What does it mean to be in “good standing?” That’s compliance-speak for state-level small business regulations, and it’s more important than you might think.
A “Certificate of Good Standing” indicates that your business has filed all reports and paid all the necessary taxes and fees with your state’s secretary of state office. Incorporate.com says to think of your good standing certificate “as a kind of ‘snapshot’ of your business’s compliance status.”
Sounds simple enough, but not only do these certificates serve as proof that your entity is legitimately authorized to transact business in the state, they can also greatly benefit your business goals down the line.
Why You Need to Check That Your Business Is in Good Standing
You should make sure your business is in “good standing” for several reasons:
Lenders want it: Many lenders require proof of good standing in order to approve financing. It’s much better to have the certificate ahead of time, as opposed to scrambling at the last minute to update your status with a state agency in the middle of loan negotiations.
It can help you expand: A Certificate of Good Standing is often required when registering to do business in other states. Many states won’t allow a company to transact business within their boundaries if the company does not have good standing in the state where it was formed. Even further, some states require that the certificate be dated within a short period of time—as little as 90 days—before filing to do business in that state.
You can avoiding state-imposed fees or penalties: Some states will charge a fee if your business is not in compliance with their regulations, which is an obvious no-brainer. But you also want to make sure your business is in good standing in order to preserve the limited liability that filing for business status provides. According to BizFilings, if it turns out your business is not in good standing, in some states that could mean the loss of protection for you and your employees conducting business outside of compliance, or even the administrative dissolution of the business altogether.
The Details You Need for Checking If You Have Good Standing with Your State
Of course, business entity laws vary among states—some require annual or biannual reporting, others are perpetual—and “Certificates of Good Standing” can be called “Certificates of Existence” or other names in various states. It’s important to remain updated on what’s required in your state.
Sites such as Incorporate.com can file for a Certificate of Good Standing on your behalf in all 50 states for various fees ranging from $50-$100 depending on your state.
However, most states have business entity search engines on their websites to check the status of your standing. To do this, you need to remember the name of your entity when it was registered with the state. If you’re having trouble, try searching for only part of the business name or use a keyword search.
See our state-by-state breakdown below to see how you can make sure you’re in good standing in your business’s home state.
This southern state offers “Certificates of Compliance” easily through the Alabama Secretary of State website. Simply click on the link to “obtain a Certificate of Compliance” and follow directions from there. Your status will then be updated online whether you’re in compliance or not—you’ll have to call the provided phone number if not.
Our northernmost state has a nifty online database of compliant businesses—you can search for your business status here. If you’ve never filed for a Certificate of Good Standing in Alaska before, you can do so online.
Businesses in Alaska are required to file biennial reports. Every two years, businesses must make note of changes to the officials on record and keep records up-to-date.
The state’s website has a portal to search for your business and find links for purchasing and printing a Certificate of Good Standing if your business qualifies.
You can search for your business status in California online here. Applying for the certificate is another ball game: “Certificates, copies, and status reports can be obtained by submitting a request to the California Secretary of State’s Sacramento office either in person (drop off) or by mail,” according to the California Secretary of State website.
Search for your business on the Colorado Secretary of State website. This will tell you the status of your standing and also lead to a link where you can request certified copies of documents and even set up a secure business filing with the SOS.
Good standing in the Nutmeg State is called a “Certificate of Legal Existence” and can be obtained online. Note that the state of Connecticut requires annual reporting by the end of your business’s anniversary month each year.
You’re in good standing in the Sunshine State if you have a “Certificate of Status.” Sunbiz.org, an official State of Florida website, provides instructions for ordering a Certificate of Status online or by mail. You can search your status on the website here.
Georgia’s “Certificates of Existence” can be checked on this website with an easy-to-follow portal: Search Business -> Review -> Payment -> Status.
Idaho offers online Certificates of Existence generated in your web browser, or official certificates delivered by mail through their website. Check your business’s standing through their Business Entity Search engine.
The search for good standing status in the state of Illinois asks you to define your business between Corporate and LLC, Corporate, or LLC. To obtain a certificate, you’ll need your business’s state of Illinois Authentication Number.
In.gov online services for corporations site has many link errors. However, you can obtain a certificate of good standing through a third-party website such as MyUSACorporation.com.
“Certificates of Standing” in Iowa can be obtained through this website, where they’ll provide an entity database and links to print your certificate if you’re eligible.
Perform a Kansas business entity search here. You can also request a Certificate of Good Standing online through the portal or by the Secretary of State’s phone or mail service.
Have you heard about the Kentucky Business One Stop Portal? Check your standing status here by searching for your organization. Remember to file an annual report with the state to preserve your good standing.
Check your Good Standing status in Louisiana here. Once you locate your business in the database, click on “Details” to view the full status. This portal will also provide links for purchasing official certificates.
Verify your business’s status online here. Annual reports are required of businesses in Maine and can be filed online. The deadline to file is June 1st.
This will lead you to the Maryland Business Express site, where you can search your businesses status as well as file for official certificates.
Make sure you in good standing with through MassTaxConnect, where the Commonwealth requires you to submit an Annual Certificate of Entity Tax Status.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs handles business compliance for the state of Michigan. Search their entity database here. To receive an official certificate, you’ll need to contact the department by mail.
Go the state’s Business Filings Online portal to search your status and order a certificate.
You’ll need to register with the Mississippi Corporations Registered Filer LogIn first. From there, you can search your business entity and obtain proper documentation.
Annual reports are required in the Treasure State and are due every April. Once you have that in order, use the Montana Business Search to check your standing. Click on the name of your business to get a link to request a certificate under “Request Entity Information.”
Nevada’s Business Portal is known as SilverFlume—search for your business here. You’ll have to register with the site to request any documents.
Register with the New Hampshire Corporate Division online to search for your business and obtain documents. The Granite State requires annual reporting as well to maintain compliance.
You can search for you entity’s status or certificates through the State of New Jersey Business Records Service. It’ll cost you $6.25 for just a status report. Note that Jersey requires annual filing!
Search for your business here—a status of “Active” doesn’t necessarily mean you are in active good standing. Click on your business name to get the full report. Remember that New Mexico requires annual reporting. You can request an official certificate online or by mail.
Good standing in New York State is called a “Certificate Under Seal.” You can search a business database on the NYS website, but it won’t tell you if you are in good standing. You will have to call the Secretary of State’s office in Albany, where they will be able to relay your status over the phone. You can reach them at (518) 473-1654—average wait time on a weekday is about 5 minutes. It’s helpful to have your DOS ID number handy, but they can also search by name.
To get a certificate, you’ll have to request a certificate by fax or mail.
Check your good standing status by searching for your business on the Secretary of State website—you will know you are in good standing if your status is “Current-Active.” There will also be a link provided to file your annual report there, if needed.
You can search for your entity’s standing status through the ND Business Records Search. If it does not say you are “Active&Good Standing” in the database, it’s likely you will need to file an annual report, for which they provide a link.
Certificates can be obtained upon request with payment of $5 (check, money order, or credit card) through various outlets:
- Calling the Secretary of State 701-328-4284 or 800-352-0867 (Ext. 328-4284)
- Fax at 701-328-2992 addressed to the Business Division
- Email email@example.com
- Mail addressed to: Business Division
Secretary of State
600 E. Boulevard Ave. Dept. 108
Bismarck ND 58505-0500
The Buckeye State has a Business Filing Portal where you search for your business to get the Charter/Registration Number you’ll need to check your status on the state’s online automated service for obtaining Certificates of Good Standing.
Good standing status can be searched on the OK Secretary of State website by searching for your entity name. From there, you can pay the $20 fee to obtain an official certificate.
Good Standing statuses are perpetual in the state of Pennsylvania, so as long as you are listed as “Active” in the state’s business database, you’re in good standing. To obtain an official certificate, call the Department of State’s office at 717-787-1057.
Businesses can be searched through the Rhode Island Corporate Database—if your business is not listed as “inactive” in your search, you are in good standing. Once you find your business in the database, click on the link to “Request of a Certificate” if needed.
South Carolina’s Business Entities Online has a direct portal to check your status—just click “Search Existing Entities,” and the database will show your status right away. You can also request certificates and documents easily online.
You can find your business records, including Good Standing status, through Tennessee’s Business Services Online. From there you can request a “Certificate of Existence” or file an annual report.
Known as “Certificates of Account Status” in the Lonestar State, statuses can be searched through the Comptroller’s online portal here. You’ll need to complete a Form 05-359 to obtain an official certificate.
The Utah Business Name Search will inform you of your business’s status. If you are in Good Standing, Active, or Delinquent status, you can request a “Certificate of Existence” or “Certificate of Good Standing” by clicking on the business name in the search portal or by mailing or faxing this form.
- Name of business
- Whether you need the Short Form Certificate or the Long Form Certificate
- Name of the person or business requesting the information
- Complete address where copies are to be sent
- Daytime telephone number
You can search for your business’s status through the Vermont Corporations Division online. If you’re still unsure of your status, call the Secretary of State’s office at \802-828-2386, where they can check for you. To obtain an official certificate, you need to register a log-in with the Secretary’s website—where you can also file necessary annual or biannual reports.
Virginia’s SCC eFile can be used to search for entities. Scroll down to the “Certificate of Good Standing/Certificate of Fact” and search for your business name or by using your SCC ID. This will pull up your standing and provide links to submit annual fees and reports.
Search for your business through the Washington State Corporations Search portal. You need your Unified Business Identifier (or UBI—a 9 digit number) in order to obtain a certificate, which will be listed under the Corporations Search.
Create a profile on DC’s CorpOnline to access services such as entity searches and certificate requests. From there, click on “Business Filings Search” to check on your status.
West Virginia has Business Entity Search where you can check active status and filing history—the state does require annual reports. Once your click into your business name, there is a link to purchase a “Certificate of Existence.”
To check your business’s status, search for your business entity and click on your business’s name to get your standing, the duration of that standing, and your Wyoming state-issued Filing ID. Annual reports are required for some businesses in Wyoming, which you can file online. You can generate a Certificate of Good Standing with your Filing ID online.
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