Businesses can come in many different forms. There are several different types of legal entities which generally dictate who runs the company as well as having tax related implications. The types of business entities include corporations, limited liability corporations, limited liability partnerships, non-profit organization, and sole proprietorship.
Knowing the type of entity a business is registered as could be a valuable piece of information. For example, if a company is a sole proprietorship, which means it is only owned by one person, typically no other person can legally enter into a business contract on that company’s behalf other than the one registered owner. Whereas, if the company is a limited liability partnership, there will be at least two owners, and therefore the two parties can legally transact business on the company’s behalf.
Documents which establish the business entity are generally filed with the Secretary of State in the state where the business is located. Business records filed with the Secretary of State are public records, and therefore can be accessed by any interested party. Most Secretaries of State provide online access to review documents filed by business. The records produced will generally show what type of entity the business is, what type of business they are involved in, and the status of the business. You can also obtain information about all documents filed by that business with the Secretary of State, such as the initial document which created the business entity (articles of organization) and annual reports. Some online systems allow users to print certain business records. If you are interested in obtaining a certified copy of a record, this may require the payment of a fee. You can easily access links to online systems for business records through the Free Records Directory.
However, your quest to establish the legitimacy of a business may not be complete by just searching the Secretary of State filings. Depending on the state and type of business, there may be other business records which establish a company’s status as a business. Many professions require that a business also obtain specific licenses and permits to legally engage in their business. Doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, accountants, nurses, physiologists, cosmologists, and many other professions all require special licensing. Many of these professions have boards or agencies which are responsible for maintaining the licenses. For example, Medical Boards generally regulate doctor licensing and Bar Associations generally regulate lawyer licensing. Finding which board regulates which business could be a time consuming and annoying process. However, the Free Public Records Directory also provides links and resources to locate the professional boards or agencies for every state. Ã¯ ¿ ½