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

Last updated: March 19th, 2024
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If you are thinking of starting a business in Massachusetts, you’ll need to first determine whether your chosen name is available for business registration.

The business entity search available on the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, business services website will help you determine exactly that.

The website contains a number of search criteria to find registered businesses in the state. You’ll also be able to search a variety of business structures, including limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships, etc.

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

Massachusetts search tips

When searching for a business in Massachusetts, use the following tips to get the best results:

  • Punctuation marks and special characters do not affect the search results, so you may choose to use them or omit them from the search
  • The search displays between 25 to 100 results per page and you may use the “Search type” drop-down menu to refine your results
  • For best results, type in only the first portion that the name starts with.
  • The search is not case-sensitive.

For a comprehensive list of search tips, click on the “Search assistance” link.

The Massachusetts online services business search page, also known as the business filings online page allows you to search for registered businesses via the following search types:

  • Business entity name
  • Individual name
  • Filing Number
  • Identification number

Business search by entity name

Refer to the Massachusetts Corporation Search page to begin searching for registered businesses in the state.

1
Enter the business name

Select the entity name option and enter the name of the entity you are searching for.

Use the “search type” drop-down menu to narrow down your results.

Then click on the “Search corporations” button.

2
Review the results

Entities with the same or similar names will show up on the search results.

On this page, you will have access to the following:

  • Entity name
  • ID number
  • Old ID number
  • Address

3
Review additional business information

By clicking on the “entity name,” you will be able to view various company details such as date of organization, principal office, service of process or registered agent’s details, etc.

There’s also an option to view filings.

Additional search options

The corporation search page allows you to search by:

  • Individual name
  • Identification number
  • Filing number

Ultimately, you’ll simply select the relevant search option you’re using and enter the information you have on hand.

If exact matches or partial matches are found, they will be displayed on the next page.

When you click on any of the entity names displayed, it takes you back to the business summary page displaying all the information you had access to when searching using the entity name.

Massachusetts search results

When clicking on the name of the business, you’ll have access to the information below:

  • The exact name of the corporation
  • Name changed from (if applicable)
  • Entity type
  • Identification number
  • Date of organization
  • Old ID number
  • Current fiscal month
  • Previous fiscal month
  • Principal office location
  • Resident agent’s information
  • Directors and officers of the business
  • Business filings

Copies of documents and certificates

After conducting your Massachusetts name search, you may want to request copies of business documents and specific certificates. These documents may be plain copies or certified copies.

Certified copies are correct and true copies of business filings which can only be obtained from the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. The most frequently-issued documents are the Articles of Incorporation, annual reports, and Articles of Amendment.

The certified copies issued by the Massachusetts SOS come along with a stamp, endorsement, or seal verifying that they are true and correct.

Some of the reasons why you may need a certified copy of a business document or certificate include opening a bank account, obtaining business licenses, and applying for a Certificate of Authority.

The following documents may be certified:

  • Articles of formation
  • Certificate of Authority
  • Articles of amendment
  • Annual filings, such as annual reports
  • A fictitious name or DBA registration
  • Dissolution and withdrawals
  • Mergers

To request copies of documents from the Massachusetts SOS, make use of the following information:

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth

Physical address:
McCormack Building, One Ashburton Place 17th floor
Boston, MA 2108

Phone: 1-800-392-6090 (within Massachusetts) or 617-727-7030
Fax: 617-742-4528

Business name availability

One of the points to note when conducting a name search is that even if the results do not reveal similar names or the same name, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the name will be available at the time of filing.

Therefore, it’s best to compile a list of alternatives in the event that your preferred name is already in use by another business entity. Additionally, when naming your Massachusetts business, keep the following naming rules in mind:

  • Your chosen name must contain the company, corporation, Limited, Inc., or at least an abbreviation of any of these terms.
  • Your desired name must not imply that the business is organized for any other purpose or any unlawful purpose. It should only imply that it’s organized for the purposes outlined in your company’s Articles of Incorporation.
  • Your chosen name should not be the same or too similar to any of the existing businesses in the state. This also includes any names that are reserved in the state.

For complete naming rules, refer to the Massachusetts state statute.

Additionally, if your name is available but for whatever reason, you cannot initiate the business registration process, you can complete a Name Reservation Application with the Secretary of State. The application Form must include the following information:

  • The name of the person applying
  • The address of the person applying (not po box)
  • The name you are reserving
  • Contact details of the person applying

The name is reserved for approximately 60 days and may also be extended for a further 60 days. The filing fee for name reservations is $30, and when extending the reservation, you’ll need to pay an additional $30.

Domain name availability

Domain names help people remember your website and also act as a representation of your company’s brand. Therefore, a domain name is just as important as the company it is associated with.

Ultimately, domain names are priceless assets in the age of the Internet and essential to the business registration process.

With millions of websites online, it can be difficult to find and secure your chosen domain name.

This is why you should use a professional domain checking service like Namechk.com.

This professional service checks 36 different domain impossibilities and over 100 social media websites and online platforms. Some of the social networks that are checked include:

  • Tumblr
  • YouTube
  • PayPal
  • Facebook
  • WordPress
  • Yelp

Namechk.com checks against 36 domains and more than 90 social media platforms. Therefore, by using the service, you can check the availability of either a username or domain name within seconds.

Additionally, Namechk.com also filters your search options and recommends alternatives in the event that your preferred domain name is unavailable.

Fictitious business name search

As part of the business registration process, you may also want to consider registering a DBA name. A DBA is also known as a doing business as, fictitious, assumed, or trade name. A fictitious name basically lets potential customers know more about what your company does and clearly communicates the purpose of your business.

Ultimately, it’s essential to define your company’s brand and forms a public image that matches the identity of your business as well as its values. You should also note that fictitious names do not protect your company against trademark infringement.

For this type of protection, you’ll need to register a trademark either on the state or federal level. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is handy when it comes to nationwide protection. Alternatively, you can register a state trademark with the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

Feel free to reach out to your Department of State’s office for information on how to go about registering a DBA in the state of Massachusetts.

FAQs

Does the Massachusetts business entity search return exact matches or partial matches?

The Massachusetts business entity search brings up similar company names, including partial matches and exact matches.

Do for-profit corporations and nonprofits have anything in common?

For-profits are formed to fulfill the owners’ or members’ organizational objectives, which is usually to make a profit. Nonprofits, on the other hand, are formed to benefit the public or for the greater good of the public. Additionally, nonprofits cannot distribute the income generated through the organization’s efforts to members.

Is a limited liability partnership different from a general partnership?

A limited liability partnership is much like a general partnership and is considered a part of it. This is because 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 pay for the state-dependent contractual debts.

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.

Why should I form a limited liability company?

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

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