California Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Looking for a full guide to California business entity search? Look no further! In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know when performing a business entity search on the California Secretary of State’s website. Through the business search, you can research corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and limited partnerships (LPs), and get access to available information, as well as free PDF copies of imaged documents for business entities of record with the California SoS.

California Business Entity Search

You can search by corporation name, LP/LLC name, or entity number. The entity number is the ID number that each of the business entities got when it was formed, registered, converted, or qualified in California.

We'll give you a rundown of the complete business entity search process, to make it easier for you to verify whether the selected name is available for registration in California or not. You should also search for companies with similar names, as you probably don't want your future company to be mistaken for another one.

Let's dive right into it!

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California Business Entity Search – Search Tips

We’ll start with a few search tips to help you get the best possible search results and save you the time you’d otherwise spend searching through irrelevant search results!

When Searching by Corporation Name or LP/LLC Name

When you select Corporation Name or LP/LLC Name for your search type, you’ll be able to select the search filter – keyword, exact, or begins with. 

Before you start your business entity search, you should know that:

  • the search isn’t case sensitive (all letters are treated as uppercase)
  • the spacing matters (you should enter the spaces that are part of the name and you shouldn’t add spaces that aren’t)
  • the length of the keyword is limited to 12 characters (if you enter a keyword that's longer, the search will give you the results only for the first 12 characters)
  • the search will remove the punctuation [. , ‘ ” \ / ( )] and group together letters and/or numbers you entered right before or after that punctuation.

If you want to get more expanded results, you should search for a single keyword, while for more limited results, you should enter multiple keywords. If the search result is too wide, you can narrow it by entering additional keywords to a search box above the search results.

When searching for an exact match, you should enter the exact name of the business entity. You must include all spaces and punctuation at their exact places, otherwise, you'll get no search results.

When Searching by Entity Number

When you select Entity Number for your search type, you’ll be looking for the exact match of the search criteria you entered in the search box.

When searching for a corporation, you must enter the letter C before the applicable seven-digit number. When searching for LP or LLC, enter only the applicable 12-digit number. If you omit the letter C when searching for a corporation, or enter the entity number that doesn't belong to a corporation, LP, or LLC, you'll get the following message “Please enter a valid entity number”.

Now when you know all this, we can start the search process!

Business Entity Search by Corporation Name or LP/LLC Name

First, go to the California Secretary of State’s website, and open the Business Search.

Step 1

Select your search type, depending on whether you’re looking for a corporation or LP/LLC. Enter your search criteria to the search bar, and adjust the search filter on the right. Click on the Search button below.

Step 2

You’ll get a list with all the entity records that match your search type, search criteria, and search filter. From here, you'll be able to see not only the entity name but entity number, date of the registration, status, jurisdiction, and agent for service of process. To get additional information, click on the entity name.

Step 3

Once you click on the entity name, you'll be able to see the entity type, entity address, and mailing address, as well as free PDF copies of available imaged documents.

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Business Entity Search by Entity Number

We’ll perform the California business entity search by entity number through the same Business Search on California Secretary of State’s website we used for the search by corporation, LP or LLC name.

Step 1

Select the Entity Number as your search type and enter the search criteria to the search box below. The search filter will automatically change to the exact match. Click Search.

Step 2

There’ll be either one or none search results, depending on whether the entity number you’ve searched for belongs to a business entity in California or not.

Step 3

 The search results will show you all key information about a business entity just like when we were searching by entity name. For additional information and free PDF copies of available imaged documents, click on the entity name.

California Business Entity Search

The California business entity search is a simple but important step when thinking about forming a new business in California. Once you start thinking about forming a new company, you’ll think about the name your future company will hold. And it’s important that you make sure the name you’ve selected for your company is available.

Moreover, California business entity search will not only help you find out if there are other companies with the exact or similar names but will also give you access to available information, as well as free PDF copies of imaged documents for business entities of record with the California SoS. From the search results, you'll be able to see the entity number, date of the registration, type, status, mailing address, and agent for service of process.

If thinking about forming a new business entity, you should also know that you don’t have to go through the process all by yourself. You can hire a professional LLC formation service, such as ZenBusiness, and they’ll do everything for you!

Cite/Link to This Article

  • Stewart, Suzy. "California Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)". One Brick Court. Accessed on June 20, 2021. https://onebrickcourt.com/california-business-entity-search/.

  • Stewart, Suzy. "California Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)". One Brick Court, https://onebrickcourt.com/california-business-entity-search/. Accessed 20 June, 2021.

  • Stewart, Suzy. California Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide). One Brick Court. Retrieved from https://onebrickcourt.com/california-business-entity-search/.