Updated October 28, 2020:

To request Articles of Incorporation in California, you will need to abide by the state's costs and procedures for obtaining a copy. The best place to start is with the secretary of state's office.

Why Request a Copy?

There are many reasons you might need a copy of your Articles of Incorporation. This is the document that defines your business's legal status, so even though you don't need it on a daily basis, it's important to have for applying for loans and opening bank accounts. You may also need to show a copy to potential investors.

How to Get a Copy of Your Articles of Incorporation

Articles of Incorporation are documents registered and maintained by the California Secretary of State's office. While your business would have received a certified copy upon formation, you may need to request an additional copy of the original goes missing. It's important to always keep your Articles of Incorporation filed with key business documents.

Each state varies on its procedures and costs for obtaining a copy, but you can always look up the Secretary of State's website for guidance.

Before requesting a copy of your Articles of Incorporation, you need to gather the appropriate information. For starters, you will need to know the legal business name the document was originally filed under, as well as its state-assigned or control number. You may also need to include the registered agent's information, including the address to complete the request.

If you can't find this information in your records, perform a business entity search on the Secretary of State's website. The search should provide you with all the information you need to complete your request.

Next, fill out the appropriate forms required for requesting a copy. You can also obtain these forms on the website. Make sure to review the forms in detail and confirm how the state processes requests. Most states, including California, only process completed forms filed in person or via mail. The request will take at least 24 hours to complete and rush orders are charged additional fees. For example, California fees are charged per page while Tennessee charges a flat fee.

In some cases, you may find it more convenient to hire a firm to request your Articles of Incorporation for you. When hiring a firm, you pay the company for the convenience and they go through the same process you would have gone through with the Secretary of State's office. Be leery of firms that claim you can only get the copies you need by going through them.

Requesting a Copy of Your Articles of Incorporation in California

You can request a copy of your business's Articles of Incorporation either in person or via mail, although mail is recommended. Normal processing times vary and can be checked online. In California, processing costs are $1 for the first page and 50 cents for every page thereafter, plus $5 for certification.

Requesting a copy in person takes priority over mailed requests, so if you need your Articles of Incorporation in a hurry, one can generally be provided in five to seven business days. However, you must pay an additional $10 handling fee.

When requesting a copy by mail, be sure to provide the Records Order Form, a self-addressed envelope, the fee payment, and a phone number on the cover letter where the office can reach you if they have any questions. Like in-person requests, the first page is $1 and each additional page is 50 cents. Mailed requests are not subjected to the $10 handling fee.

Although in-person requests take priority, expedited processing isn't available in California. Payment options include:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • Money order
  • Personal check

Make your money order or check out to the “Secretary of State.” Once requested, you can check processing times on the Secretary of State's website. The certified copy of your Articles of Incorporation will be mailed, by regular mail, unless you request otherwise and provide a pre-addressed, prepaid envelope or airbill. Fax or email return services are not available.

For written communication with the secretary of state, send all correspondence to:

California Secretary of State
Certification and Records
1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814


P.O. Box 944260
Sacramento, CA 94244-2600

You can also call the Secretary of State's office at 916-657-5448 for more information.

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