Corporation Section Frequently Asked Questions
Searching The Corporate Registration Information System (CRIS)
- What information is available?
- Officer & Director Information
- Status, Status Dates & Transactions
- How do I get the forms to file?
- Do I need an attorney to help me file Articles of Incorporation?
- How long does it take to get articles filed?
- I sent in articles for filing and have not heard anything yet
- How do I expedite something?
- What types of Entities are filed at your office?
- What is the difference between a corporation and an LLC?
- Name Availability & Reservation
- When is the Name Reservation form used?
- What if I do not want to reserve the name?
- I do not want to incorporate, but I want to register my company name. Where can I register my company name?
- I am starting a business/ planning on incorporating/ want to change my corporate name and I would like to know if the name is available.
How do I Obtain a Tax ID Number
- How do I get the form for a sub "S" or sub "C" corporation?
- How do I obtain Officer/Director information or a copy of Articles of Incorporation for a Corporation?
- How do I get a Corporations status?
- I discovered that my corporation is "delinquent." What does that mean, how did it occur and how can I cure that condition?
- What if I need the owner's name?
- What is a Registered Agent and what do they have to do?
- What if we change our registered agent and/or office?
- What other services do you provide?
- What are the service fees?
- I would like to do some research on my own on what is involved in starting a business.
- How do I file dissolution for a domestic corporation and/or limited liability company?
- How do I file withdrawal for a foreign corporation and/or limited liability company?
- Why don't I get a "Received" time stamp on the front page of my filing?
- How can I correct a mistake I made on a form?
Searching The Corporate Registration Information System (CRIS)
What information is available?
- reflects information extracted from charter documents (such as articles of incorporation, articles of amendment, application for registration, etc.) CRIS does not contain actual charter documents.
- provides a chronology of charter document filings and status changes.
- indicates the current and previous status(es) of an entity
- provides the locator number of annual reports filed by the entity.
- entities in existence on, or created since January 1st, 1977
- CRIS does not contain names/addresses of officers or directors, or any telephone numbers.
- CRIS information is updated daily.
Entities on Record
Wisconsin and licensed foreign (out-of-state)
- Business corporations
- Nonstock corporations (including domestic veterans organizations and Catholic congregations)
- Cooperative associations
- Limited partnerships
- Limited liability companies
- Limited liability partnerships
- Common Law Trusts
General Partnerships are not required to be on record and Sole proprietors are not on record with DFI; both, may not be on record in
any public office.
"Religious societies," organized under sec. 187.01, Stats., are on record with the Register of Deeds of the county within which their principal office is located
Contact the department at 608-261-7577 for guidance on obtaining information on entities dissolved, merged or withdrawn prior to 01/01/1977.
Please read the disclaimer.Top of Page
Officer, Director and Member Information?
The name and address of an entity's officers and directors appears on the annual report it files with this Department. At this time, it is not available on the CRIS Web site. Domestic and foreign business and nonstock corporations, and domestic and foreign limited liability companies are obliged to file an annual report. The members of domestic limited liability companies are not on record with this Department. Not all entities are required to file an annual report. Accordingly, there is no information on record with respect to the officers, directors or members of limited partnerships.
You may obtain a copy of an entity’s most recent annual report (or other annual reports) by placing an order through our Online Order System at: www.wdfi.org/apps/oos/
Or, you may obtain a copy of an entity's most recent annual report (or other annual reports) by submitting a letter request with the $5 service fee, or by filling out and submitting the Certificate of Status and Simple/Certified Copywork with the $5 service fee, for each report requested. Address the request to:Department of Financial Institutions
Division of Corporate & Consumer Services
P O Box 7846
Madison Wisconsin 53707-7846 Top of Page
Status, Status Dates & Transactions
"Status" means the entity's condition in relation to the statutory law under which it is formed or governed. Conditions are characteristics indicating, for example, that an entity has been formed and is in existence; that it is current with its annual report filing requirement; that it has been voluntarily or involuntarily dissolved, or that its name is reserved. The CRIS status is not an assessment of the entity's financial condition, stability, or business practices.
"Transaction" is a specific action or event, such as the filing of articles of incorporation or amendment, or revocation of certificate of authority.
A line entry on the Chronology page may represent a transaction, such as the filing of articles of incorporation or an amendment, or the establishment of a status, such as "DLQ – Delinquent," indicating an entity has not filed its required annual report. A single entry may have the character of both a transaction and a status. For example, an entry coded as "DIS" is both a transaction (the filing of articles of dissolution) and a status (reflecting the entity as dissolved).
Common Transaction and Status Codes
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Annual Report Locator #
The number identifying an annual report on record for the entity. For example, 1987 057 1714 means report year 1987, film reel 057 and image 1714 on that reel. A number with zeros for the reel and image (i.e., 2002 000 0000) represents an electronically filed Annual Report. The year of that number indicates the report year for which it was filed.
An entity organized under the laws of Wisconsin
The individual who determines the language of the document and the arrangement of that language (construction) within the document.
"Registered Effective Date" or "Effective Date" means the date the domestic entity was created or the foreign entity was licensed in Wisconsin.
On the CHRONOLOGY panel, "effective date" means the date a document, transaction or status is treated as effective. The date may be earlier, be the same as, or be later than the "Filed" date of a document.
A foreign or domestic corporation, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited liability company appearing on CRIS
The date the document was examined, accepted and "Filed" by the department.
An entity organized under the laws of a state or country other than Wisconsin
Foreign Org Date
The date indicated by the foreign entity as the date it was formed in its state of organization
The postal code abbreviation for the state under whose laws the entity is organized. If the designation "XX" appears, the entity is organized under the laws of a state or country other than the United States.
The file number assigned to the record by Department of Financial Institutions
A limited liability company has members (similar to a partnership) who may directly manage the company or who may vest management in one or more managers. Managers need not be members of the limited liability company.
A person who signs and delivers the articles of organization for filing to the Department of Financial Institutions. A limited liability company may have more than one organizer.
Paid Capital Representation
A foreign corporation pays a fee based on the proportion of its capital represented in Wisconsin. The capital on which fee has been paid is expressed in $1,000's. $00000083M, for example, indicates that the corporation has paid fee on a capital representation of $83,000.
The location of the entity's principal executive offices
The numerical code assigned to a type of entity
01, 02, 05, 06, 09, 10 and 16 are corporations
03 and 04 are cooperative associations
07 and 08 are limited partnerships
12 and 13 are limited liability companies
14, 15, 24 and 25 are limited liability partnerships
17 and 18 are General Partnerships (optional registration)
90 is a name registered by an foreign entity not licensed to transact business in Wisconsin
96, 98 and 99 are reserved names
11 is a special type or class of entity
The person designated by the entity to receive service of process and other official communications on its behalf
The business office of the entity's registered agent
Status and Status Date
The status of the entity and the date that status was established. (See " Status, Status Dates and Transactions " in the previous section.)
UNL FGN CORP
An Unlicensed Foreign Corporation
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How do I get the forms to file?
The department publishes forms for almost every type of transaction. They are available on the forms page.
Forms in hard copy format may be requested from
Div. of Corporate & Consumer Services
P O Box 7846,
Madison WI, 53707-7846
Indicate your mailing address and the type of transaction for which you need the form. Forms are not available via FAX because of poor image quality.
Do I need an attorney to help me file Articles of Incorporation?
Your situation will dictate whether or not you need an attorney, but
it is not mandatory that you engage an attorney. The department has forms
and instructions available, but cannot offer legal advice. The persons
forming the business have the responsibility to select the appropriate
type of entity (corporation, LLC, limited partnership, etc.) to use.
A lawyer can offer professional guidance in making this decision and in organizing the entity.
How long does it take to get articles filed?
Generally, charter documents are acted on within five working days after their receipt. During periods of high volume filing (end of calendar and fiscal years), delays in some types of transactions may occur. If you need your transaction completed sooner than that, you may request Expedited Service for an additional $25 fee.
I sent in articles for filing and have not heard anything yet
Most transactions are acted on within five working days following their receipt by the department. You may call the department to confirm that a document has been received (608-261-7577), but its acceptance cannot be determined until it has been examined.
How do I expedite something?
Deliver your charter document or service request with an additional $25.00 Expedited Service fee for each transaction. Mark the request conspicuously "FOR EXPEDITED SERVICE". Expedited service requests are acted on by the close of business the following business day.
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What types of Entities are filed at your office?
- Business Corporations
- Nonstock (Not-for Profit) Corporations
- Limited Partnerships
- Limited Liability Companies
- Limited Liability Partnerships
- General Partnership (optional registration)
- Common Law Trusts
- Foreign (out-of-state) entities of the same types, licensed to transact business in Wisconsin
- Unincorporated Cooperative Associations
- Veterans organizations
- Certain types of religious corporations
Sole Proprietorships can register their business name by filing a registration of Tradename. See our Trademark and Tradename page for more information. The application form for Registration is also on our website. If you have questions, you may contact the Trademark section at the Department of Financial Institutions at PO Box 7847, Madison WI 53707-7847, or by phone at 608-266-8915.
What is the difference between a corporation and an LLC?
A corporation is a general-purpose entity in which management is exercised by a board of directors elected by shareholders. "Ownership" in a corporation is reflected in the shares held by the individual shareholder.
A limited liability company has members (similar to a partnership) who may directly manage the company or who may vest management in one or more managers. It combines features of a partnership and a corporation. "Ownership" of the LLC is reflected in the individual "member's interest," i.e., the member's share of the profit and losses of the company, rights to receive distribution of assets, and to participate in the management of the company.
Please read about Business Entity Types on our website.
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An Aid to Creating a Name for a Wisconsin Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership or Limited Liability Partnership
Two different name availability standards apply to filings with this department. One requires a name to be "distinguishable upon the records of the Department of Financial Institutions." This applies to filings made under chapters 178, 180, 181, and 183 (domestic and foreign corporations, limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships.) The other, which prohibits a name from being the "same as or deceptively similar" to another name, applies to domestic and foreign limited partnerships (Ch. 179). A charter document or application must specify the statutory authority under which the entity is being created or the name reservation is sought (e.g., Ch. 179, Ch. 183, etc.)General Guidelines
Name Availability Standard Under Chs. 178, 180, 181, or 183
Name Availability Under Ch. 179
Avoid prohibited or restricted words
The word "insurance" is prohibited in a corporate name filed with the department unless the name makes clear that the corporation is not an insurance company. Corporate names that use words to describe or convey the impression that the corporation is engaged in the practice of architecture, professional engineering or designing must comply with the requirements of Ch. 443, Wis. Stats. (Contact Dept of Safety and Professional Services, (608) 266-5511) for details.) The word "cooperative" may be used only in the name of a cooperative association formed under Ch. 185, Wis. Stats., and may not be used by other business or nonprofit corporations.
NOTE: Entrepreneurs have several ways to designate use of a business name in Wisconsin. Incorporation or formation of a corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership or limited liability partnership requires filing with this department. Other methods, such as use of a tradename or sole proprietorship, involve optional registration or no filing at all. Accordingly, this department does not have record of all business names in use in Wisconsin. Moreover, filing for incorporation or other registration with this department does not provide absolute protection of a name against claims by persons who can establish prior rights to use of an identical or similar name. In choosing a name for your entity, we strongly suggest that you apply to the department for a name reservation and that you also review trade publications, telephone books, business directories and other resources that may show business names used by enterprises similar to your own.
Avoid words that are considered indistinguishable.
- Possessives and plurals
- Insignificant words (The, And, Of)
- Numbers and Letters (1/One)
- Generic words (corporation, incorporated, company, limited, cooperative,limited partnership, or
- abbreviations of those words, or abbreviations of "Wisconsin."
Reserve a Name
If time allows, apply to reserve a name prior to submitting the articles of incorporation/organization or name change amendment. Submit Form 1 or letter application. Refer to application for appropriate fee.
Submit an Alternative Name
In a letter accompanying the document you submit for filing, provide a second choice name and authorize application of this alternative if your first choice name is not available. If your document has been rejected due to a name conflict, select a name that is dissimilar from the one that first caused your document and name choice to be rejected.
An entity's name must be "distinguishable upon the records of the Department of Financial Institutions" from the name of any other corporation, cooperative, limited liability company, limited partnership, or limited liability partnership on such records. It must be written in English letters or Arabic or Roman numerals. The Department may not restrict or prohibit the use of an entity's name for any reason not related to these standards.
Distinguishable on the Records (Acceptable)
- Transfer Technology Corp. - - - Technology Transfer Inc.
- Small Business Services, Inc. - - - Small Business Systems, Inc.
- Roberts Construction, LLC - - - Roberts Construction Assoc., LLC
- Smith Carriers, Inc. - - - New Smith Carriers, Inc.
Indistinguishable on the Records (Not Acceptable)
- A.A.A. Cleaners Company - - - AAA Cleaners Inc.
- Amer Inc. - - - Amer Co., Inc.
- ABC, Limited Liability Company - - - ABC, Corporation
- Business Machines Limited - - - Business Machines LLC
The name of a corporation (except a service corporation under Ch. 180, Subchapter XIX) must contain the word "corporation", "incorporated", "limited", or "company" or the abbreviation "corp.", "inc.", "co." or "ltd.", or comparable words or abbreviations of like meaning in another language. The corporate name of a service corporation must end with the words "service corporation", "limited" or "chartered" or the abbreviation "ltd." or "SC". The name of a limited liability company must contain the words "limited liability company" or "limited liability co." or end with the abbreviation "L.L.C." or "LLC". The name of a limited liability partnership, or any fictitious name it may adopt, must contain the words "Registered Limited Liability Partnership" or "Limited Liability Partnership" or end with the abbreviation "L.L.P." Or"LLP". The term "cooperative," or an abbreviation thereof, may be used only by a cooperative association organized under Ch. 185 and may not be used by entities not so organized.
The name of a limited partnership may not be "the same as or deceptively similar" to that of any other domestic or licensed foreign corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership, or limited liability partnership on file with the department. Because the similarity of name is not limited to the records of the department, consideration must be given to whether a limited partnership name may look or sound like that of another entity. In addition, the location of the proposed limited partnership and the type of activity in which it will engage may be a factor in determining the likelihood of deception or confusion under this name standard.
- Not Deceptively Similar (Acceptable)
- Halifax Wholesale Limited Partnership - - - Halifax Outlet Limited Partnership
- Ford Dealers Association, Limited Partnership - - - Wisconsin Dealers Association, Ltd.
- Walworth Parks Committee Limited Partnership - - - Park Users of Walworth, LLC
Deceptively Similar (Not Acceptable)
- St. Croix County Development Limited Partnership - - - St. Croix Development Limited Partnership
- Selkirk, Huxtable and Simmons Limited Partnership - - - Selkirk, Huxtable, Simmons & Assoc. Limited Partnership
- Contractor's Funding Limited Partnership - - - Contracting Fund Limited Partnership
When is the Name Reservation form used?
One intending to create a new entity (corporation, LLC, etc.) or anticipating applying for a certificate of authority for a foreign entity (foreign corporation, LLC, etc.) may want to determine that the name they intend to use is available for use in Wisconsin. For a variety of reasons, the organizers of a new entity may not want to reveal themselves until they file their organizational instrument, but do want to know that the name they intend to use will be available. Our clerks may provide verbal information on name availability, but the pool of available names changes hourly. The fact that the name is available today does not mean that it will be available the next day, because, in the interim, another filing may have been made with DFI using the name.
Accordingly, reserving the name has the dual function of determining that the name is available, and forestalling any other party from adopting that name for the term of the name reservation. This is of utility to the organizers of a new entity, to an existing entity changing its corporate name, and to a foreign entity intending to transact business in Wisconsin.
What if I do not want to reserve the name?
Just submit your articles of incorporation or name change amendment and we will perform a name availability search at that time. You may supply a "second choice" name you would accept if your first choice is not available. If neither name is available, the document will be returned for you to select another name.
I do not want to incorporate, but I want to register my company name. Where can I register my company name?
You may file a statement with the county Register of Deeds, or file a trade-name registration with the Department of Financial Institutions. See our Trademark and Tradename page for more information. The application form for Registration is also on our website. If you have questions, you may contact the Trademark section at the Department of Financial Institutions at PO Box 7847, Madison WI 53707-7847, or by phone at 608-266-8915.
Generally, registering a name does not establish exclusive rights to use of a name or preclude others from registering the same or a similar name.
I am starting a business/ planning on incorporating/ want to change my corporate name and I would like to know if the name is available.
You can see the names already in use by searching our Corporate Registration Information System - CRIS.
Or, you may call the Corporation Section at 608-261-7577 and ask our clerk to perform a search. The results of verbal searches are tentative, because the pool of available names changes daily and our operators do not have all information available to them. To confirm the availability of a name, make written Name Reservation Application.
No name should be assumed to be available until you have received written confirmation that your articles of incorporation or name change amendment has been examined and accepted ("FILED") by the department.
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How do I Obtain a Tax ID Number
Where do I get a Sellers permit?
Sellers permits are handled by the Department of Revenue. For more information read Sales and Use Tax Frequently Asked Questions at the Department of Revenue.
How do I get a "tax number" (FEIN)?
Employer Identification Numbers are handled with the IRS. Please read the publication Understanding Your EIN - Employer Identification Numbers.
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Where do I get a Sellers permit?
How do I get the form for a sub "S" or sub "C" corporation?
Sub. "C" and sub. "S" refer to subsections of the Internal Revenue Code signifying the federal tax status of a corporation. Articles of incorporation are filed with this department in the usual manner, but you need to contact IRS to have the corporation specifically recognized as a sub "C" or sub "S" corporation.
Please read frequently asked questions for Small Business/Self-Employed/Other Business at the IRS. You can reach IRS by phone at 1-800-829-1040 or at the IRS website.
How do I obtain Officer/Director information or a copy of Articles of Incorporation for a Corporation?
Corporations file Articles of Incorporation and an Annual Report with this department, and statements to keep their officer/director and registered agent/registered office information current. Search Corporate Registration Information System - CRIS to see what documents are on file. To obtain a copy of articles of incorporation and/or the most recently filed annual report, place an order through our Online Order System or submit a request on Certificate of Status and Simple/Certified Copywork.
NOTE: The department's records do not contain information concerning the officers, directors, members, managers or shareholders of LLC's, limited partnerships, or limited liability partnerships, sole proprietors, general partnerships, or business conducted under assumed names.
How do I get a Corporations status?
This office will give verbal status over the phone, from our general number at 608-261-7577. You may also determine the status yourself by looking up the corporation using the Corporate Registration Information System - CRIS.
If you need written confirmation of a corporation's status, place an order online at www.wdfi.org/apps/ccs/ or enter a request for a "Certificate of Status" using Certificate of Status and Simple/Certified Copywork.
I discovered that my corporation is "delinquent." What does that mean, how did it occur and how can I cure that condition?
A corporation goes delinquent because it failed to file its required annual report with this department. If a corporation is allowed to continue in delinquent status for an extended period, it runs the risk of being administratively dissolved.
Delinquent status may be cured by filing a current annual report and paying the back annual report fees. Call (608) 261-7577, provide the name and current address of your corporation and ask to be sent the appropriate forms to correct the delinquent status.
What if I need the owner's name?
Organizations are not required to reveal ownership information to this department. Corporations are obliged to file an annual report with the department, indicating the name and address of its officers and directors, but no information is disclosed with respect to the shareholders ("owners") of the corporation.
What is a Registered Agent and what do they have to do?
The registered agent is the person, resident in Wisconsin, designated by the corporation to receive official communications on its behalf, such as service of process, annual report forms, tax forms, etc. It may be an officer or employee of the corporation, or someone not directly involved, such as an attorney. It is important to keep the registered agent and registered office information current, as significant consequences could arise for failure to receive and act on important papers sent to the corporation's registered agent.
The physical address of the corporation's registered agent's business office is the corporation's "registered office."
What if we change our registered agent and/or office?
A corporation may change its registered agent or registered office by appropriately noting the change on its annual report filed with DFI, or by separately filing a Form 13 - Registered Agent and/or Registered Office Change
What other services do you provide?
For a fee, the department will supply a certified copy of any filed document or issue a statement concerning the status of any entity on record.
The Corporate Registration Information System (CRIS) has some basic file information on 704,741 active and inactive entities.
Elements of the CRIS database are collected into a "Corporation Master File" available for purchase on CD. The file contains much of the information available on CRIS, but does not reflect officer/director information.
Verbal information on records, basic filing procedures and fees are provided by a Telephone/Reception unit operating during business hours.
What are the service fees?
- Certificates of status - $10
- Certified Copywork - $10
- Simple copywork - $5 per document.
I would like to do some research on my own on what is involved in starting a business.
Start with The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center, a statewide network supporting entrepreneurs and business owners through no-cost, confidential consulting and targeted educational programs.
How do I file dissolution for a domestic business or nonstock corporation and/or limited liability company?
Dissolution of a business or nonstock corporation or limited liability company (LLC) cannot be accomplished on the Annual Report filing. You must file Articles of Dissolution to legally dissolve the entity.
If the business or nonstock corporation or LLC is in delinquent status, you are required to pay any and all back fees due the department at the time of dissolution in addition to the filing fee for the Articles of Dissolution.
For a nonstock Corporation, you will need Form 110.
How do I file withdrawal for a foreign corporation and/or limited liability company?
A foreign corporation or limited liability company (LLC) no longer conducting business in Wisconsin may file a Form 24 or Form 524, respectively, to withdraw its Certificate of Authority/Registration.
For foreign Corporations, you will need Form 24.
For foreign LLCs, you will need Form 524.
Why don't I get a "Received" time stamp on the front page of my filing?
Effective immediately, the "Received" date of documents will be set forth on the Endorsement page of the "Filed" documents.
How can I correct a mistake I made on a form?
Domestic and foreign corporations, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships may correct a document that was filed by the department if the document contains a statement that was incorrect at the time of filing or if the document was defectively executed, including defects in any attestation, seal, verification or acknowledgement.
Articles of Correction may not be used to cancel or undo filed Articles of Dissolution or any other previously filed document.
To make a correction, file Articles of Correction Form 53.
Department of Financial Institutions
Division of Corporate and Consumer Services
Madison WI 53707
Express Mail Address:
Madison WI 53705
Corporate Information Line 608-261-7577
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