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LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How to Find Out Who Owns a Business

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

If you need to find out who owns a business, a variety of free resources are available which may provide the information you want. In this article, we’ll walk you through different ways to look up business owners.

There are several reasons why you might need to find out who owns a business:

Search for available business names

Before you put effort into branding a business around a name, it’s a good idea to make sure some other business hasn’t taken it already. Luckily, most states give you the ability to perform an available business name search through their secretary of state websites (more on that later).

Some states also allow you to reserve a business name online, so you can put a hold on it while you work on completing the rest of the registration process.

 Learn more about how to incorporate a business.

Find out who you’re doing business with

In industries with national security exposure like banking and exporting, “know your business” (KYB) and “know your customer” (KYC) research is a legal requirement. Knowing who owns a business is a crucial part of complying with anti-money laundering regulations and avoiding dealings with businesses in countries under financial, military or other sanctions.

Learn more about your clients or customers

Some businesses have complicated corporate structures that cloud the identities of the actual owners. Finding out who they are may help you better understand the motivations and priorities of your customers and clients so you can serve them better.

Here are eight ways to find out who owns a business.

1. Check the company website

When you want to find out who owns a business, your first stop should be the company website. Often these websites have “about” or “leadership” sections describing who owns and manages the business. Usually the CEO is at least a part owner of the company. Owners may also go by different business owner titles, including:

  • President
  • Principal
  • Founder
  • Director

2. Check a WHOIS domain lookup

WHOIS domain lookup is a public database of domain registration information for web pages. If you know a company’s web address, you can use the WHOIS database to look up their domain registration information. The Registrant Name or Administrator Name may be that of an owner, unless they have used a third party private registration service.

3. Submit a public information request

You can also submit a written public information request to find out who owns a business. Each state government has public record access statutes which may include ownership information on file for companies registered with that state. A good starting place for research is the website for the state’s Office of the Attorney General, which should describe what information is publicly available and how to access it.

Depending on the state and the information you’re requesting, you may need to make your request by mail or electronically, and the expected turnaround time for receiving the information can range from a few days to quite a bit longer. You’ll likely be asked to pay a research, copying or delivery fee, or the information might only be available for in-person viewing and copying at the records office.

4. Consult alternative public records

There are additional public records databases that you can check to find out who owns a business. Although this is not an exhaustive list, they can include:

  • Business licenses: Some industries require businesses to have special licenses (e.g., liquor or hazardous waste). The licensing information may include owners’ names.
  • Real estate records: If a business has a brick-and-mortar location, you can find the property owner information from the county recorder’s office. The property owner may be one of the business owners.
  • Court documents: If the business has been involved in any legal matters, the business owner’s information will likely be in court filings. These can often be found online in federal, state or county databases, which you can search by company name.

5. Check with the Chamber of Commerce

Each region has its own Chamber of Commerce, an organization run by local business owners to network and market their services in the community. Their membership directories can be freely searched, although not every company in a locality will be listed since membership is optional and carries a fee. The listing will show the name of the individual who is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, which, for small businesses, is often the owner, but may be a branch manager or similar executive.

If you’re unsure where to find your local Chamber of Commerce, you can start by looking at the national registry for more information.

6. Read Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports

Some businesses are listed on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) site, which can be searched for free. If the business has applied for BBB accreditation, its listing may include detailed information including the name and contact information of its owners, so it’s worth checking.

7. Look up news mentions

News media often report on local businesses’ activities such as executive changes, mergers and store openings. Often the owners will be named or quoted in the article or posting.

8. Search state secretary of state databases

Each state’s secretary of state office maintains a database of registered business entities within its jurisdiction. These databases are freely searchable and provide information about each company.

While many companies have a listed owner, some may have a registered agent instead. A registered agent is an official point of contact for the business – if you can’t find the owner directly, you may be able to contact the registered agent for more information.

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In many states, using a secretary of state business search tool is likely going to be one of the easiest ways to find out who owns a business. Find your state below.

StateBusiness ownership lookup
AlabamaSecretary of State Business Entity Records
AlaskaSearch Corporations Database
ArizonaCorporations Commission Search Database
ArkansasCorporation Search Index
CaliforniaSecretary of State Business Search
ColoradoBusiness Database Search
ConnecticutBusiness Record Search
DelawareDelaware Entity Key
District of Columbia (DC)CorpOnline
FloridaSunbiz Business Search
GeorgiaCorporations Division Business Search
HawaiiHawaii Business Express Search Tool
IdahoIdaho Business Search Portal
IllinoisBusiness Entity Search
IndianaINBiz Public Business Search
IowaIowa Business Entities Search
KansasBusiness Entity Search Station (BESS)
KentuckyKentucky Business Entity Search
LouisianaLouisiana Business Filings
MaineCorporate Name Search
MarylandMaryland Business Express
MassachusettsCorporations Division Business Entity Search
MichiganCorporations Online Filing System
MinnesotaSearch Business Filings
MississippiBusiness Services Search Portal
MissouriBusiness Registration Online Portal
MontanaSearch Your Business
NebraskaCorporate & Business Search
NevadaSilverFlume Business Portal
New HampshireBusiness Search Tool
New JerseyBusiness Name Search
New MexicoCorporations and Business Services Search
New YorkCorporation and Business Entity Database
North CarolinaCompany Search Tool
North DakotaBusiness Records Search
OhioSearch by Business Name Portal
OklahomaCorporation Entities Search
OregonBusiness Registry Database
PennsylvaniaBusiness Filings Search
Rhode IslandDepartment of State Entity Search
South CarolinaBusiness Entities Online Tool
South DakotaBusiness Information Search
TennesseeTennessee Business Entity Search
TexasTaxable Entity Search
UtahDivision of Corporations and Commercial Business Search
VermontBusiness Express Search
VirginiaVirginia Business Entity Search
WashingtonAdvanced Business Search
West VirginiaWest Virginia Business Entity Search Tool
WisconsinCorporate Records Search
WyomingBusiness Center Search Portal

With enough effort, it’s often possible to find the owner of a private company. Key sources to start with are the DBA directory for the state, county or city where the business is located; the secretary of state’s business entity search tool; and WHOIS lookup for the company’s web domain name. If the company is in an industry that requires special licenses, check those filings. You can also search the company’s website, news articles and publicly published legal documents mentioning the company.

Limited liability companies (LLCs) must register with the state in which they operate. Visit the secretary of state’s business entity search portal to find out the name of the registered agent for the business, who may be one of its owners. An owner of an LLC is also known as a “member.”

It’s more challenging to find out who owns a business when the business is not registered with its state. Try searching the company website and the web for news articles and public legal documents mentioning the business. Look for references to owner names and business addresses. Doing a web search on any addresses you find may tell you who owns or lives at a property; then try searching those names for any connections to the business.

DBA means “doing business as.” DBAs are used when owners want to brand their businesses using something other than their own or their company’s legal name. Searching a DBA registration database may lead to owner information.

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