How to Determine Who Is an Officer or Principal of a Corporation or LLC

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Although similar, corporations and limited liability companies (LLC) are not the same thing. An LLC is part corporation and part partnership. The main similarity between a corporation and an LLC is that both enjoy limited liability, which insulates the owners, directors and officers of a corporation or LLC in most situations. Although the terms "principal" and "officer" can have very specific meaning in the law, these people are, in general, agents of the corporation who have the authority to bind the corporation in regard to activities such as entering into contracts on behalf of the corporation. Finding out who is an agent of a corporation or LLC can be relatively easy.

Know what type of employee you are looking for. This is usually determined by your goals. For example, if you are interested in the finances of a corporation or LLC, you probably want to find the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) rather than, say, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Similarly, if you are trying to enter into a contract with a corporation that is just forming, you would need to find the principal since officers are not elected until after formation. In most instances, however, when people are looking for a principal or officer, they are really just looking for an agent of the company. If this is for legal matters, such as to serve a lawsuit on a corporation or LLC, you must find a registered agent, a separate business or individual with the authority to receive service of process on behalf of the LLC or corporation.

Contact the Secretary of State where the LLC or corporation is incorporated to obtain the name and address of the registered agent. All corporations and LLCs are required to provide the name and address of the registered agent to the Secretary in State every year. Many states also have online listing and search platforms so you can easily identify the agent of the corporation or LLC. Depending on the type of company and the number of employees, these listings may also identify officers and other principals in the company.

Check the website for the corporation or LLC. Most companies have websites and list the name and contact information for their officers and other principal players in the business. If you do not have regular Internet access, or the company does not have a website, you can try calling the main telephone number for the LLC or corporation to ask the receptionist.



About the Author

Lindsay Nixon has been writing since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Vegetarian Times," "Women's Health Magazine" and online for The Huffington Post. She is also a published author, lawyer and certified personal trainer. Nixon has two Bachelors of Arts in classics and communications from the College of Charleston and a Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law.

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