How do I Determine Who Is an Officer or Principal of a Corporation or LLC?

By Brian Richards

Limited liability companies and corporations must register in every state in which they conduct business. Companies usually register with the state’s secretary of state, and an agency within the secretary’s office usually maintains the records. Many states also keep registrations in a specialized corporations division. Looking up a business record in the secretary of state’s database will reveal the contact information for the LLC’s or corporation’s registered agent, from whom you can obtain the information you need.

Step 1

Access your state’s secretary of state' website. Alternately, access your state's corporation division's website.

Step 2

Find a link that will allow you to perform a business lookup. Most states maintain an online searchable database of all businesses registered in the state. If you cannot find a link, contact the secretary of state's office for assistance.

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Step 3

Enter the exact name of the business you are looking for in the search box. Include any applicable suffixes, such as “limited liability company” or “incorporated.”

Step 4

Locate the name of the business in the search results. Click on its name to view the full information the state has on the company.

Step 5

Locate the name and contact information of the LLC's or corporation’s registered agent. This is the individual who is the company's contact for any official matters.

Step 6

Contact the company’s registered agent to find out the business’s officer or principal. The registered agent may not be the top officer, and may even not be an employee of the company. However, he will have the names and contact information of the chief members of the business.

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A limited liability company, or LLC, is formed under the laws of a state by filing articles of organization with a state business registration agency, usually the secretary of state's office. The articles of organization provide notice to the public that the company exists, that it will be operating as a business entity that is separate from its owners and that it can be contacted through a registered agent. The articles are a public document. All states maintain a database that is accessible to anyone over the Internet where this basic information about an LLC can be viewed.

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Searching for LLC names is accomplished by contacting a state government agency that oversees the formation of limited liability companies. Each state has its own agency, such as the Secretary of State in California and the Department of State in Delaware. Searching LLC names in the state where you intend to form an LLC, before drawing up any papers, will save you time.

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Certificates of incorporation are filed with the state where a corporation maintains its residency. These documents are part of the public record because they serve to inform the public of the authorized existence of corporations registered with the state and who members the public can contact if they need to sue the business. The popularization of the Internet has led every state to make its corporate records database available online. Most state databases append a printable image of the certificate of incorporation that can serve as a substitute for a lost certificate. Some states charge a fee to print out a copy. Other states only provide certified copies of certificates and only upon written request and when accompanied by the appropriate fee.

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