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How to do a UCC Search

Learn what a UCC Statement is and how to search state databases to look up business debts. 

The UCC or Uniform Commercial Code refers to laws that govern the sale of certain commercial transactions when a lender is involved.

A UCC filing (sometimes referred to as a UCC-1, UCC lien or financing statement) is a notice filed by a creditor when they make a loan to a borrower to purchase business assets.   This filing provides the creditor with the security that if the debtor defaults on the debt, the creditor can foreclose on the asset. 

The UCC filing is made with the Secretary of State.  Each state has laws on the rules and regulations over secured transactions, the UCC is used across the United States to ensure reporting consistency and safety for lenders.  These rules provide lenders the knowledge of whether an asset that is being pledged is available to use as collateral.

UCC liens can be filed on just about any asset.  Some of the more common assets include: real estate, vehicles, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable and more. A UCC lien does not generally impact the day-to-day operations of a business, but may make it more difficult in getting additional funding, depending on the type of UCC filed.

Why is a UCC Filed?

A Uniform Commercial Code filing on business assets serves as a notice to any potential creditors of assets that are pledged.  This provides security to a lender as that borrower can’t pledge those assets for another loan. A large part of the loan making process is the lender is able to take the asset back should the borrower not be able to pay on the debt.  This collateral is then able to be sold to recoup a portion of the debt.  A UCC-1 establishes the lender as a secured party, so even if the borrower goes bankrupt, the lender is paid before unsecured creditors. 

Even though every state has commercial transaction laws, lenders often provide business financing across state lines and it’s not practical for a lender to search each state’s records when making a loan.  The UCC gives a lender assurance that their collateral is protected.  

A UCC also keeps the borrower from selling the asset and keeping all the proceeds.  Any remaining debt would be paid to the secured party first. The only way to remove the lien is by paying off the debt.

Types of UCC Liens

There are two ways UCC are commonly used. 

UCC Lien on Specific Collateral

A lender can write a UCC-1 against a particular asset. This is common when a loan is being requested for a specific purpose, like a piece of equipment, real estate or inventory.

UCC Blanket Lien

A UCC-1 blanket lien, sometimes referred to as a general lien, is a lien placed on all business assets.  Blanket liens are commonly used for commercial and SBA loans and while this type of lien makes it easy for the bank to collateralize a loan, it can cause issues for a business because they lose the ability to pledge assets for additional funding later on or to sell equipment.  The lien holder has to file and release assets which may be a challenge for some borrowers to get them to do.

When do UCC Filings Expire?

A UCC-1 filing automatically expires within five years of filing unless the creditor extends it. 

Once the debtor pays off the lien, the creditor should file a UCC-3 to remove the lien from the asset.

How is a UCC-1 Statement Filed?

A creditor will file a UCC-1 statement with the Secretary of State in the state where the business is located.  The financing statement will include:

  • The borrower’s name and address
  • The lender’s name and address
  • A description of the asset being secured

Since UCC liens are filed with the Secretary of State, these records are made public so they are available for anyone to look up.  Most states allow for the search to look these filing up online without a fee, however some states restrict the amount of information provided. 

UCC liens will typically show up on a business credit report.

Search for UCC Liens by State

Every state is different in how one would search the UCC database.  Click on a state below to see how to do a UCC lien search in each state. 

AlabamaLouisiana Oklahoma 
AlaskaMaine Oregon 
ArizonaMaryland Pennsylvania
ArkansasMassachusetts Puerto Rico
CaliforniaMichigan Rhode Island 
ColoradoMinnesota South Carolina 
ConnecticutMississippi South Dakota 
DelawareMissouri Tennessee 
District of ColumbiaMontanaTexas 
FloridaNebraska Utah 
GeorgiaNevada Vermont 
HawaiiNew Hampshire Virginia 
IdahoNew Jersey Virgin Islands
IllinoisNew Mexico Washington 
IndianaNew York West Virginia 
IowaNorth Carolina Wisconsin 
KansasNorth Dakota Wyoming
KentuckyOhio 

How to Get a Certificate of Good Standing in Illinois

The Illinois Certificate of Good Standing, sometimes called the Certificate of Existence, shows whether a business has a good standing status with the Secretary of State.  This document is used to verify the existence of most business entities in the state to include registered partnerships, corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLC) in Illinois that are authorized to transact business in the state.

Some of the uses of the certificate include:

  • Verifying the existence of the business in order to apply for some licenses and permits.
  • Opening a business checking account.
  • Verifying the entity is registered to do business to do business with some vendors and suppliers.

In addition to showing the status of good standing, these documents will also show a status of suspended, dissolved, or cancelled.

The certified copy will contain the date it was certified, signature of the Illinois Secretary of State. While the certificate itself doesn’t expire, most banks, vendors, suppliers, etc. won’t recognize a certificate that is older than 90 days.

How to order a Certificate of Status

To obtain a Certificate, the business must be

  • Registered as a legal business entity in Illinois
  • Current on all of its filings, annual report and franchise taxes with the Secretary of State

There are a few ways to order a certificate.

Online – The filing fee for ordering online is $25, plus an additional 2.35% or $1 for processing.  The certificate is ready within minutes. Ordering is done on the Secretary of State’s website which is shown below.

Mail – The filing fee for normal processing is $25 and takes around five days to process, plus mailing.  Expedited processing is available and usually takes around 24 hours to process plus time for mailing and costs an additional $20.

In-person – In-person processing receives immediate processing and is done through the Secretary of State’s office.  The filing fee is $25 plus an additional $20 for expedited process.

Steps to get an Illinois Certificate of Good Standing

  1. Visit the Illinois Secretary of State’s website at https://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/.

illinois certificate of good standing

2. Enter the name of the business you want the certificate for. Click continue.

how to get an illinois certificate of good standing

3. Click on the name of the business.

illinois good standing

4. Assuming the entity you are searching is in good standing, click on the link for “purchase certificate of good standing:.

5.  Enter the billing information and if paying by credit card, enter the credit information and click continue to order.

get a certificate of good standing in illinois

How to get a Certificate of Good Standing in California

The California Certificate of Good Standing, sometimes called the Certificate of Status, shows whether a business is in good standing with the Secretary of State.  This document is used to verify the existence for a registered partnership, corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) in California to authorized to transact business in the state.

Some of the uses of the certificate include:

  • Verifying the existence of the business in order to apply for some licenses and permits.
  • Opening a business checking account.
  • Verifying the entity is registered to do business to do business with some vendors and suppliers.

In addition to showing the status of good standing, these documents will also show a status of suspended, dissolved, or cancelled.

 

The certified copy will contain the date it was certified, signature of the California Secretary of State, and the California State Seal. While the certificate itself doesn’t expire, most banks, vendors, suppliers, etc. won’t recognize a certificate that is older than 90 days.

How to order a Certificate of Status

To obtain a Certificate, the business must be

  • Registered as a legal business entity in California
  • Current on all of its filings with both the Secretary of State and Franchise Tax Board

Unlike most states, online ordering of the Certificate of Status isn’t available in California.  The only way to order one is through mail or in-person.

By Mail – First, download and fill out the Business Records Order Form.  This form is mailed to the California Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento along with the filing fee of $5. Typical processing time is 1-2 weeks.

In Person – To file in person, visit the Secretary of State, in the Sacramento office on the 3rd floor.  The filing fee is $15 and is available within 24 hours.

Before filing, be sure to get the business’s Entity File Number, which can be found at the Secretary of State’s website at https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/

How to Search UCC Filings in Alabama

An Alabama UCC (Uniform Commercial Code), also known as a UCC-1 Financing Statement, is a lien filed by a creditor to protect their interest when making a loan.  This lien exists until the debt is paid for and can be placed on any personal property such as vehicles, equipment and more. The UCC does not apply for real estate transactions.  UCC filings protect lenders should the borrower stop paying on the debt or declare bankruptcy.  The UCC provides documentation for the lender and allows the ability to foreclose or force the sale of the property to pay back the debt.

UCC filings are public record and in Alabama, the Secretary of State has an online UCC database.  This database includes both the state UCC and Federal Tax Lien index.  Since some UCC images contain personal information such as social security numbers, federal identification numbers and bank account numbers, images of the UCC documents are only available by completing a UCC-11 information request.

The ability to do an Alabama UCC search is important because provides creditors proof of any liens borrowers have on existing collateral and to ensure there aren’t multiple loans on one asset.

How does the UCC filing process work?

Once approved for secured financing, a creditor files a UCC-1 Financing Statement with the Alabama Secretary of State which creates a lien against the collateral.

The Alabama UCC Financing Statement contains:

  • The borrower’s name and address
  • The lender’s name and address
  • Information about the collateral.

All UCC filings in Alabama will go through the Secretary of State’s office except for collateral that is collateral pertaining to real estate such as crops, timber, gas, minerals, etc.  These filings are done through the Probate Office in the county where the collateral is located.

UCC filings are active in Alabama for 5 years from the date of filing in most cases.  Filings are renewable for long-term debts and filings can be amended to update lender’s position of the secured collateral.

How much does an Alabama UCC search cost?

A UCC-1 Financing Statement request is free if only doing a simple search by name, filing number or date.  If images of the statement are needed an advanced search will need to be done.  Costs start at $15 per filing.

How to search for a UCC filing in Alabama

  1. Visit – https://sos.alabama.gov/government-records/ucc-recordsAlabama Secretary of State UCC Search
  2. On this screen we can search by the debtor’s name, filing number or date of filing.  In this example, we will search by the debtor’s name.AL UCC Search by name
  3. We will search by the last name of search.  To narrow down the results, you can also search by first and last name or the business name.AL Financing Statement Search
  4. These are the results for the name of search for the name of smith in the Alabama Secretary of State’s UCC filing database.AL SOS UCC Search Results

How To Search UCC Filings in Illinois

An Illinois UCC (Uniform Commercial Code), also known as a UCC-1 Financing Statement, is a lien filed by a creditor to protect their interest when making a loan.  This lien exists until the debt is paid for and can be placed on any personal property such as vehicles, equipment and more. A UCC filing does not apply for real estate.  UCC filings protect lenders should the borrower stop paying on the debt or declare bankruptcy.  The UCC provides documentation for the lender and allows the ability to foreclose or force the sale of the property to pay back the debt.

UCC filings are public record and in Illinois, the Secretary of State has an online UCC database.  This database includes both the state UCC and Federal Tax Lien index.  Since some UCC images contain personal information such as social security numbers, federal identification numbers and bank account numbers, images of the UCC documents are only available by completing a UCC-11 information request.

The ability to do a UCC search is important because if multiple creditors have a lien on the same property and the debtor fail to pay, those creditors would be looking at a loss as the collateral would likely not have enough value to satisfy the debts.

How does the UCC filing process work?

Once approved for secured financing, a creditor files a UCC-1 Financing Statement with the Illinois Secretary of State which creates a lien against the collateral.

The Illinois UCC Financing Statement contains:

  • The borrower’s name and address
  • The lender’s name and address
  • Information about the collateral.

All UCC filings in Illinois will go through the Secretary of State’s office except for collateral that is timber to be cut or extracted minerals.  These filings are done through the county recorder’s office in the county where the collateral is located.

UCC filings are active in Illinois for 5 years from the date of filing in most cases.  Filings are renewable for long-term debts and filings can be amended to update lender’s position of the secured collateral.

How much does an Illinois UCC search cost?

A UCC-1 Financing Statement search is free if a simple search is done.  If you want an image of the statement, the cost is $20.

How to search for a UCC filing in Illinois

  1. Visit- http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/business_services/uniform_commercial_code/home.html
  2. Click on UCC/Federal Tax Lien Database Search
    Illinois UCC Search How To
  3. Click on UCC Search, then select by the way you want to search either by the debtor’s personal name, business name, a keyword or file number.Illinois Search UCC Financial Statement
  4. In this example, we will search by the debtor’s last name.  Here we used Smith as the last name.  The last name is required but to narrow the search, you can enter their first or middle name.IL UCC search by last name
  5. These are a sample of the results from the last name of Smith in the Illinois Secretary of State’s UCC database.

Illinois Secretary of State UCC Search