A certificate of good standing is simply a document that states your company is legally registered with your state. The document serves as proof that you are authorized to do business there and that you follow all state requirements, like submitting required documents and paying taxes and other fees.

This certificate also called by other names, including certificate of existence, status certificate, certificate of authorization, and certificate of status. But “certificate of good standing” is the most common way to refer to the document. It typically proves you are a legit business.

Just as the name can vary depending on the state, the certificate and every other regulation surrounding it can also differ.

However, the validity of a certificate of good standing in the United States varies depending on your situation and who is asking, but in most cases, it is valid for up to three months. In rare cases, states issue perpetual certificates of good standing that last for the lifetime of your business.

In addition, the agency or organization requesting the certificate determines the validity. In most cases, they will require a Certificate of Good Standing that has been issued within the past 30 days.

Even though certificates of good standing aren’t mandatory, it is still pertinent to maintain good standing with your state. If you don’t comply with your state’s regulations, you could be fined, lose the liability protection you got from incorporating, lose access to state courts, and more.

How to Get a Certificate of Good Standing in the United States

Dealing with the government can be daunting at times. But it is pretty easy to get a letter of good standing. Although the requirements can vary by state, it will always contain a signature from your state’s secretary of state and their certification that your business is in compliance and up to date with all legal and tax requirements. Howbeit, here is a state-by-state breakdown of how you can make sure you are in good standing in your business’s home state.

  1. Alabama

The state of Alabama offers “certificates of compliance” easily through the Alabama Secretary of State website. You just have to click on the link to “obtain a certificate of compliance” and follow directions from there. Note that your status will then be updated online whether you are in compliance or not—you’ll have to call the provided phone number if not. The cost of a certificate of good standing is $14, and if you are found to be out of compliance and file a subsequent request, you will have to pay an additional $14.

  1. Alaska

The state of Alaska has an easily navigable online database of compliant businesses where you can search for your business status. However, if you’ve never filed for a certificate of good standing in Alaska before, you can do so online. You’ll pay a $10 fee. Businesses in Alaska are mandated by law to file biennial reports. Every two years, businesses must make note of changes to the officials on record and keep records up-to-date.

  1. Arizona

In Arizona, Corporations and limited liability companies can get a certificate of good standing from the Arizona Corporation Commission website. You can order by mail or in person. Normal processing takes up to two weeks, and you’ll have to pay a fee of $10.

  1. Arkansas

The state of Arkansas’s website has a portal to search for your business and find links for purchasing and printing a certificate of good standing if your business qualifies. Note that you can then print your certificate directly off the state website after 48 hours. The cost the certificate is $25.

  1. California

You can easily search for your business status in California online. Have it in mind that applying for the certificate is a different ball game: “Certificates, copies, and status reports can be obtained by submitting a request to the California Secretary of State’s Sacramento office either in person (drop off) or by mail,” according to the California Secretary of State website. You’ll pay a $5 fee.

  1. Colorado

You are always asked to search for your business on the Colorado Secretary of State website. This will show you the status of your standing and also lead to a link where you can request certified copies of documents and even set up a secure business filing with the state. Certificates of good standing in Colorado are free.

  1. Connecticut

Note that good standing in this State is called a “certificate of legal existence” and can be obtained online. The state of Connecticut requires annual reporting by the end of your business’s anniversary month each year. The fee is $50.

  1. Delaware

Note that you can check the status of your Delaware entity online, but if you need an official certificate, you are expected to submit your request in writing using their Certificate Request Cover Memo. The cost to get your certificate of good standing ranges from $10 all the way up to $1,000 if you are in need of expedited delivery.

  1. Florida

Have it in that you are in good standing in the Sunshine State if you have a “certificate of status.” Sunbiz.org, an official State of Florida website, provides comprehensive instructions for ordering a certificate of status online or by mail. You can search your status on their website.

  1. Georgia

Georgia’s “certificates of existence” can easily be checked with the state’s easy-to-follow portal. Simply follow the prompts to search your business, review your information, provide payment, and check the status of your business’s standing. A $10 fee applies.

  1. Hawaii

The Aloha State mandates all annual business filings to remain in good standing. You can easily search for your status or print a certificate here. A $7.50 fee applies.

  1. Idaho

This state offers online certificates of existence generated in your web browser, or official certificates delivered by mail through their website. It is advisable you check your business’s standing through their Business Entity Search engine. You’ll pay an $11.50 fee for a printed certificate, and a $12 fee for an official certificate (signed by the Secretary of State’s office).

  1. Illinois

It is important to realize that the search for good standing status in the state of Illinois require you to define your business between corporate and LLC, just corporate, or just LLC. To obtain a certificate, you’ll need your business’s state of Illinois Authentication Number. You’ll also have to pay a $25 fee.

  1. Indiana

Note that the state online service for corporations’ website has many link errors. Nonetheless, you can obtain a certificate of good standing through a third-party website such as MyUSACorporation.com or Business Services Online.

  1. Iowa

“Certificates of Standing” in Iowa can be acquired through a state designated website, where they’ll provide an entity database and links to print your certificate if you are eligible. You can print this certificate. Note that each certificate comes with a unique Certificate ID to verify validity. There is a $5 fee.

  1. Kansas

You can request a certificate of good standing online through the state portal or by the Secretary of State’s phone or mail service. Ordering this certificate online cost $10, while paper requests cost $15.

  1. Kentucky

You can your standing status through the Kentucky Business One-Stop Portal by searching for your organization. Remember to file an annual report with the state to preserve your good standing. You’ll pay a $10 fee for your certificate of good standing.

  1. Louisiana

Note that you can check your good standing status through the state portal. Immediately you locate your business in the database, click on “Details” to view the full status. This portal will also provide links for purchasing official certificates. The cost is $20.

  1. Maine

In Maine, the annual reports are required of all businesses and can be filed online. The deadline to file is June 1. A $30 fee applies.

  1. Maryland

You can simply visit the Maryland Business Express site, where you can search your business’s status as well as file for official certificates. Search your business using its name or department ID. The cost is $40 if you request a certificate in person, or $20 if you request it by mail.

  1. Massachusetts

Ensure your business is in good standing through MassTaxConnect, where the Commonwealth requires you to submit an annual certificate of entity tax status. You’ll pay a $12 fee.

  1. Michigan

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs are known to handle business compliance for the state of Michigan. To receive an official certificate, you’ll need to contact the department online or by mail. The fee to request a good standing certificate is $10.

  1. Minnesota

Simply go to the state’s Business Filings Online portal to search your status and order a certificate. Fees for certificates of good standing are $5 for mail or in-person orders and $15 for online orders. Note that certificates are normally issued immediately upon payment, while some copy orders can take two to three days.

  1. Mississippi

You are expected to register with the Mississippi Corporations Registered Filer Login first. From there, you can search your business entity and obtain the proper documentation. You’ll pay a $27 fee.

  1. Missouri

You will have to visit the Missouri’s Business Entity Search to check your status. To order a certificate, you’ll have to register through the Corporations Online Portal and pay a $10 fee.

  1. Montana

The Treasure State also requires annual reports, which are due every April. Immediately you have that in order, use the Montana Business Search to check your standing. Click on the name of your business to get a link to request a certificate under “Request Entity Information.”

  1. Nebraska

The state’s online business services page includes a Corporation and Business Search, and you can also obtain your certificate here. The cost is $10.

  1. Nevada

You can easily search for your business through Nevada’s business portal. You’ll have to register with the site to request any documents, and pay a $50 fee.

  1. North Carolina

You can easily check your good standing status by searching for your business on the Secretary of State website—you will know you are in good standing if your status is “Current-Active.” Also note there will be a link provided to file your annual report there, if needed.

  1. North Dakota

You can easily search for your entity’s status through the North Dakota Business Records Search. If it does not say you are “active and good standing” in the database, it is likely you will need to file an annual report, for which they provide a link. However, certificates can be obtained upon request with payment of $5 (check, money order, or credit card) through various outlets:

Calling the Secretary of State 701-328-4284 or 800-352-0867 (Ext. 328-4284)

Fax at 701-328-2992 addressed to the Business Division

Email [email protected]

Mail addressed to: Business Division

Secretary of State

600 E. Boulevard Ave. Dept. 108

Bismarck, ND 58505-0500

Certificate of Good Standing in Ohio

  1. New Hampshire

Register with the New Hampshire Corporate Division online to search for your business and obtain documents. The state of New Hampshire requires annual reporting as well to maintain compliance.

  1. New Jersey

You can simply search for your entity’s status or certificates through the State of New Jersey Business Records Service. It’ll cost you $6.25 for just a status report. Note that New Jersey requires annual filing.

  1. New Mexico

Note that a status of “Active” doesn’t necessarily mean you are in active good standing. Click on your business name in the state portal to get the full report. Remember that New Mexico requires annual reporting. You can request an official certificate online or by mail.

  1. New York

Good standing in New York State is called a “certificate of status.” Nonetheless, you can easily search a business database on the NYS website, but it won’t tell you if you are in good standing. You are expected to call the New York secretary of state’s office in Albany, where they will be able to relay your status over the phone. Note that you can reach them at (518) 473-1654—average wait time on a weekday is about five minutes. It is helpful to have your DOS ID number handy, but they can also search by name. To get an official certificate of good standing, you’ll have to request one by fax or mail. The fee for a certificate of status is $25.

  1. Oklahoma

Note that good standing status can be searched on the Oklahoma Secretary of State website by searching for your entity name. From there, you can pay the $20 fee to obtain an official certificate.

  1. Oregon

Have it in mind that you can search for your business status and annual report filing due dates through Oregon’s Find a Business portal. To obtain a certificate, you’ll need to complete and mail or fax this form and pay a $10 fee.

  1. Pennsylvania

As long as you are listed as “active” in Pennsylvania’s business database, you are in good standing. However, to obtain an official certificate, you are expected to call the Department of State’s office at 717-787-1057. There is a $40 fee to obtain a certificate.

  1. Rhode Island

Note that businesses can be searched through the Rhode Island Corporate Database—if your business is not listed as “inactive” in your search, you are in good standing. However, immediately you find your business in the database, click on the link to request a certificate if needed. You can also mail your request to the following address: Compliance & Collections, RI Division of Taxation, One Capitol Hill, Providence, RI  02908 (401)574-8941. Remember to make your check payable to: RI Division of Taxation. A $20 fee applies for in-person, mail, and phone orders. Online orders cost $22. Processing can take up to four weeks.

  1. South Carolina

South Carolina’s Business Entities Online offers a direct portal to check your status—just click “Search Existing Entities,” and the database will show your status right away. You can also request certificates and documents easily online if you pay a $10 fee.

  1. South Dakota

South Dakota requires annual reports, which you can file easily online. Their Business Services portal lets you search for your standing status online as well as request certificates. There is a $20 filing fee.

  1. Tennessee

Note that you can easily find your business records, including good standing status, through Tennessee’s Business Services Online. From there you can request a “certificate of existence” or file an annual report. The filing fee is $20. An online service fee may be added to the filing fee. You can also file by mail and not pay a fee.

  1. Texas

Known as “certificates of account status” in the Texas, statuses can be searched through the Comptroller’s online portal here. Note that you will need to complete a Form 05-359 to obtain an official certificate, and pay a $15 fee.

  1. Utah

The Utah Business Name Search will clarify you of your business’s status, whether that is good standing, active, or delinquent. You can then request a “certificate of existence” or “certificate of good standing” by clicking on the business name in the search portal or by mailing or faxing this form. You’ll need:

  • Name of business
  • Whether you need the short-form certificate or the long-form certificate
  • Name of the person or business requesting the information
  • Complete address where copies are to be sent
  • Daytime telephone number
  • Processing takes seven to 10 business days.
  1. Vermont

Note that you can search for your business’s status through the Vermont Corporations Division online. If you are still not certain of your status, call the secretary of state’s office at 802-828-2386, where they can check for you. However, to obtain an official certificate, you need to register a username and password with the secretary’s website—where you can also file necessary annual or biannual reports. You’ll pay a $25 fee.

  1. Virginia

Virginia’s SCC eFile can be used to search for entities. Simply scroll down to the “certificate of good standing/certificate of fact” and search for your business name or by using your SCC ID. This will pull up your standing and provide links to submit annual fees and reports.

  1. Washington

Simply search for your business through the Washington State Corporations Search portal. Note that you will need your Unified Business Identifier (or UBI—a nine-digit number) in order to obtain a certificate, which will be listed under the Corporations Search. To get a UBI, you’ll need to submit your Washington Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Formation to the Department of Revenue and wait two to five business days. There’s a $20 online filing fee.

  1. Washington, D.C.

Just create a profile on D.C.’s CorpOnline to access services such as entity searches and certificate requests. From there, click on “Business Filings Search” to check on your status.

  1. West Virginia

West Virginia offers a Business Entity Search where you can check active status and filing history—the state does require annual reports. Immediately you click into your business name, there is a link to purchase a “certificate of existence” for $10.

  1. Wisconsin

Have it in mind that search for Corporate Records through the state of Wisconsin will lead you to your business status with the state. The cost of a certificate is $10.

  1. Wyoming

In Wyoming, to check your business’s status, simply search for your business entity and click on your business’s name to get your standing, the duration of that standing and your Wyoming state-issued filing ID. Annual reports are required for some businesses in Wyoming, which you can file online. Then you can generate a certificate of good standing with your filing ID online. There is no cost to obtain your certificate of good standing.

Conclusion

If you decide a certificate of good standing is not necessary for your business, you could face several problems. The biggest problem will be the loss of limited liability protection from the state. The state may choose to remove their protection for your business and its employees, leaving you vulnerable to financial losses. However, the good news is that getting a certificate is usually quick and cheap. Just reach out to your state’s business filing agency and follow the steps mentioned above to begin the process.

Ajaero Tony Martins