How to Look Up Articles of Incorporation

By Christopher Raines

Articles of incorporation identify the organizers and initial directors, main office location, a corporation's expected life span and where to send lawsuits and other official documents. Its significance extends beyond shielding the corporation's owners from personal liability. You can learn valuable information if you're investigating or conducting a background check on a corporation or its owners in connection with a business relationship, a legal matter or research project.

Where to Look

In most states, you search for articles of incorporation online through the secretary of state, corporations or business services office. In New Jersey, the Department of Treasury keeps articles. Unless you know the exact name, enter the first word or two in a corporation's name. To save time, don't limit your search to commonly used terms such as "The," the name of a state, a product such as "car" and the abbreviations "Co." and "Inc."

Paying For Articles

For corporations in states such as California, New Jersey and Illinois, you are charged for non-certified and certified copies, or those verified by the filing office as authentic. States such as Florida, Indiana and North Carolina make most corporations' articles available for free download, but even in these states, you'll pay if you need a certified copy or the articles are not available online.

About the Author

Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.