Missouri Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
Irrespective of whether you want to obtain information on a business in the state or you need to check the availability of a specific name before initiating the business registration process, it all starts with a Missouri business name search.
There are a number of different search criteria that you can use to filter the online database for registered businesses in the state, and the business database is completely free of charge.
The online database allows you to search for various business types, including corporations and limited liability companies. The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a Missouri business entity search.
Missouri search tips
When searching for a Missouri-based business, the following guidelines will help get you the best results:
- There’s no need to enter punctuation marks and special characters as these are ignored during the search
- For the broadest results, enter only the first word or two of the name, even if the name has multiple words
- You may also enter just the first few letters of the name to broaden your results
- Upper and lowercase are irrelevant as it is not considered when searching business names
- Narrow down your results even further by choosing the following options from the drop-down menu:
- Starting with (starts with)
- All words
- Any word
- Exact match
The Missouri Secretary of State’s business entity search page allows you to lookup businesses using the following search types:
- Business name
- Registered Agent
- Charter no.
- Name availability
Business search by name
Refer to the Missouri SOS Business Services Division webpage to begin your entity search.
Enter the business name
To begin your Missouri business entity search by name, simply navigate to the Secretary of State’s business entity search webpage.
Thereafter, enter the name of the business you are looking up.
To narrow down your search even further, you may select the option that says “Include names” drop down the box, and select from one of the following options:
- Starting with
- All words
- Any word
- Exact match
You may also choose to tick the box that says, “Only active corporations,” and then click on “Search.
Review the results
If there are names registered in the state of Missouri that start with or contain the keywords you entered, they will appear in the table on this page; you may view a few of the businesses details, including:
- Business name
- Charter no.
- Registered agent name
Review additional business information
If you’d like to view even further information on any business entity, simply click on the name of the business, and it will open up the business summary page.
On the business summary page, you’ll have access to general business information, filings, the principal office address, and contact details.
Additional search options
The additional search criteria allow you to search via a registered agent. When searching for the registered agent, you need to enter the last name and first name of the agent and also select whether the agent is an individual or an organization.
Thereafter, you can refine your search by selecting the drop-down box under “Include names” and selecting the relevant criteria.
When it comes to searching via charter number, you’ll need to enter the charter number into the search bar and then click on the “Search” button.
If you entered the correct charter number, there should only be one matching result in the table.
With both the search via the registered agent and charter number, you’ll have access to all of the previous business information as you did during the entity search by name option.
Name availability search
The Secretary of State’s office also offers a Name Availability Search. The corporate name availability search allows you to type in the name of any business to determine whether or not that name is available for business registration.
If the name or keyword that you entered is available for use, then you’ll see a message that says, “No records to display.”
Alternatively, if there are matching businesses with the name you entered, it will be displayed in the table as it did with the search by business name.
The search results give you an idea of how many businesses are registered with your desired name, and you may also be used to spark your creativity and come up with a completely unique and distinguishable name for your business.
Missouri search results
The information you’ll have access to during your Missouri business name search, irrespective of the search type you used, includes:
- Business name
- Charter no.
- Registered agent name
- Date performed
- Home state
Additionally, when clicking on the “Filings tab,” you’ll have access to the business documents that the entity has filed.
When clicking on the “Principal office address” tab, it will bring up the principal office address supplied by that specific entity.
You may also click on “Contacts” and see if the entity has supplied any contact information.
Additionally, while on the same business summary page, you have the option to:
- Order copies and certificates
- Request recission packet
- File Online
Copies of documents and certificates
After completing your business name search, you may want to request copies of business documents. Business documents are available in plain copies and certified copies.
Certified copies are accompanied by a stamp, endorsement, or certificate from the Secretary of State confirming that they are, in fact, true and correct copies of the documents on file with the state’s office.
A certified copy of business documents is important when it comes to obtaining a business bank account and applying for loans and credit from financial institutions.
The most frequently requested documents include:
- Articles of formation
- Certificate of Authority
- Articles of amendment
- A fictitious name or DBA registration
- Annual filings, such as annual reports
- Dissolution and withdrawals
Business documents can only be obtained from the Secretary of State using the contact information below:
Office of Secretary of State
Administrative Rules Division
PO Box 1767
Jefferson City, MO 65102
(573) 751-4015 (Voice)
(573) 751-3032 (Fax)
(800) 735-2966 (TDD)
Business name availability
Even after conducting a name search on the Department of State’s website, there’s no guarantee that your desired name will indeed be available at the time of business registration.
Some of the reasons for this is that another company could trademark the name in the state or out of the state. To determine whether or not your desired name is trademarked, you need to conduct a trademark search.
The trademark search may be performed in two ways. The first option is to conduct a trademark search on the state’s website to determine whether or not the trademark is registered at the state level. If the name is indeed available, it will not come up in your search results.
Next, if the name is not trademarked in the state, it could still be trademarked on the federal level, and to determine this, you need to conduct a trademark search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website. Registering a trademark on the federal level gives your name nationwide protection.
The search is also quite useful in avoiding legal opposition as well as objections and rejections that may arise during registration if another business entity has already trademarked the name.
Additionally, even if the name is not trademarked on the state or federal level, it could still be reserved by the business that’s planning to initiate the business registration process in the coming months. This is why you need to conduct a name search on the Missouri Secretary of State’s Online Business Filing page.
If the name does not show up on the search records, then it’s probably available for business registration. In the event that you’re not ready to start the process immediately, you may also reserve the name with the Secretary of State’s office for registration at a later date.
In order to do this, you need to complete the Application Form for Name Reservation and include the following information:
- Name you want to have reserved
- Applicant’s name and address
- Applicant’s signature and return address
Name reservation in Missouri will cost you $25, and checks need to be made payable to the Secretary of State. After completing the form, you may send it to the following address:
P.O. Box 778 / 600 W. Main St.,
Rm. 322 Jefferson City,
Names reservations are valid for approximately 60 days. If you need additional time, you may reserve the name for a total of 180 days.
Additionally, Missouri does have naming guidelines that you need to follow, such as:
- Your business name should contain a designation such as corporation, company, limited, Inc., LLC, etc.
- Your name must be significantly different from existing businesses registered in the state, including reserved names
- Your name must not include words that may confuse the public or imply that your company is affiliated with a government agency
- The name must not imply that your company is organized for illegal purposes
For complete naming rules, refer to the Missouri state statute.
Finally, the ultimate way to determine business name availability is to reach out to the Missouri Secretary of State via their contact number at (573) 751-4936 for a preliminary name availability screening.
Domain name availability
Domain names are just as important as business names. Additionally, it’s an easier way for customers to find your business online.
Additionally, a domain name comes with various other advantages such as:
- Professional Credibility
- Brand visibility
- Online presence
- Modern marketing
- Being able to keep up with your competitors
- More cost-effective than printing flyers and catalogs
One of the best ways to determine whether the domain name is indeed available is to do a search on professional sites like Namechk.com.
Namechk.com provides a professional service that checks your domain name across 36 different platforms and over 100 social media websites.
Some of the most popular social networks that it will check your domain name against:
Additionally, Namechk.com helps to filter your search options and offers suggestions in the event that your selected name is not available.
Fictitious business name search
You may also be considering conducting business under various other names aside from your legal business entity name. In this case, it is unlawful to conduct business under any other name aside from your legal name unless you’ve registered a DBA with the state.
A DBA is also known as a “doing business as” name, assumed, fictitious or trade name. Additionally, fictitious names are registered so that potential customers can identify your business even when you’re not transacting under your legal business name.
Assume names are also quite helpful for corporations and limited liability companies when it comes to launching new products and services. Essentially, if you already have an established business, but you’d like to branch out and create another similar business, but you don’t want to trade your new business under the existing business name, then assumed names will be very helpful.
Ultimately, it simplifies the process by ensuring that you don’t need to form an entirely new business entity, but you can still operate legally. So you can register the DBA and use it for your new adventure.
Filing a DBA in Missouri starts with conducting a name search on the Secretary of State’s website. This helps to determine whether or not the name is already in use.
Additionally, conduct a trademark search to make sure that the name is not being used as a trademark by another entity either within the state or nationwide.
Also, ensure that you stick to the Missouri naming requirements when deciding on a DBA. The online option requires that you visit the Missouri Secretary of State’s Online Business Portal and file the application electronically.
When submitting via mail, you’ll need to download and complete the Registration of Fictitious Name Form and have it mailed to this address:
P.O. Box 778,
When completing the form, ensure that you put the name to be registered, the applicant’s name and address, the business address, as well as the business’s charter number. Lastly, DBAs cost $7, and you’ll need to send the filing fee along with your form.
How do I order a Certificate of Good Standing?
Using two options, you may obtain a Certificate of Good Standing from the Missouri Secretary of State. However, you must keep your business compliant, be it a limited liability company or corporation, to receive the certificate. You can order your Certificate of Good Standing online or via mail. The filing fee is $10.
What does a registered agent do?
A registered agent who also goes by the name of resident, statutory, or service of process agent is responsible for receiving legal correspondence on your organization’s behalf. This includes tax, legal, and government correspondence from the state.
Is it better to form for-profit corporations or nonprofits?
It all depends on what your goals are. For-profits generate and distribute profits to owners, shareholders, and members. Nonprofits put those earnings back into the organization to further the cause, which may be to provide a service to the public or a disadvantaged group in the community.
What is the purpose of the Uniform Commercial Code?
The purpose of a Uniform Commercial Code, also known as UCC, is to regulate business activities and ensure that they are consistent across all states. The UCC applies to contracts for the sale of goods to a merchant and by a merchant.
Is a limited liability company (LLC) better than a limited liability partnership(LLP)?
Both limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships have an equal amount of pros and cons. Additionally, it could be quite costly to change the structure of the business once you’ve made the state filings. However, if your primary concern is tax liability or limited liability, then an LLC would prove to be the better option.
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