How to Determine Who Is an Officer or Principal of a Corporation or LLC?
Sometimes companies engaged in business need to confirm the names of the officers or principals of a corporation or LLC. Reasons include contract negotiations, merger discussions or partnership overtures. If a company does not readily supply the information upon request, you must conduct your own due diligence. Formation articles and renewals filed with the secretary of state and business license registrations filed with local jurisdictions or the state can be a good source of information.
Your reasons determine who you are looking for. If you file a lawsuit against an LLC or corporation, you can simply send the information to the registered agent. The law requires registered agents to forward documents to the corporation officers, principals or authorized representative. If you need a contract signed, then you can search for the president, CEO, COO or even the CFO. For smaller businesses where no one uses those titles, you will need to determine the principals or owners.
When searching for the name of an officer or principal, begin the search with the secretary of state in the state the entity you are researching is located. The secretary of state manages an in-depth, searchable database on various business entities including corporations and LLCs. The majority of states require the listing of the names of all LLC members or corporation shareholders when the formation articles are filed. In most states, LLCs and corporations must also file annual registrations or amendments to document any ownership changes or additions.
If you cannot find the name of the officers, members or shareholders in the secretary of state database, contact the statutory or registered agent listed. Each state requires a corporation or LLC to appoint an individual or company in this role who must maintain a business address in that state for the purpose of accepting legal documents. Sometimes the agent is an individual who may also be an officer or principal.
Check the corporation or LLC's business license in the city, county or state in which it primarily does business. Business licenses typically require the name, title and signature of an officer, principal or authorized agent. Licenses also provide the business address and phone number. If an agent signs, you can contact the agent to inquire about officers or principals using the information provided.
Most companies maintain a company website. Often, the website provides the list and bios of the company’s officers or executive management team. Publicly listed companies are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You can access the SEC's Edgar database to see who the corporate officers are. The SEC typically requires a company to list the names of several executives, board members and anyone who owns at least 5 percent of the stock.