How to Find LLC Owners
Some states have straightforward ways to look up LLC owners. Other states, however, afford LLC owners more privacy. In either case, we’ve detailed the most effective ways to find an LLC owner below.
What is the Owner of an LLC Called?
The owners of an LLC are called members. When you are trying to determine the owner of an LLC, you will likely need to look for anyone who goes by the title “member” to be sure that you’ve located the owner. Note that members don’t have to be human beings. It is possible to have business or legal entities—corporations and trusts, for instance—that are owners of an LLC.
You might also come across the title of “manager.” Without context, you can’t really be sure that this is one of the owners. If this person was an external hire, they’re not an owner. However, they could be an owner who happened to be appointed internally as a manager. Basically, it would be a pretty big assumption that anyone labeled manager is also an owner—you can’t be certain of that based solely on the title.
4 Ways to Look Up LLC Owners
Your best bet is to start with the public state records required to form and maintain an LLC. Then, if necessary, work your way down to directly contacting the company and digging into alternative public records.
LLCs submit articles of organization and other public filings with the state’s Secretary of State office or a comparable state agency. Because these documents often require members to be listed, a state business database where you can do a business name search is a great place to start. Not sure which state department to check? We’ve put together a list of links to every state’s business name search tool, but in general, you can usually find a searchable database with the following steps:
Visit the local Secretary of State’s website. Look for the “Business” tab—sometimes the tab will be marked as “Search Businesses,” “Business Entity,” or even “Corporation” (yes, it’s a tad misleading, but in states like Florida, all business entities can be found under that umbrella).
Search for the LLC name. Click the appropriate tab and you should be directed to a search box or several search boxes with advanced options. Type in the name of the LLC you are looking for and search! You might find multiple similar organizations. The one you are looking for should include ‘LLC’ in its name. For instance, if you were to navigate to Nevada’s Secretary of State website and try to find any business entity with “Starbucks” in its name, you’d find at least 10 business entities but only a couple are LLCs.
Access the state documents. These are often found under “filing history” and will include the articles of organization, as well as any amendments or reports.Be sure to look at the most current information—recent amendments or reports might include changes to membership. Look for anybody whose title is “member” and you have located an owner of the LLC.
If, instead, you find only the “registered agent” or a “manager,” these are not necessarily the titles of owners. Granted, owners could be their own registered agents and, in some circumstances, a manager might be one of the owners, but that’s not always the case. You would need to confirm ownership in one of the other ways listed below.
You can often submit an information request form through the Secretary of State’s website. This request might be called “Public Records Disclosure” or something along those lines, and while most states allow you to submit your request electronically, you might have to submit your request via snail mail. Either way, it might take a few weeks to get a response, but generally, that response will indicate the names of that LLC’s owners.
Again, though, some states will provide you very limited information. Also, copying fees may apply in some states—like Washington and Nevada, to name a couple—unless you request an appointment to review the records in-person.
This might seem obvious enough, but if searching the Secretary of State’s database leaves you empty-handed, you can sometimes pinpoint the owners by checking the site’s “About Us” page or sifting through the personnel directory.
Note that some LLCs might use officer titles, making it difficult to distinguish between the actual owners and any managers who, though not owners, still oversee operations. If you have a name of a potential member, you may have some luck reviewing the individual’s business social media, such as their LinkedIn profile, for more details. And if you’re willing to reach out, you might contact the company directly and ask for the information.
If all else fails and you don’t mind digging a little deeper, there are alternative public records that can point you in the direction of the LLC owner. If that LLC has borrowed money or sold property, then there will likely be a deed or deed of trust. Those tend to be public record, and you can find them through the county recorder’s office. If the county does not publish this information on the web, you can usually go directly to the county clerk in person and request to view a copy of property records.
Look through the records and try to locate a representative’s signature—you’ll usually find a name and title below the signature. Or you can check the notary’s acknowledgment if the printed name and title are illegible. You might just end up finding a lawyer or a manager signing on behalf of the LLC, but quite often you’ll stumble upon an owner’s name.
Finding LLC Owners FAQ
When would I need to know who the owners of an LLC are?
If money is changing hands between you and an LLC, you might want to confirm that the owners of that LLC can be trusted. Or maybe you’re a lawyer, a debt collector, a competitor—point is, there are quite a few situations in which you might want to know the identity of an LLC owner (or owners).
Working with property management companies, for instance, is a common situation in which you’d want to know who owns the LLC. These companies often have multiple properties, each property with its own respective LLC, and you might want to dig into those LLCs to be sure that the owners are consistently reputable.
How many owners can an LLC have?
An LLC can have multiple owners. In most cases, there is no upper limit to the number of members an LLC can have. However, an exception arises when it comes to how an LLC chooses to be taxed—if your LLC files as an S corporation, then your membership is capped at 100.
So if you’re trying to identify the owner, don’t be surprised if you instead find several owners.
Can an LLC owner also be their own registered agent?
What LLC information is public vs private?
Public: In most states, public information includes the names and addresses of your registered agent, organizers, and members or managers. This information is available from state filings such as articles of organization and annual reports.
Private: Tax and financial records are typically private (a notable exception is public benefit LLCs, which are required to submit more detailed benefit reports).
Note that member names and address are not required in all states. For instance, LLCs formed in New Mexico, Wyoming and Delaware do not need to include member info in their formation documents, making it more difficult to find owners.
How can I protect my privacy as an LLC owner?
Starting off right is essential. The state where you choose to form your LLC matters, as public filing requirements vary significantly. And because registered agent and organizer names and addresses are public, it’s useful to avoid having a member fulfill these roles. Hiring a registered agent and business formation service—particularly one that allows you to use their address throughout your public filings—can increase privacy significantly.
Now that you know how to find an LLC owner…