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How to Find Business Records in Minnesota

Searching for Business Records in Minnesota

The Minnesota Secretary of State is responsible for maintaining certain business records, including the formation of corporations and documentation of security interests. Much of this information is available online. Here are a few tips to search for business information in Minnesota.

What Records Are Maintained by the Minnesota Secretary of State?

When a corporation is formed, certain documentation must be filed with the Secretary of State giving notice of the new entity. This information is maintained by the Minnesota Secretary of State for public viewing, and some of the information is available online for free. Additional information may be obtained for a small fee.

Additionally, sometimes businesses file UCC, or Uniform Commercial Code, statements, demonstrating security interest in collateral. The Minnesota Secretary of State makes this information available online for free only if you already know the file number for which to search. A search by debtor name is available, but searchers must first obtain a subscription in order to perform the search.

Why Would a Business Not Have Documents On File?

It may be that a business has not incorporated or had cause to file a UCC filing. If this is the case, there may be no documentation available for viewing.

Additionally, not all businesses located in Minnesota elect to incorporate in the State of Minnesota. In the United States, businesses often elect to incorporate in states other than their home state in order to take advantage of the laws of that state. For that reason, even if there is no record indicating that a business has not incorporated in Minnesota, it should not be assumed that the business has not incorporated at all.

How Can I Search for Records Maintained by the Minnesota Secretary of State?

The business records maintained by the State of Minnesota are available both in person and online. The business counter for the Minnesota Secretary of State is located at 60 Empire Drive, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55103.

To search for Minnesota information online, begin by visiting the website of the Minnesota Secretary of State, located here: http://www.sos.state.mn.us/home/index.asp. From this page, click on the “Online Services” option at the top of the page. Under the heading “Search,” the page provides several options for free searches, including “Name Availability,” “Registered Office/Corporate File,” “Corporate by File Number,” and “UCC by File Number.” It also lists options to search for UCC and lien information by debtor number and to search for more detailed information about corporations, for a fee.

To search for name availability, click on the “Name Availability” option from the Online Services page. This search is designed to assist new business owners who wish to make sure that a desired business name is not already taken before using the name. (However, to be certain, the Secretary of State’s website advises business owners not to use a new name until after the business owner has received confirmation that the business owner’s new business name has been filed). After clicking on “Name Availability,” you will be taken to a page where you can enter the desired business name into a search window and click “Search.” This search will not only return a list of identical names, but will return a list of names with similar beginnings so that the searcher may view similar names as well. The results list will include the ID number of the organization, the organization name, the entity type, the city and state. The ID numbers are clickable links which will lead to a page providing some additional information, including the original date of filing, the expiration date, the entity status, and the address. This page will also include a button marked “Additional Entity Detail.” This button will open a small new window providing information on the way to subscribe in order to receive the additional detailed information as well as the fee required to do so. At the time of the writing of this article, that fee is $4.00.

To search for information about a corporation or other registered business, from the Online Services page select the option “Registered Office/Corporate File.” This will take searchers to a slightly different search page than the Name Availability search, but the method of search is the same. After entering the name of the organization searched for, results matching the search term as well as results with similar word beginnings will be returned in a list including the ID number, name, entity type, city and state. Clicking on the ID numbers will lead to the same additional information as in the Name Availability search, and finding greater detail still will require a subscription and small fee.

If you already know the file number of a corporate filing and wish to search by corporate file number, from the Online Services page select the “Corporate File Number” option. This will take you to a page including the formation date, name and address of the business entity, date of expiration and entity status.

If you already know the file number of the UCC filing you wish to view, from the Online Services page select “UCC by File Number.” Inputting the UCC filing number, you will be taken to a page displaying additional information including the identities of the debtor and secured party, the name of the document for which the filing number was entered as well as related documents and those documents’ filing numbers, the date the documents were filed, the number of pages filed, and the date of lapse, if any.

If you do not know a UCC filing number and wish to search by debtor name, this will require a subscription. To learn about obtaining a subscription, you can click on the “UCC or Tax Lien Debtor Name” option on the online services page, which will take you to a page including a link marked “request for subscription.” Only after obtaining a subscription can you search for UCC or lien information by debtor name.

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