for KYB with Middesk
We recommend companies looking to verify corporations’ identities use Middesk to get Articles of Incorporation from Secretary of State portals. Our Business Verification solution saves the time (and money) of having to search for businesses and their records in one portal at a time, with one search at a time. This also ensures the information is as up-to-date as possible, with a refresh time of around two hours (as opposed to daily, weekly, or monthly).
In addition, Middesk also pulls other data useful for authenticating a corporation and assessing the risk of a business relationship with it, at the same time. This includes tax registration, watchlist hits, adverse media coverage, litigations, tax liens, and more.
See how you can get more data for verifying businesses, faster and more cost-effectively, with Middesk by contacting our team for a demo.