There are different reasons which could drive you to do a business search for California businesses:

  • Simple, information-gathering purposes
  • Seeking out information for a specific service that a company might offer
  • Finding information on whether a company is active or not
  • Checking information on potential competitors

Depending on either case, doing a California business entity search is definitely your best bet for getting information on the companies you’re looking for. And no, we’re not talking about picking up a thick Yellow Pages and spending hours and hours on turning the pages to find the name of a company or entity and their information.

There’s an easier way…

And it’s called doing a State of California business search, which you can carry out using the Secretary of State website. If you go on the California Secretary of State website, you will find a section which says “Business Entities.” This is where the game starts! You can use the California state Business Search to check out any Limited Liability Company and its information. And the best thing is, it’s a free service!

Here’s basically how you do a Secretary of State California business search:

When you go the Business Search page, you should see a section which gives you the option to search for Limited Liability Company or Limited Partnership names. When you click on that, you can start your search by either punching in:

  • The name of the entity
  • The number of the entity

If an LLC is registered in California, it gets a 12-digit code, which is the number for that entity. It should be easily searchable if you have that. You just need to keep in mind to include C with the entity number, if you’re searching for a corporation. For example, if the entity number is 1234567, you need to search C1234567 to get results. Otherwise, your CA business search will end up empty.

Here are some things to keep in mind when doing a California SOS business search:

  • Spacing matters: that means even a single space between the letters of a name can produce different results.
  • Numbers matter: some companies use Roman numerals as a numbers, whereas the database might register those numerals as letters of the alphabet.
  • Punctuation matters: Commas, periods, dashes…these can all produce different search results.
  • Keyword length matters: If you’re searching using a keyword, you need to make sure that the keyword does not exceed 12 letters. If it does, the remaining letters will be ignored.
  • Simplicity matters: If you use a single word, for example ‘white,’ in the query, it will bring you a wide list of every business in CA which includes the word ‘white’ in its business entity name.
  • Common words don’t matter: Using common words during your California business entity search will not affect the search results, because common words like corporation, LLC, &, the, of, partnership, and similar words will be ignored by the database.
  • Capitalization doesn’t matter: all letters in the search query are treated as uppercase.

Tired of getting long lists from your CA state business search? Don’t worry! You can narrow the search even more!

  • Use keywords that are more distinct rather than common.
  • Use “exact” names. If you know the exact name of the company you want to do an entity business CA search on (including spacing and punctuation), punch it in to get the information you need. Just keep in mind that even a single space might change the search results.
  • Search using the first word of the company, if you remember it! This is called a “Begins With” search. It sounds like a board game, but it actually works if you know the first name!
  • Go for more than one keyword. If you search multiple keywords, you’ll get a list of all the businesses in California that contain all of the keywords you’ve searched. If a word is not attached to an entity, you might get zero records.

The California Secretary of State has even more search tips on its website, under the Business Search – Search Tips tab which you can click on and refer to.

Concerning Results

The California Secretary of State has a disclaimer on its website, and for good reason. The disclaimer reads that even though the Secretary of State has tried to uphold the accuracy of the information which is presented as the result of business search CA, “the Secretary of State’s office is not responsible for any loss, consequence, or damage resulting directly or indirectly from reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of the information that is provided.” We think that’s a pretty fair deal!

Sometimes, your entity business search in California keeps turning empty results and zero information. You might want to check the second disclaimer on the California Secretary of State website regarding the search tool which many use to conduct Cal business search.

It states that this tool does separates corporations from limited liability partnerships and limited partnerships. What this means is that other California business entities such as limited liability partnerships and general partnerships are excluded from this database.

Maybe your California business entity search came up empty because the company or business entity number you were looking for belonged to a type of entity which is excluded from the California Secretary of State search database. Always make sure what business entity you’re searching for before blaming the California Secretary of State for not helping you with your business entity search in this state or not having enough information!

Still drawing a blank?

If your business search California is still drawing a blank and you can’t find the entity information you’re looking for, you can send a letter of the California Secretary of State offices at this address:

California Secretary of State, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, state of CA 95814

You can also call them via this phone number for more general information: (916) 653-6814

If you’re going to send a letter to that address, make sure you include the division or program name as a reference, if you are aware of it. It’ll ensure that your inquiry gets to the right section of the Secretary of State and they will have an easier time with providing the information you need from them regarding any business, California-bound.

If you need more help with your California business entity search, have questions on how to form a corporation, or want to set up your own business entity in the state of California (and any other state), click here to get more information from our professionals on how you can set up your business entity, and much more!