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How to Find Business Records in Florida

Beginning your Search for Florida Business Records

Searching for Business Records in Florida

The Florida Secretary of State maintains business records for businesses that are incorporated in the State of Florida, as well as information on federal liens, judgment liens, fictitious names, and Uniform Commercial Code information. Many of these documents are considered to be matters of public record, such that any private individual may access and view them.

What Records Are Maintained by the Florida Secretary of State?

There are a number of corporate forms that are recognized in Florida that a business may take, including corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships and general partnerships. Once a business has been “incorporated,” or assumed one of these forms, certain laws apply to it. For this reason, businesses are required to file certain documentation with the Florida Secretary of State when these corporate forms are created within the State of Florida.

Additionally, Florida keeps a registry of trademarks that are claimed by Florida businesses. These records are kept by the Florida Secretary of State. However, this registry should not be confused with the national registry maintained by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The Florida Secretary of State also maintains records of certain liens, including federal liens, judgment liens, and Uniform Commercial Code, or UCC, filings. UCC filings provide documentation of a security interest that one party has in the collateral property of a debtor in exchange for a loan.

Finally, businesses do not always operate under their official name, but sometimes operate using a trade name or “fictitious name.” Filed documents evidencing fictitious names are also maintained by the Florida Secretary of State.

Why Would a Business Not Have Documents On File?

Sometimes businesses choose not to incorporate. This is particularly common when individuals operate a business by themselves and are considered a “sole proprietorship.” Since sole proprietorships are not considered separate legal entities, it is not necessary for them to file notification of their formation with the Secretary of State.

Additionally, sometimes businesses do not incorporate in the state where the do business or maintain their principal offices. In the United States, businesses are permitted to incorporate in other states if they believe the laws of that state are advantageous to the business. Therefore, if a business is located in Florida, it should not necessarily be assumed that the business is not incorporated just because there is no record on file with the Florida Secretary of State. When searching the other states for documents of incorporation, the State of Delaware is a good place to start, since Delaware is highly favored as a state of incorporation and many businesses elect to incorporate there to take advantage of Delaware’s business laws.

How Can I Search for Records Maintained by the Florida Secretary of State?

If you know that a business is incorporated in the State of Florida, this documentation may be viewed online. The Florida Secretary of State’s website may be found at: www.dos.state.fl.us.

From the website homepage, searchers may select “Corporations” to be taken to the Division of Corporations page. From this page, select “Corporate Information and Online Filing.” Then, on the left of the page, click on the link marked “Online Searches and Document Images.”

To search for corporations and similar entities, or to look for a trademark registered in Florida, from the Online Searches and Document Images, select “Corporations, Trademarks, Limited Partnerships & Limited Liability Companies.” This will take you to a page entitled “Corporate/LP/LLC Inquiry.” You will be presented with a selection of search methods, including searching by corporate name, the name of an officer or registered agent, a trademark name, a trademark owner name, an FEI number or a document number. After selecting one of these methods, you may enter your search criteria and view the list of results. After receiving your results, you may select one of the items on the list to view additional information, including the name of the entity, the address, the document number and FEI number, the date filed, the status, the last document filed, the registered agent, information about officers and directors, and the annual reports filed for that corporation. You will also be presented with the option of clicking on links to view the events or name history. Finally, at the bottom of the report, a list of documents available for online viewing will be presented. You can perform a similar search for limited liability and general partnerships by first choosing that option from the Online Searches and Document Images page.

To search for lien information excluding UCC filings, select that option from the Online Searches and Document Images page, and then search by debtor name or document number.

The Florida Secretary of State has delegated the maintenance of UCC filings to a private organization. To search for UCC filings, go to the website www.floridaucc.com. Once there, you will need to review the terms and conditions of the website and click “I Accept” before you will be permitted to perform a search. Then you will be taken to a page where you can search the UCC forms by debtor information or by document number.

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