CEO and Founder of Kruze Consulting
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Articles of incorporation are one of those pesky files that a startup needs when it opens a bank account, for VC-due diligence, etc. But if you’ve forgotten where you’ve filed them, the good news is that you can search in the state where you incorporated, on the State’s secretary of state website (or whatever the equivalent department is called in that particular state).
Note that some states have slightly different terminology for these documents. In some states, it’s called the articles of incorporation, or a certificate of incorporation, or articles of organization or even a “certificate of formation.” Basically, is the legal document that declares when the corporation was formed.
Most VC-backed startups are Delaware C-Corps, meaning that they’ve incorporated in Delaware. (Read about why VC’s strongly prefer Delaware C-Corps).
Unsurprisingly, the state of Delaware has a pretty great search feature on their Division of Corporations website. Just click here to visit Delaware’s Division of Corporations’ website and search for your company’s name. And if you are incorporated in Delaware, might as well check out our Delaware C-Corp tax calendar here and our Delaware Franchise Tax Calculator as well.
Simple steps to find your articles of incorporation
Know which state your business is incorporated in - if you don’t know for sure, start with Delaware
Visit that state’s Secretary of State or equivalent department - use our list of links below to find the one for your particular state; states make public articles of incorporation!
Use the search box to search for your company’s name - most states do NOT require the exact legal name, but our experience does show that getting the spelling right, in particular for the first several characters, is important in many states
If you find it, pay, or not - some states require you to pay a nominal fee to access the articles of incorporation, but in others it’s free
Repeat - if you don’t get the results you expect, modify the name / spelling and search again; some states also allow for additional search fields like addresses, owner names, etc.
Try another state - and if you can’t get search results on your first state, consider searching other states that you might have used instead
Email your registered agent - if you fail to find your company’s articles of incorporation by directly searching states, try reaching out to your Registered Agent’s help line
While the vast, vast majority of our clients are Delaware C-Corps, we think it would be helpful to provide links to where you can search all states (and DC!) for articles of incorporation.
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