A business's Articles of Incorporation (AOI) is a legal document that establishes a corporation as a separate entity from its owners and outlines the structure and purpose of the company. This document is typically filed with a state government agency, such as the Secretary of State.
Alternative names for this document may include Certificate of Incorporation (COI), Articles of Organization, Corporate Charter, and Certificate of Formation.
Sections in this article:
- Difference between AOIs / COIs and EIN Letters
- What do Articles/Certificates of Incorporation look like?
- How to certify your Articles of Incorporation
- Obtaining a copy of your Articles of Incorporation
Difference between AOIs/COIs and EIN Letters
AOIs are not the same as EIN Letters. The information contained in the Articles of Incorporation provides a foundation for the governance of the corporation and is used as a reference in legal and financial matters. The EIN Letter serves as official proof of the EIN for a business and can be used to open a bank account, apply for business licenses, and more.
What do Articles/Certificates of Incorporation look like?
The format and content of an Articles of Incorporation document can vary by state, but it typically includes information such as the corporation's name, purpose, registered office and agent, stock structure, directors, incorporators, and dissolution clause. Here is a sample format of an LLC's Articles of Incorporation.
Note: This is a template, and what the Articles of Incorporation look like can vary depending on the state, country, and type of corporation. However, all valid AOIs should include most of the information presented in the template. It is important to check the requirements of the state where the corporation will be formed before drafting your Articles of Incorporation.
How to certify your Articles of Incorporation
To get your Articles of Incorporation certified, you'll need to follow these steps:
- Obtain a copy of your original Articles of Incorporation: This can be done by contacting the state agency where your corporation was formed or by accessing the public records for your corporation.
- Request certification: Contact the state agency where your corporation was formed and request that they certify a copy of your Articles of Incorporation. There may be a fee for this service.
- Provide proof of identity: You may be required to provide proof of identity, such as a piece of government-issued photo ID or a notarized signature, to verify that you are authorized to receive a certified copy of your Articles of Incorporation.
- Wait for certification: The time it takes to receive a certified copy can vary, so be sure to check with the state agency for any estimated processing times.
Note: The requirements for certifying your Articles of Incorporation can vary by state, so it's important to check with the state agency where your corporation was formed for specific instructions and requirements.
Obtaining a copy of your Articles of Incorporation
If you have misplaced your Articles of Incorporation, you can find a copy on the Department or Secretary of State website for the state under which your company is filed. This is done through a business entity search. To find your state’s entity search page, visit our list of Secretary of State Business Entity Search Links. Simply enter your company name and entity type to find its information and available documents.
Depending on the state, obtaining a copy of your articles of incorporation could either be free or cost a small fee.