Washington Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)
If you’re thinking of starting a business in Washington, you’ll need to conduct a name search on the Washington Secretary of State’s website.
The name search will help you determine whether the desired name is still available for use or is already in use by another business.
Some of the information that will be returned during your search includes the business’s principal office address, status, and registered agent’s name.
Additionally, you may request the relevant business’s filing documents, such as the initial and annual reports, statement of change, etc.
Washington search tips
The following naming tips for a Washington state business come in handy during your search:
- Capitalization is something you don’t need to worry about as the search bar is not case-sensitive.
- To get the best search results, enter just a few words of the name you’re searching for. This will result in a list of company names that could be similar to the one you’re searching for.
- Do not include any punctuation marks or business designators, as this is irrelevant when searching Washington businesses.
The Washington corporations website allows you to perform two types of entity searches as follows:
- Basic search: The basic search allows you to search by business name or Unified Business Identifier, also known as UBI, in short.
- Advanced search: The advanced search option allows you to search for a business’s name in Washington using a variety of different criteria. Ultimately, this helps to minimize the number of search results or narrow down your search results altogether.
Basic business search
Open the Washington Secretary of State’s website, and select Corporations – Corporations Home from the main menu at the top of the page. Find the Business Search button in the middle of the page or follow this link to access the Business Search immediately.
Enter the business’s name
You can perform a corporation search by using the business‘s name or UBI.
- Click on the corresponding search box, and enter your search terms.
- Above the search box, you can select whether you want to search for entities whose name contains or begins with the search terms you entered or if you’re looking for an exact match.
- Use these options to narrow the search results. When searching by UBI, you must enter the exact number.
- Click Search.
Review the results
If there aren’t any matching businesses, the table will be empty. You may also see a message that says, “No Value Found” or a pop-up window that says, “null.”
When there are matching results, they will display in the table. Some of the information that will be available include the company name, entity type, UNI, registered agent’s name, and principal office address.
Review additional business information
If you require more detailed information about a specific business, simply click on the business name.
The information that will be displayed includes:
- Principal office address
- Business’s mailing address
- Registered agent’s name, street, and mailing address
- Formation date
- Expiration date
You’ll then have the option to print the required information or return to the business search page.
View filing history
You can also view Filing History or Name History by clicking on the corresponding button.
The list of filing documents will include:
- Filing number,
- Filing and effective date
- Filing type
- Links to downloadable PDF files
The basic search may be used to look up various types of business entities, including charities, fundraisers, trusts, etc.
When searching for different business entities, you may search by:
- Registration number
- Organization name
- FEIN number
- UBI number
You may also use this option to perform a trademark search by:
- Registration number
- Owner’s name
- UBI number
Advanced business search
To access the Advanced Business Search, when on the Washington Secretary of State’s website, Corporations section, click on the Advanced Business Search button next to the Business Search, found in the middle of the page, or simply follow this link.
The Advanced Business Search is compatible with various search criteria allowing you to narrow down the search results.
Enter the business’s name
- Enter the business‘s name in the appropriate search box.
- Select whether you’re looking for an entity that either contains or begins with the chosen name.
- Alternatively, select whether you’re looking for an exact match.
To minimize the search results, you can select the business status and business type from the drop-down list.
You can also add the expiration date and the date of incorporation/formation/registration, or start and end date.
Review the results
Review the key information from your search results, or click on the name of one of the businesses to access further business information, filing history, and name history.
If the search results are too wide, you can go back and edit your search criteria.
Business search by the registered agent or governor
You can also use the advanced business search to search for businesses by registered agent or governor.
Enter the agent’s name
Select whether you’re looking for a registered agent, also known as a statutory agent or governor, and type the name into the search box below.
If searching for the statutory agent, you can enter the address to narrow the search results.
Review the information
If there are search results, you’ll get the list of businesses along with some key information. To view more information, click on the business entity.
Washington business entity search results
Once you’ve completed your business name search on the WA SOS website, you’ll have access to several pieces of information, such as:
- Business name: Legal name of the business
- Business type: Limited liability company, corporation, nonprofit, general partnership, etc.
- Principal office address: This may be the address where business records are stored, or it could be the physical address of the business itself.
- Registered agent’s information: A registered or statutory agent is more often than not one of the business owners. Their purpose is to accept service of process and other legal documentation from the state on the business’s behalf. The search results will display the statutory agent’s name, phone number, and address, which is a public record.
- Governors: These are the names of the entity’s officers.
Additionally, you’ll be able to look up the business’s Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Formation, and annual reports filed.
- Active – Businesses that are actively doing business in Washington.
- Inactive – Businesses that have ceased to conduct business for whatever reason.
- Administratively dissolved – The Secretary of State terminates the entity due to failure to meet statutory requirements such as filing annual reports or maintaining a registered agent.
- Dissolved – The entity is permanently closed for business.
- Delinquent – If a corporation does not replace an agent who has resigned or misses a deadline to file, then the state typically issues the status of delinquency which is a notice of noncompliance. It basically means failure to comply with the notice by a specific date.
Copies of documents and certificates
After finding the relevant business information looking for, you may want to obtain copies of documents, certificates, and status reports.
For instance, you may be able to obtain a certificate of status or a certificate of no record from the Washington Secretary of State. The documents may be certified or uncertified, depending on what your requirements are.
Some of the business information that you will be able to request on the Washington Secretary of State’s website includes termination documents, amendment documents, registration of formation documents as well as statements of information.
Thanks to the Corporations and Charities Filing System (CCFS), on-demand copies are available for free. So all you need to do is search the Unified Business Identifier number, choose the entity from the search results and then choose the filing history button at the bottom of the page.
Thereafter, you’ll be able to access all documents filed with the Secretary of State on that specific business entity.
Business entity name availability
After conducting the business‘s name search, you’ll either come across a business that’s already registered under that name or, alternatively, you might not find that corporation or LLC name on the Secretary of State’s website at all.
However, this doesn’t instantly mean that you can use that name for your business. In fact, even if the name does not come up in your search results, it is ultimately left to the state’s office to approve the business name at the time of filing.
Therefore, it’s suggested that you have a list of possible new business names instead of simply banking on one option. It’s a good idea to use a business name generator to spark your creativity.
This process works the same even if you plan on registering a small business or startup in the state.
Domain name availability
Another important aspect to consider after finding the ideal business name is thinking about your domain name. A domain name is necessary to build an online presence for your brand. Therefore, your domain name should be easily searchable and easily remembered by potential customers.
While your domain name is the name of your website, it also gives your business instant credibility and a place in the marketplace with your biggest competitors. So ultimately, a domain name or website is an access point for people to visit your website and learn more about your business.
One of the best ways to determine whether a domain name is indeed available is to do a quick check on namechk.com. This website basically takes your desired website name and checks its availability on hundreds of online platforms.
So if the name is available, the channel turns green, and if the name is not available, then the name becomes grayed out or dim.
Fictitious business name search
After conducting the domain name availability check, it’s also a good idea to consider registering a DBA in Washington. A DBA is an abbreviation for (doing business as) name and is also called a trade name in the state. It essentially lets other people know that the name is already taken and not available for use.
The first step in registering a fictitious name for your business is to visit the Washington Department of Revenue’s Business Lookup website and look up the fictitious name. Suppose it turns out that no other business with the same trade name comes up. In that case, you can go ahead and file your trade name with the Washington Department of Revenue’s website or complete the Business License Application and mail it to:
State of Washington – Corporations Division
Business Licensing Service
P.O. Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
You also have the option of hand-delivering the Business License Application to a few locations. Some of the information that will be required when registering a fictitious name in the state include:
- Unified business identifier
- Ownership structure
- Estimated gross annual income
- Business opening date and place of incorporation
- Date of first employment
How do I find the owner of a business in Washington State?
One of the best ways to find the owner of the business in Washington is by conducting an entity search for the desired business on the Secretary of State’s website, where the corporation is registered.
How do I verify an LLC in Washington state?
You’ll first need to go on to the Washington Secretary of State’s website and conduct your LLC search by using the business’s UBI number or name. When using the business’s name in the search tool, ensure that you are as descriptive as possible to narrow down your search results.
How do I look up a UBI number in Washington state?
The UBI number is usually available on your formation document on the upper right side if you filed by mail with the WA SOS. If you ever lose your UBI moving forward, feel free to find it by doing a corporation search on the state’s website.
How do I find a business name in Washington state?
The quickest way to find a business’s name in the state of Washington is to conduct a search on the business entity database on the Secretary of State’s website.
How do I find the owner of a Washington business?
Not only can you find the owner of an existing business in Washington, but you’ll have access to many other pieces of information when you perform a name search on the state’s website.
Start a Limited Liability Company Online Today
Click on the state below to get started.