Kentucky Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated: June 19th, 2024
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If you’re thinking of starting a business in the state of Kentucky, then the first thing you’ll need to do is conduct a business entity search. The Secretary of State’s website allows the public to search for Kentucky businesses by name, organization number, etc.

There’s also a handy name availability search for when you’re ready to check the availability of your desired business name.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a Kentucky business entity search.

Kentucky search tips

When searching for a business in Kentucky, the following hints will help get the best results:

  • Upper and lower case is irrelevant as the search is not case sensitive.
  • Even if the company name contains punctuation marks or special characters, you don’t have to include them in the search as the search box ignores all punctuation.
  • Singular and plural words matter, so if a name contains an “S” at the end, keep it and if it doesn’t, don’t include it.
  • Entering the first few words of a name that contains multiple words is recommended to broaden your results.
  • Likewise, entering the first few letters that the name starts with will also give you more results.

The Kentucky SOS website allows you to search for registered businesses via the following search types or search criteria:

  • Business name
  • Organization number
  • Current officer name
  • Founding officer name
  • Registered agent or service of process agent’s name

Business search by entity name

Refer to the Kentucky SOS Business Entity Search page to begin looking up your desired business.

1
Enter the business entity name

Enter the name of the business that you’re searching for, and click on “Search business name.”

2
Review the results

If there are matching results, it will be displayed under “Search Results,” and the number of matching results, whether exact matches or partial matches, will be displayed in brackets.

The information that’s visible on this screen includes:

  • Company name
  • Organization number
  • Status
  • Type

3
Review additional business information

To access further business details, simply click on the name of the company. You’ll then have access to general business details, current officer information, documents filed with the SOS, assumed names, and activity history.

Additionally, you’ll find a few tabs that say:

  • File annual report
  • File Certificate of Assumed Name
  • Change address or registered agent
  • File withdrawal

Business search by current officer

The next method to search for a business in Kentucky is to use the current officer’s name if you have access to it.

1
Enter the current officer’s name

On the left-hand side of the same search page, select “Current officer search.”

Then enter the Last name and First name of the officer. You may also enter the Middle name if you have it.

Before clicking on the “Search” button, you’ll have the option to check or uncheck the box that says, “Limit Search to Active Organizations Only.”

2
Review the results

If matching results are found, the table will display the name of the:

  • Officer
  • Director
  • Treasurer
  • Sole officer
  • Member
  • Manager
  • President
  • Vice president
  • CEO

3
Review detailed business information

As with the Business search by name, you’ll be able to view the same detailed information on any entity simply by clicking on the name of the person that comes up.

Additional search criteria

The other search types include:

  • Founding officer search
  • Registered agent search

These other search options work exactly the same as the “Current officer search.”

Additionally, after entering the relevant names of the officers or registered agents, you may click on the blue links or names and access the same information you did when conducting the business search by name.

Kentucky name availability search

The name availability search offered by the Department of State is a handy tool allowing potential business owners to determine whether a name is currently in use or still available for business registration.

1
Enter the entity name or organization number

Enter the organization number or name into the search bar. Then click, “Search business name” or hit Enter on your keyboard.

A minimum of 4 characters is required, and a maximum of 1,500 results will be returned in the event that there are matching results.

2
Review the results

If that particular name is registered with the state or there are similar matches in the system, you’ll see a notice that says so.

It will also say, “The names listed below are not available.”

This will ultimately give you an idea of how many companies are registered under similar names to your desired name.

Use the name availability search to spark your creativity and come up with unique and distinguishable names for your business.

Kentucky search results

The information you’ll find after clicking on the relevant company names include:

  • Organization number
  • Name
  • Status
  • Profit or nonprofit
  • Standing
  • File date
  • State
  • Authority date
  • Last annual report
  • Registered Agent
  • Principal Office
  • Ceo
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Directors information
  • CFO

You may also access all documents filed with the SOS office, including annual reports, name reservations, etc.

The activity history section shows the filing date and effective date of all documents filed with the state. 

You may also opt to:

  • File annual report
  • File Certificate of Assumed Name
  • Change address or registered agent
  • File withdrawal

Copies of documents and certificates

After conducting your Kentucky business entity search, you may want to request copies of business documents. Copies of documents on file with the state may be requested from the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Business Records Division, also known as the business services or business filings division.

Copies cost $5 per page up to five pages and an additional $0.50 per page thereafter. In the event that you’d like to have a copy certified, the Secretary of State can do so.

The certification contains the secretary’s signature as well as the seal of the state, which is attached to the copy of the document.

Ultimately, this is conclusive evidence that the original document is on file with the state’s office. Certified copies will cost you $10 for up to five pages and an additional $0.50 per page thereafter.

In order to obtain copies of business documents, you’ll need to complete the Corporate Request for Documents Form and then submit it via mail to:

Office of the Secretary of State
Records Branch
P.O. Box 718
700 Capital Ave., Ste. 158
Frankfort, KY 40601

You may also reach out to the Secretary of State’s office for a copy of this form. The number to reach is (502) 564-3490, or contact them via email.

You may also choose to request a Certificate of Existence verifying that a limited liability company or domestic corporation is, in fact, in existence. The same applies to Certificates of Authorization when it comes to conclusive evidence that a foreign limited liability company or foreign corporation is authorized to transact in the state of Kentucky.

To purchase a Certificate of existence or authority, you’ll need to pay a $10 fee, and copies of the certificates may be requested either online or via mail.

Business name availability

The name availability search option on the Secretary of State’s website is intended to allow the public to search for the availability of business names in the state. It does this by comparing names against the records currently on file with the state’s office.

However, entity names are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Therefore, the name availability search is no guarantee that the name will be available at the time of filing with the office.

Therefore, it is recommended that name availability checks be made by contacting the office on the following number (502) 564-3490 or by writing to the office. Replies will be sent out using the same method as that request.

The inquiry is free of charge. Preliminary determinations are informational only and not a final determination of name availability.

The final determination is made using the submission of a document, like Articles of Incorporation, assumed name filing or Articles of Organization, etc. Ultimately it is the Secretary of State that is responsible for making the final determination concerning name availability.

As per the Secretary of State’s office, the general rule is that no business name will be accepted for filing by the office unless the name is available at the time of writing. The name should also be distinguished upon the records of the Secretary of State from any other registered business.

For more information on Kentucky naming guidelines, refer to the standards for available names.

In the event that your desired name is indeed available for business registration, but you’re not ready to form the business just yet, then you’re free to file an application for a Reservation or Renewal of Reserved Name Form.

The name reservation request must be made in writing, and the form needs to contain the following information:

  • Applicant’s signature
  • Effective date
  • Applicant’s name and mailing address
  • The business type (LLC, corporation, etc.)
  • The name your want to reserve
  • Whether the request is for a name reservation or renewal of a name reservation

Mail it along with a check for $15 to the Kentucky State Treasurer at the following address :

Office of the Secretary of State
PO Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602

Domain name availability

After deciding on the ideal name for your business, it is time to think about a domain name as well. While most people tend to overlook domain names, the reality is that it’s just as important as the name of your business.

This is because it ultimately sets the platform for your online presence and business’s brand. It, therefore, deserves some careful consideration.

However, there are literally billions of websites out there, and finding the ideal domain name is easier said than done. Therefore you will need to get creative if your desired domain name is already in use.

When deciding on a domain name for your business, keep the following helpful hints in mind:

  • Check whether the domain name has already been trademarked
  • Consider a domain name that will be in use over a long time
  • Use a domain name that reflects your company’s brand
  • Avoid the use of hyphens and numbers
  • Ensure that the name is easy to pronounce and type
  • Always opt for shorter domain names as opposed to longer, more complicated ones
  • Try to make use of popular extensions such as .net,.org,.com, etc.

The good news is that there is a professional domain name checking service called namechk.com. This website helps to filter domain names and provides suggestions and alternatives in the event that your preferred name is already taken.

Fictitious business name search

If you are considering conducting business under a different name from your business’s legal name, then a “doing business as” name could be helpful. A “doing business as” name is also called a DBA, assumed name, fictitious name, or trade name in the state of Kentucky.

Suppose you’re set on registering an assumed name in the state. In that case, you can start the registration process by submitting an Application for a Certificate of Assumed Name either in-person or via mail to the Secretary of State’s office.

Start by downloading and printing the relevant Form and specifying the assumed name you want to use.

You also are required to provide your company’s full legal name and type of formal business entity.

Additionally, you’ll need to specify the date that you’d like the fictitious name to take effect and confirm the county and state you’re forming the business.

Thereafter, provide the business’s mailing address and pay a filing fee of $20.

The completed Form should be sent by mail to:

Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Business Filings
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602

Alternatively, you may submit the form in person. The operating hours are between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. So you are free to submit the form to the below address:

Office of the Secretary of State will
Division of Business Filings
Room 154, Capitol Building
700 Capital Avenue
Frankfort, KY 40601

For questions or inquiries, refer to sos.ky.gov or call 502-564-3490.

FAQs

What does it mean when a business is in good standing?

A business is in good standing when they have paid the relevant state taxes and fees, filed the necessary reports, and has generally conducted business by the book. Therefore, businesses that have complied with the relevant laws are entitled to a Certificate of Good Standing, which proves as evidence that the entity is law-abiding and authorized to transact business in the state.

What are limited liability partnerships?

A limited liability partnership is a type of general partnership. Each partner has unlimited personal liability for the debts of the partnership. However, they will not be liable for the dishonest or illegal damages caused by other partners and only the state-dependent contractual debts.

Why should I start a limited liability company?

Starting a limited liability company comes with various advantages, such as limited liability, management flexibility, and federal pass-through taxation on profits. Limited liability owners are also not required to pay unemployment insurance taxes on their own salaries.

How does a federal tax lien arise?

A federal tax lien presents itself when you fail to pay taxes after the government makes a demand for payment. Therefore, a tax lien is basically a legal claim against the assets of a business or natural person who fails to pay what is owed to the government. In this case, assets may be seized in the form of a person’s personal property, etc.

What is the difference between for-profit corporations and nonprofits?

For-profit and nonprofit companies have various differences in terms of purpose. For-profit organizations are always formed to generate profit. On the other hand, nonprofit organizations do not prioritize profits and are dedicated to promoting a social cause or the greater good of the community.

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