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New York Secretary of State Business Search and Beyond: What Can It Do for You?

Caroline Goldstein

Staff Writer at Fundera
Caroline is a small business and finance writer at Fundera. Before coming to Fundera, she received an MFA in Fiction from New York University. She loves finding creative ways to help entrepreneurs grow.

Although the New York Secretary of State—and the Department of State that they oversee—might seem like another faceless government entity, they actually play a huge role in the success of many New York businesses.

Many New York-based business owners have interacted with the New York Secretary of State business search before starting their business—but what else can this government entity do for your business?

We’ve compiled a guide to everything the New York Secretary of State can do for entrepreneurs who are doing business—or plan to do business—in New York state. So, let’s learn all about the NY Secretary of State and how this government official pertains to your small business.

Who Is the Current New York Secretary of State?

The New York Secretary of State is Democrat Rossana Rosado. Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Rosado as NY Secretary of State on February 3, 2016, and she was confirmed by the New York State Senate on June 15, 2016.  

Before becoming the New York Secretary of State, Rosado worked in media for 30 years. Most notably, she was the first woman to serve as publisher and CEO of El Diario La Prensa, the country’s largest Spanish-language newspaper.

New York Secretary of State Rosado has also worked in public office. In 1992 she was appointed vice president for public affairs at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, and she served on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 2012 to 2015.    

Secretary Rosado has won several awards for her work in media, including a Peabody Award for Journalism and an Emmy for producing PSAs. In both her media and political roles, Rosado has chiefly advocated for economic and social justice, women’s empowerment, immigration policy, and prisoner reintegration into society.

New York Secretary of State

An Overview of the NY Secretary of State’s Duties

Now that you’re familiar with who the New York Secretary of State is, let’s consider what the position entails exactly.

Put (very) simply, the New York Secretary of State heads up the New York Department of State. The State Department includes several subdivisions like the Office of Planning and Development, the Office of General Counsel, the Division of Licensing Services, and many more. The Department of State also participates in various committees and commissions.  

Generally, Secretaries of State hold administrative roles, overseeing both business-related and non-business-related tasks. And this rings true for the NY Secretary of State, as well. The New York Department of State basically acts as the state’s planning agency. They publish local laws, provide training and assistance to local governments, and invest in initiatives that aid the economic growth and development of communities across the state.

More Practical Examples of the New York Secretary of State’s Duties

Along with overseeing an eclectic mix of organizations like the New York State Athletic Commission and the Amistad Commission, the New York Secretary of State and the Department of State oversee much of the rules and regulations under which small business owners need to operate.

The New York Secretary of State is in charge of all New York State rules and regulations. And, more specifically to small business owners, they also receive and resolve consumer complaints.

Importantly for aspiring-entrepreneur New Yorkers, New York-based corporations and LLCs must file for registration through the New York Department of State. Additionally, businesses can search for funding opportunities and other resources on the NY Department of State website. Finally, the Department of State maintains the searchable Corporation and Business Entity Database, and manages UCC filings.

The Main Reasons to Care About the NY Secretary of State

The New York Secretary of State provides critical information about legally operating your business within the state. Beyond ensuring you’re running your business pursuant to all necessary codes and regulations, the New York Secretary of State can also help your business go above and beyond the bare, legal minimum of staying up and running.

Here are the top seven reasons that small businesses operating in New York should be interacting with the New York Secretary of State on a regular basis:

1. Industry Oversight

Particularly pertinent to certain small business owners, the New York Department of State oversees the licensure, registration, and regulation of 35 professions. They’re also the hub for pretty much all business-related forms you may need to obtain and file, like certificate of status, certificate of assumed name, and trademark registration, for instance. We’ll dive into this in more detail later.

2. Opening a Branch in New York

If you incorporated your business outside of the state of New York, and you want to open a branch in the state of New York, then you’ll need to work with the New York Secretary of State to do so. You’ll need to follow the steps to register as a foreign entity with the New York Department of State to operate your new New York branch legally. If you need this process to move quickly, you can hire a third-party service to expedite this process for you, too. Just know that they’ll be interacting with the New York Secretary of State on your business’s behalf.

3. New York Secretary of State Business Search

The New York Secretary of State manages the New York Department of State Corporation and Business Entity Database. To save yourself the pain of potentially trying to incorporate under an already claimed business name, use the New York Secretary of State business search. If there’s a business that’s already doing business under your chosen name, then it will come up in the results. Use this database before registering your business with the Department of State’s Division of Corporations, State Records, & UCC to ensure you’re not sinking time into a potentially fruitless incorporation process.

New York Secretary of State

4. New York Secretary of State UCC Search

If you’ve ever taken out a business loan with a UCC filing, before applying for a new loan, you should complete a UCC search for your business on the NY Department of State’s Division of Corporations, State Records & UCC. If your previous lender failed to terminate your UCC lien after you paid off your debt in full, you’ll need to file a UCC-3 form to request that termination. You’ll also likely need to be in direct contact with the lender in question if you need them to release a previous lien.

Do know that certain fees are applicable to searching, filing, handling, and requesting copies of UCC forms with the New York Secretary of State? Fees range from $5 to $75, depending on the action you’re taking. Again, because this is such a huge part of how businesses interact with the New York Secretary of State, we’ll dive deeper into the New York Secretary of State UCC search in a later section.

5. Applying for an SBA Loan

If you’re applying for an SBA loan, you’ll need certain entity-specific documents that New York-based businesses will only be able to access through the New York Secretary of State. In many cases, you’ll need to call directly to request documents.

To access your business’s Certificate of Good Standing—one of many SBA loan requirements—you can use the business entity search. With many SBA lenders, you’ll be able to simply send a screenshot of your online business entity search results that state that your business is in good standing. Some SBA lenders might require a physical copy of your New York Secretary of State Certificate of Good Standing, however.

You’ll likely need to request a physical copy of your business’s articles of incorporation from the New York Secretary of State, too. To do so, you’ll need to call in to the New York Secretary of State and probably pay an administrative fee to access them.

As for any UCC filings you might have on your business, SBA lenders will likely perform their own search during their underwriting processes. Most SBA lenders tend to have their own software for finding UCC liens that have been filed on potential borrowers. So, the New York Secretary of State UCC search is mostly for the borrower’s benefit.

6. Government Contracts

Businesses can also seek bid opportunities for state government contract work through the New York State Contract Reporter. Managed by the New York Secretary of State, this database posts contracts of $50,000 or more from state authorities and entities like universities, public benefit corporations, and libraries.

7. Funding Opportunities

Finally, the New York Secretary of State also posts a compilation of grant opportunities for New York businesses on their website. The NY Department of State also offers grant programs for certain local and regional initiatives within New York focused on environmental and community services development.

Does the NY Secretary of State Oversee Your Industry?

Although all New York-based businesses will need to register their businesses through the New York Department of State’s Division of Corporations, State Records, & UCC, the New York Secretary of State does not oversee all industries.

The Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services oversees the licensure, registration, and regulations of 35 professions. The NY Department of States lists all of these industries on their website, but they are as diverse as:

  • Armored car sellers
  • Private investigators
  • Cemeteries (including pet cemeteries)
  • Ticket resellers
  • Estheticians, barbers, and nail technicians
  • Bedding manufacturers

If your business is within one of the 35 industries that the NY Secretary of State oversees, consult the Division of Licensing Services to learn how to secure or renew your required licensure. Keep in mind that these licenses aren’t optional—without proper licenses from the Secretary of State, you can’t legally operate your business in New York.

The New York Secretary of State, the UCC, and Your Business

Many business owners interact with the New York Secretary of State through the processes involving UCC forms, fees, and filings. The UCC—short for Uniform Commercial Code—is a collection of uniform acts passed in almost all states, districts, and territories of the US with the goal of harmonizing commercial law across the country.

One of the New York Secretary of State’s major roles is managing UCC filings. Lenders and creditors file UCC filings with their respective Secretary of State to place a lien on a borrower’s personal or business property as a condition of issuing a loan. The lien allows the lender to lay claim to the relevant assets if the borrower fails to repay their debt, or if they declare bankruptcy.

UCC filings are active for five years, but once your debt is paid in full, your lender should close the lien by filing a UCC termination form with the Secretary of State. However, it’s not always the case that your lender will do so. Having an active UCC lien against you could delay or preempt you from securing another business loan.

New York Secretary of State: Final Thoughts on How This Government Entity Can Help

Now that you’ve made it through our guide to the ins and outs of the New York Secretary of State, you should see now that this government office is about much more than filing papers and searching for business names. In fact, if you want to access an SBA loan, then you’ll need to be pretty familiar with the services and information that the New York Secretary of State offers. And if you want to access a database of state government contracts to bid on and state government grants to apply for, then your one-stop-shop will be the New York Secretary of State website.

Fundera staff writer Maddie Shepherd contributed additional reporting and research for this article.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Caroline Goldstein

Staff Writer at Fundera
Caroline is a small business and finance writer at Fundera. Before coming to Fundera, she received an MFA in Fiction from New York University. She loves finding creative ways to help entrepreneurs grow.

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