What Is the License to Form a Corporation Issued by a State Government Called?

Business woman doing paperwork for her corporation.

The license to form a corporation issued by the state government is called a Certificate of Incorporation, more commonly known as the Articles of Incorporation. A business needs to file the Articles of Incorporation in order to create a corporation and register a company with a state. This license is legal proof of the existence of the company.


How to File the Articles of Incorporation

The information required to file the Articles of Incorporation varies by state but usually has similar requirements, including:

  • Corporate name, which typically must end in words like “Corp.,” “Inc.,” etc.
  • Physical and mailing business address
  • Registered agent name and registered office address
  • Corporation type (e.g., nonprofit, professional, benefit, etc.)
  • Business purpose
  • The number and type of authorized shares (e.g., common, preferred, etc.)
  • Names, addresses, and signatures of incorporators/directors
  • Fiscal year close month
  • Period of duration (i.e., does the corporation have a planned end date)
  • Effective start date

Most states offer online filing for the Articles of Incorporation, while others offer in-person or mail-in filing.

Who Can File the Articles of Incorporation?

Once you are ready to file the Articles of Incorporation with your state, there are three primary ways that you can proceed with filing:

  • Hiring an Attorney
  • Filing the Articles of Incorporation Yourself
  • Using a Formation Service

Hiring an Attorney

Hiring an attorney can be the most advantageous way to file the Articles of Incorporation and the most common form as they are under a legally bound obligation to protect personal property.

Attorneys can give you insight into the best business entity type for your company and what type of legal structure you will need based on your business organization.

An advantage to hiring a lawyer or attorney is that they can file business documents for you and help resolve issues with the federal government and work around policies as well as take care of personal liability issues for you.

Filing the Articles of Incorporation Yourself

The cheapest option to file the Articles of Incorporation is by doing it yourself. If you have a good idea of how to file the forms, this option can save you money.

When you form your own corporation and file the Articles of Incorporation to be issued by the state government, you will just have to pay the filing fees. However, be careful filing on your own. If your filing has errors or is late, you may experience additional fees and delays.

Using a Business Formation Service

Business formation services like ZenBusiness and Rocket Lawyer provide online document filing services that can help a company form an LLC. They also provide many other useful services like helping you ascertain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or even serving as your company's registered agent.

Most businesses rely on these valuable services when filing formal paperwork issued by the state government and also the federal government. These formation service companies can help with putting together a formal contract when starting the business. They also help with maintaining compliance and can offer things like license search assistance and annual report filing.

Main Takeaway

The Articles of Incorporation are what businesses must file with the state in order to become a corporation. Though we recommend using a business formation service like ZenBusiness or Rocket Lawyer, the best way to file and form your corporation will depend on your business’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Certificate of Incorporation?

A Certificate of Incorporation, known more commonly as the Articles of Incorporation, is a document filed with the state in which the company plans to operate that outlines the proposed company's structure, its management, and its ownership. For most states, this document is filed with the Secretary of State.

What types of business structures require a registered agent?

Formal business structures, such as LLCs, corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships, require a registered agent and registered office address.

How do you verify a Certificate of Incorporation?

A Certificate of Incorporation is verified by the Secretary of State during the filing process. The most common way to verify a Certificate of Incorporation is to search for the business in the public records database of the state in which it was incorporated.

Who issues the Certificate of Incorporation?

A Certificate of Incorporation is issued by the state. The issuing department varies by state, though most states’ business services division is part of the Secretary of State.

What is a commercial enterprise?

A commercial enterprise is any business or organization that seeks to make a profit.

Is a business organization owned by the federal government?

No, a business organization is not owned by the federal government. However, like employees working for an organization, a business organization is required to pay taxes to the federal government.