During a corporation’s existence, various people or entities may desire certified copies of the articles of incorporation, or formation documents. Articles of incorporation generally state the name of the corporation, the date incorporated, the names of the incorporators, the corporation's business purpose and the number of stock shares issued. They also state the name and address of the initial registered agent, or contact, and may include the signatures of all the incorporators. Certified copies are available to the general public, usually for a copy and certification charge.
Navigate to the Secretary of State’s office or other corporate division for the state of incorporation by using your search engine and typing the name of the state, followed by either “corporations” or “Secretary of State.” Often the official site will be following by a “.gov” or “.us” extension.
Search the official site for the name of your corporation to determine that the business is incorporated in the state. Many states allow viewing and downloading of an uncertified copy of the articles to your computer without charge.
Choose the option available to request certified copies of the articles if your state provides this online service. You will be asked for credit card information for the purchase, and fees vary from state to state. Once ordered and the purchase is confirmed, most states will mail the documents to your address. A few states, however, provide immediate certified copies with site registration or subscription.
Phone or Visit
Visit or call the Secretary of State’s office and request a certified copy. If ordering in person, some offices will provide the copy while you wait. If ordering by phone, the copy will be mailed to the address you provide.
Pay any copy and certification charges. If ordering by phone, you will generally be required to pay by credit card. In person, most offices will accept checks and money orders as well.
Provide a stamped, addressed envelope if ordering in person and service is not immediate. Many states charge additional fees for expedited processing.
Tips & Warnings
- If ordering in person, call ahead to determine your state’s requirements and waiting time.
- Many states also allow ordering via fax.
References & Resources
- Utah.gov: Preparing Articles of Incorporation
- FindLaw: Writing and Filing the Articles of Incorporation
- Division of Corporations, UCC & Commissions
- Alabama Secretary of State: Business Services
- Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations: Frequently Asked Questions
- Alabama Secretary of State, Business Services: Business Entity Record Copies
- Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State: Business & Nonprofit Copy and Certificate Requests
- Northwest Registered Agent LLC: Certified Copy of Articles of Organization From Any Secretary of State
- Maine Department of the Secretary of State: Corporate Name Search
- Northwest Registered Agent: How to Order a Certified Copy of Articles of Organization or a Certified Copy of Articles of Incorporation from Louisiana Secretary of State
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images