Searching for Business Records in Alabama
Many of the records filed by businesses are matters of public record.
What this means is that any private citizen is entitled to see these
records and make copies of them. The Secretary of State for the State of
Alabama is responsible for maintaining these records.
What Records Are Maintained by the Alabama Secretary of State?
There are several different forms a business may take that will be
recognized as a separate legal entity, the most common of which is a
corporation. Corporations must file evidence of their formation with the
Alabama Secretary of State (or the Secretary of State of a different
state) to give notice of their corporate entity status.
Additionally, a business may have caused to file Uniform Commercial
Code, or UCC, forms. These documents are evidence of someone’s lien in
someone else’s collateral,
Usually given in exchange for a loan or other value. The Alabama
Secretary of State maintains documentation of these interests.
Why Would a Business Not Have Documents On File?
Not all businesses elect to incorporate. When an individual operates a
private business by themselves, this business may be classified as a
sole proprietorship, and the individual may not choose to incorporate
Additionally, sometimes businesses do not choose to be incorporated, but
still choose a special business name to be known by, called as a trade
name. Therefore, just because a business has a special name, it should
not be assumed that the business is incorporated.
For this reason, if a searcher is unable to locate documents for a
particular business name and cannot find such documents on file with the
Alabama Secretary of State, it is possible that this business has not
incorporated and is not required to file any documents with the Alabama
Secretary of State.
Additionally, it is possible that the business in question has
incorporated in a different state. Oftentimes, even if a business
maintains corporate offices in one state and operates in that state, the
business will choose to incorporate elsewhere. Why? Sometimes business
founders believe that the corporate laws of a different state will prove
more advantageous to their business, so they decide to file their
corporate formation documents with the Secretary of State with another
state. If this is the case, there is no short-cut way to search all of
the business records in all fifty states to determine where a
corporation has filed its corporate formation documents. However, it
should be noted that it is commonly believed by many business owners
that the laws of the State of Delaware are the most advantageous for
businesses, and many businesses elect to incorporate in Delaware instead
of any other state. For this reason, if you are attempting to determine
in which state a corporation has incorporated, Delaware would be a best
guess to try first.
How Can I Search for Records Maintained by the Alabama Secretary of
If a business is incorporated in the State of Alabama, the Alabama
Secretary of State will have documents on file recording the
corporation’s formation. If you wish to view the documents in person,
the Corporations Division of the Alabama Secretary of State’s office is
located in Room 207 of the Alabama State House Building, 11 South Union
Street, Montgomery, Alabama.
For searchers interested in locating corporate information online, the
Alabama Secretary of State’s website is located here:
www.sos.state.al.us. From the home page, you can select the button
marked “Inquiry System” from the selections on the left side of the
From the Inquiry System page, you can select a number of options from a
drop-down menu, including “Corporations.” Choosing this option will take
searchers to another page where they can elect to search by “active
names” (names of corporations that have maintained their corporate
status), “active and inactive names” (both names of active corporations
and corporations whose corporate status has been cancelled), both active
and inactive corporations by a word search, and a search of agents,
officers and incorporators of corporations. Choosing one of these
options will take searchers to a screen where they may input words or
names for which to search. The results will be returned in list form,
with names in blue. These names are all links which may be clicked for
additional information, including the legal name of incorporation, the
county in which it was incorporated, the date of incorporation, the
principal address, and the names of the individuals who incorporated the
If a searcher instead wishes to search for UCC filings, they may select
the “UCC” option from the “Inquiry Systems” page. This will take
searchers to a page where they can select to search by debtor’s name or
by filing number. If you do not have the specific filing number,
searching by the debtor’s name will return a list of UCC filings for
that name. Each name in the list is a clickable link that will take you
to a page containing more information about that particular filing,
including the filing date, the expiration date, the file number, whether
or not the filing is active, and the identity of the secured party.
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