If you begin a business relationship with someone, often that individual will be the owner of a corporation and your contract will be with the corporation and not the individual.
You may want to know when the corporation was formed and their current and former corporate officers and directors.
Like most states, the website of the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations has an excellent data base of corporate records.
Here is how to search online at the Division of Corporation’s website:
1. It is best to start at the Division of Corporation’s “Document Searches” page. You can then easily return to this page to perform another part of the search.
2. Under the heading “Corporations, Trademarks, Limited Partnerships, & Limited Liability Companies” click on:
Inquiry by Name
3. The “Search By Entity Name” page will be displayed. Type in the name of the corporation. Like all computer search functions knowing how much or how little to type in can take a couple of attempts. If you type in the name someone told you and there is no corporation by that name, try typing in fewer letters.
4. Click Search Now.
5. A list of names will be displayed. Find and click on the name of the corporation you researching.
6. The “Detail by Entity Name” page will be displayed showing the information for that corporation, limited partnership, limited liability company, or trademark.
7. Scroll down to read the information for the current officers and directors. The annual reports also have past officers and directors.
8. After you have finished at that page, go back to the “Document Searches”page and under “Fictitious Names” click on “Inquire by Owner Name” (don’t click on “Inquire by Fictitious Name.”)
9. The “To obtain a Fictitious Name list…” page will be displayed. On that page paste or type in the name of the corporation you are researching. You are searching to find any other names used by the corporation to transact its business. As for example, when Bob and Jack’s Restaurant, Inc. is doing business as (D/B/A) Grandma Gertrude’s Diner. They registered the fictitious name – also with the Division of Corporations, but under a different law, Section 865.09, Florida Statutes, the Florida Fictitious Name Act.
10. Sometimes you will have only the fictitious name and want to find the corporate records. In that case you will search first by Fictitious Name to find the owner – the corporation.
That’s it! You have will good summary of the correct information about the corporation’s name and its online registrations.
And remember, for your own corporation: always file your annual report on time and avoid hundreds of dollars in additional fees.