California Corporation Search

Learn how to perform a California corporation search to research Californian businesses or search business names. Includes frequently asked questions.

Updated on October 30th, 2019

The SMB Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Conducting a corporation search in California will provide additional information on the status of a Californian LLC, as well as information on the registered agent and the current standing of the company. You can also conduct a business name search to check if the name you want to use for your business is available and has not been used by a different company.

This type of search provides you with information about corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and limited partnerships (LPs).

Step 1:

Go to the California Secretary of State webpage and select the search type you want to use: Corporation Name, LP/LLC Name, or Entity Number.

Step 2:

Enter the entity name or number in the Search Criteria box.

Tip: If you are searching for a corporation by entity number, you must enter the letter "C" followed by the 7 digit entity number. If you are searching for an LP or LLC by entity number, you only need to enter the 12 digit entity number.

Step 3:

Select the Search Filter you want to use. In this option, you can select "Exact" to search for the exact name of the entity, or you can select "Begins With" to search for all options that begin with the first word or two of the entity's name, including entities that have additional words in the name. Once you have selected the appropriate search filter, click on "Search."

Step 4:

On the results page, you will see a list of the entities that match your search with the business's number, date filed, status, name, and registered agent. Choose the entity you wish to view by clicking on the black bold link.

Step 5:

You can now view the details of the entity you are researching, which includes (but is not limited to) the entity's name, number, date of filing, status, state of formation, principal office address, and registered agent, as well as the registered agent's address.

All LLCs and corporations in California must have unique names. In order to check that the name you want to use is available, you can conduct a business name search.

Step 1:

You can use the California Secretary of State's Business Search page to check if there are any businesses with the name you want to use. However, this search option is not meant to serve as a formal name search, but as a preliminary search option only.

Step 2:

As a corporation's name may not be the same or too similar to any existing Californian corporation, it is best if you check that the name you wish to use is available. To do so, you can mail a completed Name Availability Inquiry Letter to the California Secretary of State's office in Sacramento. You can find a PDF copy of this letter here.

Step 3:

You can reserve a name for 60 days by completing and mailing a Name Reservation Request Form. All fees and instructions are listed on the form, which you can find here.

Step 4:

You will need to review California's business naming rules to ensure that your chosen name will be approved. You can find a detailed list of these rules and regulations here.

Learn more about how to name a business.

FAQs:

What is my California corporation number?

A corporation number is a 7 digit number, beginning with "C", that is assigned to a business entity by the California Secretary of State at the time of registration. A limited liability corporation and a limited partnership will be assigned a 12 digit entity number with no letters at the beginning.

How do I find out who owns a business in California?

You can perform a business entity search by going to the California Secretary of State's webpage. Read here to find out more about performing a business search.

What does FTB suspended mean in California?

A designation of SOS/FTB suspended means that the business entity has been suspended by the California Secretary of State for a variety of reasons, including failure to file certain documents or failure to meet certain tax requirements.

How do I find my California entity ID?

Your business entity number would have been assigned to you when you registered your business with the California Secretary of State. You will either have a 7 digit corporation number beginning with a "C" or a 12 digit entity number. If you cannot find your original application form, you can contact the office of the Secretary of State, or perform a business search on their website.

How do I look up a DBA in California?

A DBA, or Doing Business As, is referred to as a fictitious business name in California and is used by businesses that operate under names other than that of the owner. In order to look up a fictitious business name, you can download the Name Availability Inquiry Letter from the California Secretary of State's website and mail it to their office in Sacramento.