Last Updated on March 16, 2023
How To Do An Iowa SOS Business Search
The Business Service Division of the Iowa Secretary of State acts as the record center for any business entities registered in the state. The Division stores information of the following entities:
- For-Profit Corporation
- Nonprofit Corporation
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- Series LLC
- Limited Partnership
- Limited Liability Partnership
- Limited Company
- Cooperative Association
Sole proprietorships and partnerships do not register with the Secretary of State and cannot be searched here. Business names for sole proprietorships and partnerships are registered with the County Recorder in the county where the business is located with the Registration of Trade Name Certificate. Those businesses can be searched at the County Recorder’s office.
See: How to start an LLC in Iowa
How to Search the Iowa Corporation Registry & Business Entity Database:
The Iowa Secretary of State provides an online tool to search for business entities headquartered in the state.
You need to have the following information with you to start your search on entities registered in the state:
- Business Name
- Business Number
Follow our simple step-by-step guide to make your Iowa business entity search easier:
Step 1. On the Iowa Secretary of State’s website, click on “Business Entities” (see the screenshot below for reference).
Step 2. Key in the Business Name or the Business Number. While it’s not mandatory to fill out all fields, entering information in all fields will give you a more exact result. As an example, search by name, let’s type in “Clean Inc” in the “Business name” field (see the screenshot below for reference).
Step 3. Click on the “Search” button, and the Results Page will show (it will look something like the screenshot below):
The Results Page will give you information regarding Business Number, Status, and Type of the entity you have searched.
* The online search tool allows you to enter only the first few letters of the entity name. You will then get results of entity names starting with those letters.
* The Division also allows you to file online reports, as well as download online filing forms to form new entities in the state.
Step 4. The Business Entity Summary provides an overview of the business you were searching for.
- Business Number
- Legal Name
- Status (Good Standing is Active, while Not in Good Standing will be any other results)
- State of Inc (If the result is Iowa, the entity is a domestic entity, while an out-of-state result is a foreign entity)
- Expiration Date (Most choose perpetual, which intend to last forever)
- Effective Date (Date the entity first became active
- Filing Date (Date the Articles of Incorporation (Corporations) or Articles or Organization (Limited Liability Company) were filed with the Secretary of State
From this screen, the Certificate of Existence can be printed.
In Iowa, one of the requirements for registered businesses is that a Registered Agent has to be named. This agent is a single point of contact in case the business needs to be served with legal papers or contacted by the state. One of the business owners often files as the entity's Registered Agent. When they file, their home address is often used (PO Boxes aren’t allowed), and the owner's name and address are now a public record that can be looked up by anyone. This can be a big concern, especially for home-based businesses. Using a commercial Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent will keep their personal address from being public record.
The business name registration is different from business licensing in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Revenue has more information regarding Iowa business licenses.
Also see: How to do an Iowa UCC search
Information on the Iowa (IA) SOS
The Iowa Secretary of State is a constitutional office of the state with a term of years. The current officeholder is Paul D. Pate. He assumed office in 2015.
The Secretary of State is responsible for a majority of state functions and duties. The Secretary of State’s responsibilities are among the following four divisions:
- Elections and Voter Registrations
- Business Services
- Administrative Services
- Communication and Publications
Apart from the above, the Secretary of the State is also the custodian of the Great Seal of the State and the keeper of public records and archives.
Secretary of State Contact Information
First Floor, Lucas Building
321 E. 12th St.
Des Moines, IA 50319