1. Wisconsin Name Search
2. Search for Name Availability
3. Search by Business Entity
4. Information Not Available 
5. Year-End Corporate Filings
6. Filing Changes and Contact Information

A Wisconsin Business Entity Search is used to find out if the preferred name for a new business is available in the state of Wisconsin. This search can also be performed to find more information on an existing business. Business owners wishing to start up an LLC (Limited Liability Company) can visit the Secretary of State (SOS) website to search through names or to help with administrative duties for your business.  

Search for Name Availability

Forming an LLC in Wisconsin will require a search for name availability on the SOS website. 

Particular guidelines must be followed when choosing a name for your LLC. 

You'll want to begin with a search to see if the name you want to use is already is use by another business in the state. There cannot be two businesses with the same name in Wisconsin. You'll also want to check and see if the URL is available for that name, as you'll likely want to start a business website one day. If you're concerned about others using the URL, you can buy the domain name in advance.

Visit the website for the Financial Institutions department (DFI) to search for name availability by typing in your chosen name to the search bar and performing a search. If the site returns a message showing that there are no other businesses currently using that name, you are free to use it for your LLC. 

Search by Business Entity

Another use for a name search is to find a business entity in existence and the following information:

  • The business's legal standing (DIS-dissolved, etc.)
  • The address of the business
  • The Registered Agent's address
  • Filing history (date of most recent annual report)

Business owners can also find Certificates of Good Standing and file required reports for their LLC through this search.

This business entity search is performed on the SOS website by entering the business name or using an advanced search. When using the simple name search, enter as much of the name or as many keywords as you can to ensure the most accurate results.
The results will provide a preview of the business's information including:

  • Business name
  • Identification number (not EIN)
  • Type of business (LLC, PLLC, LP, etc.)
  • Date is was incorporated
  • Current status with the SOS

Select the matching name to view all of the detailed information on that business. Including everything listed above as well as any filing requirements.

If you would like to manage details for your existing LLC, you can do a name search for your business. Once you've found the correct LLC, select it to view details and file any reports, request certain certificates, and change information for your registered agent.

Information Not Available 

You will not find the following information when performing a business entity online search:

  • Employer Identification Numbers or EINs/FEINs
  • Name of members of the LLC
  • Phone numbers for the business
  • Trademarks or DBAs (Tradenames)
  • Information on state taxes
  • Names of business owners
  • Information on any partnerships (GPs)

Year-End Corporate Filings

When filing year-end reports for your business, keep in mind that the documents may not be effective for 90 days after they're filed. If a document is filed by December 29, it will be effective by January 1, three days later. This will only happen, however, if the document is completely ready to be filed. If it needs to be sent back for revisions, a new effective date will be assigned. Also keep in mind that the offices are closed during the holiday season on December 25 and New Year's Day.

If you are looking to create or change an LLC or any other organization (corporation, partnership, etc.), you need to contact the office at The Corporation Section of the Division of Corporate & Consumer Services (within the DFI) for filing. Any out-of-state organizations wanting to do business in Wisconsin will also deal with this department for licensing.

Filing Changes and Contact Information

The Department of Financial Institutions cannot accept payment for filing or copy services in the form of cash as of January 3, 2017, but they will accept personal checks, cashier's checks, or money orders.

Businesses can manage their filing needs by visiting the department in person, but they are encouraged to use the website, as it is meant to streamline these processes and make filing easier. 

Here is the contact information for the Department of Financial Institutions:

  • phone: (608)261-7577
  • address: Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, 201 W Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53703
  • email:  DFISecretary@wisconsin.gov

If you need help with a Wisconsin business entity search, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.