Many LLC owners prefer that their personal details aren’t on the public record. One of the major benefits of starting an LLC is the privacy protection it offers owners. You can form an anonymous LLC or only list the registered agent in some states. However, in other states, the owner of an LLC is on public record.
When you need to answer, “Is the owner of an LLC public record?” The answer depends on where the LLC was formed. If you’re trying to reach a business owner, there are ways to find that information. Read on to learn how to find owner information on LLCs.
Understanding an LLC and Its Ownership Structure
A limited liability company, or LLC, is a legal business entity separate from its owners. An LLC offers its owners, called members, liability protection. An LLC blends some of the characteristics of a corporation along with some characteristics of a sole proprietorship or partnership.
Who owns an LLC? An LLC can have one or more members. A single-member LLC, as the name implies, has one member. A multi-member LLC has two or more members. There’s no limit on how many members an LLC can have.
An LLC can be member-managed or manager-managed. In a manager-managed LLC, members don’t participate in the day-to-day management of the LLC. In a member-managed LLC, the members are directly involved in the company’s day-to-day management. Whether an LLC is member-managed or manager-managed is outlined in the LLC’s operating agreement.
States Where LLC Owners Are Public Record
In 24 states and Washington DC, LLCs must include the names of all the members as part of the public record. In these states, you must disclose all LLC members, usually in the formation documents or Articles of Organization. The states where LLC owners are public record include:
- District of Columbia
- Maine (at least one member is disclosed)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
In 20 other states, you only need to list the organizer of the LLC, which can be a registered agent, accountant, lawyer, family member, or LLC member.
States Where LLC Owners Are Anonymous
Is there a best state to start an LLC? If you need privacy, there are four states that allow anonymous LLCs: Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
In addition, many states only require you to list the LLC organizer so the owners can remain anonymous. If you want to protect the identity of the registered agent or anyone associated with the business, you can use a commercial registered agent service. States where you only need to list the LLC organizer include:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
How to Find the Owner of an LLC?
If you need to find the owner of an LLC, there are a few simple steps you need to take, starting with a business entity search. Here are the steps you can take to find LLC owners.
1. Conduct a Business Entity Search
If you know the state where the LLC was formed, you can start by conducting a business entity search. You can usually find a business entity search on the Secretary of State’s website. You can also submit a request with the local government office where the business entity is located or registered. In some states, business licenses may also be public records.
2. Check the LLC Operating Agreement
If you’re a member of an LLC or have access to an operating agreement, it will outline the members, their roles, and responsibilities. It will also include each member’s percentage of ownership and share of profits or losses.
In the operating agreement, if necessary, you can also find information about members’
voting rights and responsibilities, distribution of profits and losses, and buyout and buy-sell rules.
3. Contact the Secretary of State’s Office
If you’re unable to find the owners of the LLC through a database search, reaching out to the Secretary of State’s office in the state where the LLC is registered can help you find out the owner of the LLC.
4. Contact the Registered Agent
The registered agent may have information about the LLC owner or be able to direct you to the appropriate source. By law, the registered agent’s address and contact information is on the public record. You can contact the registered agent by phone or email or go to the registered office during regular business hours.
5. Search Online Directories and Websites
There are numerous online directories and websites that collect information about businesses and their owners. You can search online. Many of these directories will charge a small fee, but if you haven’t gotten the LLC owner’s information in any other way, it can be worth it.
6. Utilize Social Media and Online Platforms
Owners of LLCs may have a presence on social media or professional networking platforms that can provide clues or direct contact information. For example, owners may list company ownership as a professional position on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
Protecting Your Privacy with an LLC
If you want to form an LLC to protect your privacy as an owner, doola business formation services offer fast, easy, and reliable formation in all 50 states, including Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming. If you’re the owner of an LLC and need to stay legally compliant, doola can ensure that after formation, you maintain accurate records for compliance.
Get doola to help form your company, get your EIN, open a business bank account, and stay up to date, so you can focus on building your business
Can anyone find out who owns an LLC?
While anyone can try to find out who owns an LLC, whether that information is easily accessible depends on the state where the LLC was formed. If the LLC wasn’t formed in one of the four states that allow anonymous LLCs, you can access the information through the Secretary of State, the registered agent, or online directories.
How can I find out the specific LLC ownership regulations in my state?
You can find specific LLC ownership regulations by contacting the Secretary of State where you live or where the LLC is formed. The information is also available in most states on the Secretary of State’s website.
Are there any instances where LLC ownership becomes a public record?
In 25 states, LLC ownership is a matter of public record. Even in states where it’s not required, you may be able to find information about an LLC’s ownership through the Secretary of State, registered agent, or online search.
What is a nominee?
A nominee for an LLC serves as a public representative for the limited liability company to keep the owners’ identities private
Can I use a trust to maintain privacy?
A trust can be a good option if you want to maintain privacy about your financial status. Trusts are discrete legal entities, so a public records search will usually exclude assets under a trust’s control, offering a layer of privacy.