A limited liability company is an attractive business structure to some entrepreneurs, especially those who want to run a small business without having to take every decision to partners or a board of directors. An LLC still enables small-business owners to enjoy the legal protections and tax benefits of corporations. A time may come when you need to see another company’s LLC bylaws or operating agreement, especially if you are considering investing in that firm. However, these documents are not public record and could be difficult to obtain.

Call, write or visit the secretary of state's office in the state in which the LLC does business. Ask if the company you are researching has filed a copy of the LLC bylaws or operating agreement with state officials. Some states, such as South Carolina, require you to complete a brief form and pay a nominal fee when requesting anyone’s LLC documents.

Call, email, write or visit the owner of the company for which you want to see the LLC bylaws or operating agreement. This is a potentially tricky request, especially if the company is not familiar with you or your small business. After all, the LLC bylaws and operating agreement outline many private details about how a company is financed and conducts its business. If you are not engaged in a business transaction with the other firm, do not be surprised if your request is denied.

Search EDGAR, an online information system of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This federal government organization has kept many records for LLCs and corporations of all sizes since 1934 and placed records online in 1984 in an effort to help investors make informed decisions. In some cases, small businesses as well as major companies have filed their LLC bylaws and operating agreements with the government.

Hire a business attorney to help you get a copy of the company’s LLC bylaws and operating agreement. You need an excellent reason to take this step, because hiring an attorney is expensive and time-consuming. Also, you might not necessarily prevail in your request to see the LLC’s documents.

Things You Will Need
  • Full name of business

  • State of business

  • LLC owner name


Many states do not require an LLC to have an operating agreement in place. However, even small business owners usually draft one because it is considered poor business sense not to do so.