California’s Secretary Of State Business Search – Recent Upgrades

California’s Secretary of State business search web page – New and truly improved

A tip of my reference cap to the California’s Secretary of State (SOS) office for the changes made last month to the Business Search web page.

We, here at Alameda County Law Library, use the site regularly, helping pro pers locate the names and addresses of agents for service of process for companies licensed to do business in California.  Other information that can be found includes: jurisdiction of incorporation, type of business entity, and a state entity number.

The web page now presents the search boxes and results in a reader-friendly format – clean and well designed.

SOS’s search screen’s new look

search-screen-january-2017

Search results improvements include:

  • A searcher can increase the number of entity entries displayed on the results list –  cutting down the need to scroll through page after page.  (Up to 100 items displayed.)
  • Search capabilities now include a box to narrow search results.  See below.
  • You can restructure your search results list in order by:
    • date of registration
    • status (active, dissolved, merged out etc.)
    • jurisdiction of incorporation

For recent filings, the SOS is now providing direct access to PDFs of filing statements.

Here are some images illustrating some of the new results options for researching California registered businesses –

Narrowing search results

When a searcher wants to narrow results, he or she can enter a term in the box at the right.  The entire list of results is included in the “narrowing” search, not just the entries displayed on the screen.  This can be used to reduce an extensive results list (for a common keyword such as “McDonald’s”) to a manageable number of items for review.

Below is an example of the results list containing 145 items for “McDonald’s” that has been reduced to 4 entries by narrowing the results with the term “san jose.”  Another great change is that the screen tracks the search strategy used to bring up the results.

 

narrow-search-san-jose-in-the-name

Date of registration

By using the arrows next to the column heading, a searcher can re-order the list bringing up the most recently filed record to the top of the list.  Initially results are presented in alpha order by entity name.

Below the search results for the keyword “McDonald’s” have been re-ordered by registration date chronological order.  A 2016 entry appears on top of the list.

date-of-action-image-most-current

 

Information on business and PDF of filings

The entity’s record now appears in a clean and easy to read display.  If the business entity has a recent filing, the document itself may be accessible directly from the screen.

company-info-new-format

 

Here is a view of  a filing document listed on the prior image –

 

statement-of-information-example

 

A note to the SOS staff – it would be great to be able to do an initial overall search by keyword without worrying if the business entity was formed as a corporation or a LLC/LLP.  As of now, a searcher must select a “Search Type” – possibly needing to re-run a search in a different file to find information for an individual entity.  Many of our patrons (and the tax-paying public in general) are not sophisticated in business law to know that there are different business organizational structures.  A searcher may just know a name and address.

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