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California Business Search

How to Start an LLC

In order to form an LLC in California, there are several requirements you must complete. This includes paying the state filing fee, drafting an operating agreement, and creating a tax plan. You must also ensure you are prepared to file an annual report each year. Before you do any of this, though, you also must select a unique name for your LLC, which requires that you conduct a business search in order to make sure your preferred name is not already in use.

Business searches don’t just reveal the name of a company, though. They can also reveal information about the LLC’s members such as their contact information and where they live. Many who value their privacy will opt for an anonymous LLC for this reason. In this article we’ll cover the benefits of conducting a business search and how to keep your information private.

What is an LLC?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business structure in the United States whereby the owners are not personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities. Limited liability companies are hybrid entities that combine the characteristics of a corporation with those of a partnership or sole proprietorship.

How to perform a business search in California?

In California, you can search for an LLC easily. This search is also available for other business structures, including corporations and limited partnerships. Corporations are similar to LLCs but are owned by shareholders rather than individuals. In limited partnerships (LP), only some partners can invest in the business, sharing the profits and losses, but they cannot manage the day-to-day operations of the LP. This is compared to an LLC where the members can oversee the company's daily operations as long as the business is member-managed and does not have appointed managers.

You can receive complimentary PDF copies of millions of business entity documents through the secretary of state site, including the most up-to-date, imaged Statements of Information.

This business search is a way to contact a business or find out other information you need. You may also desire to search for a company to confirm what information you have. You can even look up your business to see what is available to the public. It's also a great way to determine whether your desired business name while filing for one is already taken and, therefore, unavailable.

In California, it is more difficult to obtain the information for limited liability partnerships (such as law firms, architecture firms, public accountancy firms, etc.), General Partnerships, and other entity types not previously mentioned such as LLCs, corporations, and limited partnerships. If you would like to inquire more about a business entity under that is an limited liability partnership or a general partnership, you will need to submit a business entities order paper form to request copies of any files for this entity.

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How to Search for an LLC?

In California, you can go to the secretary of state site and look up various business entities. Use the link below to search for a business in California.


The basic search performs a "contains keyword" search. You can perform a basic search simply with the company name or number. Make sure to remove "C" from your entity number when searching for a company. A basic search only allows you to see active entities. This includes LLCs, limited partnerships, corporations, cooperatives, name reservations (domestic and foreign), unincorporated common interest developments, and out-of-state associations. The information available on the site is updated as documents are approved. You will need to sign up for an account through the secretary of state's website to access the data.

In California, you can also perform an advanced search. You need to use this advanced search feature when you want to search entities that aren't active or to refine search criteria. There is the additional search filter of "starts with" that you can use. You can add the initial filing date, time frame, entity type, and status to refine your results further.

Note*** that the search results are limited to the 500 entities that match the entered search criteria the closest. You may need to refine your basic search or use the advanced search option for different results.

  • The information provided is NOT complete or certified. If you want to order certified copies or certificates you need to follow the below steps:
    • Find the business entity through the search
    • Select "request certificate" in the right-hand detail drawer
    • Complete the request online

Reasons to Search for an LLC?

There are many reasons you may want to look up information about an LLC or any business type. The following are some examples.

  • Want to file a lawsuit against an LLC. You can contact the agent to notify the company.
  • Learn more about an LLC, including any of the information listed below.
  • Find out ownership of an LLC
  • Searching for Name availability for Your LLC. Confirming whether your desired LLC name is already taken can help prevent rejection and additional filings for your LLC.
  • Perform administrative tasks for your company.
  • Confirm whether your LLC is formed officially with the secretary of state

What information is available through the search?

Information that is available through the California business search includes the following:

  • Full legal name of the company
  • Certificate of good standing and whether the LLC is active or inactive
    • The certificate of good standing is provided to businesses that have filed all their required reports and paid their fees.
  • The registered agent and their address
  • The jurisdiction that the entity was formed in
  • The entity type
  • The initial filing date
  • The principal and mailing addresses of the business
  • The managers or members listed in the filing

How to Keep Your LLC information Private?

If you search and find out your information is listed, there is a way to prevent the public from viewing your information. Anonymous LLCs are an excellent alternative for more privacy. However, California does require you to list the members and their information. It is recommended you consult a business law firm for assistance as you may be able to form your business first in a state that allows you to withhold your information and thereby file for an anonymous LLC. Then you can provide this information when filing for an LLC in California.