A limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business entity recognized in all 50 states that gives the owners some of the advantages of a partnership combined with the liability protection of a corporation. LLCs form by filing articles of organization, called a certificate of formation in some states, with the office of the Secretary of State or equivalent government agency.
There are a few different places to find information about LLCs—some more reliable and easy to use than others. Keep in mind that some of these sources charge fees to use them.
State Entity Databases
Each state maintains a free searchable online database that provides the public with some basic information about the business entities formed or registered to do business in that state. To find your state's database, search for your state's agency that regulates businesses using any search engine. Once you access your state agency's website, look for "business entity search," "name availability search," or a similar page.
You can search for LLCs by name and retrieve the full name of the entity, its business address, formation date, and the name and address of its registered agent in the state. Many states do not provide information about members or managers, however, and charge a fee to see a copy of the actual articles of organization and any other public filings, such as annual reports.
Because it's common for several LLCs registered in a state to have similar names, it can sometimes be hard to determine whether you've found the correct entity if the LLC you're researching hasn't given you its official company name registered with the state.
For example, an HVAC contractor that calls itself Smith Heating & Air Conditioning might do business through an LLC named Joseph Smith HVAC Services, LLC. There might be other LLCs in the state named Smith HVAC Associates, LLC, Thomas Smith HVAC Partners, LLC, and Smith HVAC Installation Company, LLC. If you have other information, such as a current or past business address, you're more likely to figure out which company in the database is the LLC you're looking for.
The LLC's Website or Office
Another place to look is the business's website. There may be an About Us page or a disclosure on the contact page that gives the exact name of the LLC entity or a personnel directory that identifies the LLC's owners or managers. If the website has a phone number or contact form, you can also ask for the information by calling or sending an email.
Once you have the exact name of the LLC and its business location, you can find out more online.
Business Data Firms
Private companies that sell credit data about businesses can usually provide information about an LLC's owners, business locations, and financial condition, but you usually must pay a fee for that research. A website such as LinkedIn can also be a method for finding out who owns and works for a particular LLC, but LinkedIn profiles can also be configured to keep certain information private.
If the LLC you're dealing with belongs to an industry trade association, the organization may have an online directory that provides information about its member companies.
A simple word search on Google can also pull up useful information if you know the exact name of the LLC entity. You may find customer or client reviews, local news items, litigation, tax collection matters, and the names of owners and employees.
There may be times when you are dealing with an LLC and it would be helpful to have some additional information—such as how long it's been in existence, the location of its offices, or the names of its owners and managers. Use these sources to look up an LLC online.
This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.