California Business Entity Name Search | Step-by-Step Guide

Updated: January 26, 2019

California State Map

California Business Entity Search

The Business Programs Division of the California Secretary of State is responsible for keeping a database containing detailed information on entities incorporated in the state. You can access the database to view information on entities such as Corporations, Limited Liability Companies and Limited Liability Partnerships. You can also use the database to see if the name you want to use for your business is available.

Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not registered with the Secretary of State as they are not individual business entities.  To find more information on sole proprietorships or partnerships, visit the county clerk where the business is located and look at the Fictitious Business Name filings.

To search the Secretary of State database, you need to have at least one of the following information with you:

  • Entity Name
  • Entity Number

How to do a California Business Name Search

If you are someone looking for information regarding corporations or business entities based in California, then you have come to the right place. We’ve made the search process easier to understand with our simple guideline below. Just follow the steps on how to use the search tool of the California Secretary of State.

Step 1 – Go to the Secretary of State’s website and the Business Programs Division’s Search Page (see the screenshot below for reference).

How to do a California Business Entity Search

Step 2 – Choose your Search Type (“Corporation Name”, “LP/LLC Name”, or “Entity Name”). For this example, let’s type in the name of a business entity (“American Coffee Company”) in the “Search Criteria” field.

Next, filter your search by selecting either “Keyword”, “Exact”, or “Begins With” (for this example, let’s select “Keyword”). Then click the “Search” button (see the screenshot below for reference).

California SOS Business Entity Search Instructions

3. The Results Page will then appear with your business entity’s basic information. If you want further information, just click on the entity’s name.

California SOS Corporation Search Results

The screenshot below shows the business entity’s detailed information. You may also download the entity’s Statement of Information and Articles of Incorporation (Corporation) or Articles of Organization (Limited Liability Company) in PDF.

California SOS Business Entity Search Detail

This page provides information such as when the entity registered, the type of business entity (Corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc), status (Good Standing or Suspended), Agent for Service of Process, entity address and entity mailing address.

In California each entity must pay an annual franchise fee for transacting business in the state.  The filing fee for the Franchise Tax is $800 annually.

Agent for Service of Process

In California, an Agent for Service of Process (commonly known as a Registered Agent) is required to be named.  This is a single point of contact in case the business needs to be served with legal papers or contacted by the state.  The business owner often files as the entity’s registered agent.  When they file, their home address is often used (PO Boxes aren’t allowed) and their name address is now a public record that can be looked up by anyone.  If that is a concern, consider looking into a Registered Agent service.

Information on California (CA) SOS

California State Seal

The Office:

The Secretary of State of California is a constitutionally elected officer of the state. He or she serves in office for four years with a two-term limit.

The current Secretary of State is Alex Padilla, a Democrat who assumed office in 2015.

Functions:

The California Secretary of State is responsible for the following duties, among others:

  • Overseeing state elections
  • Maintaining state archives
  • Filing and disclosing campaign lobbyist financial information
  • Registering and recording businesses in the state
  • Certificate of Good Standing
  • Commissioning notaries

Select the State Where the Corporation is Registered: