Get a Letter of Good Standing from Your State

Letter of Good Standing
6
min read
July 26, 2021

As a business owner, you know how important it is to gain trust—to instill confidence in your customers, employees, and vendors that you’re an ethical, dependable, and honorable business.

But unfortunately, trust is hard to come by. Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer Special Report found that only one-third of consumers trust most of the brands they buy.

There’s no quick trick or hack to prove that you’re authentic, upright, and deserving of faith from others. However, a letter of good standing is a step in the right direction toward demonstrating that your business plays by all of the rules. 

What Is a Letter of Good Standing?

A letter of good standing is a legal document that confirms that your business has complied with your state’s rules and regulations, such as registering a business entity, paying your business taxes, and generally checking all of your state’s boxes.

Different states have different terms, so you might also hear this referred to as a certificate of good standing, a certificate of existence, or a certificate of status. 

Where Can I Get a Letter Good Standing From My State?

This document is issued by the state agency your business is registered with.

In most places, this is the state’s Secretary of State office. However, states have different names for this agency as well, such as the Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Corporations, Business Registration Division, and more.

Not sure where you should look? Simply search “letter of good standing + [your state name]” to find out where you can request this certificate. Or check out this list:

Where to Get a Letter of Good Standing
StateCost*
Alabama Secretary of State$28
Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development$10
Arizona Corporation Commission$45
Arkansas Secretary of State$28
California Secretary of State$5
Colorado Secretary of StateFree
Connecticut Secretary of State$50
Delaware Division of Corporations$50
Florida Department of State$8.75 for corporations; $5 for LLCs
Georgia Secretary of State$10
Hawaii Business Registration Division, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs$7.50
Idaho Secretary of State$11.50
Illinois Secretary of State$47
Indiana Secretary of State$21.42
Iowa Secretary of State$5
Kansas Secretary of State$15
Kentucky Secretary of State$10
Louisiana Secretary of State$20
Maine Secretary of State$30
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation$40
Massachusetts Corporations Division, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts$15
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs$12.50
Minnesota Secretary of State$15
Mississippi Secretary of State$27
Missouri Secretary of State$10
Montana Secretary of State$5
Nebraska Secretary of State$10
Nevada Secretary of State$50
New Hampshire Secretary of State$5
New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services$25, $50, or $100, based on your business entity and type of certificate
New Mexico Secretary of State$50 for-profit corporations;$25 LLCs;$10 non-profit corporations
New York Department of State$25
North Carolina Secretary of State$12
North Dakota Secretary of State$15 for partnerships; $20 for other business entities
Ohio Secretary of State$5
Oklahoma Secretary of State$20
Oregon Secretary of State$10
Pennsylvania Department of State$40
Rhode Island Department of State$22 online;$20 for regular processing
South Carolina Secretary of State$10
South Dakota Secretary of State$20
Tennessee Secretary of State$20 by mail;$22.25 online
Texas Secretary of State$15
Utah State Tax Commission$12
Vermont Secretary of State$25
Virginia State Corporation Commission$6
Washington Secretary of State$20
Washington, D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs$16.50
West Virginia Secretary of State$10
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions$10
Wyoming Secretary of StateFree

*Cost subject to change.

Is a Certificate of Good Standing Required For Businesses? 

Generally, this isn’t a requirement for businesses—but be aware that you might be asked for one anyway (more on that a little later). 

However, it’s important to note that actually registering your business is likely still required. Obtaining a certificate of good standing is a separate process, often with a separate application process and fee. 

Whether or not you need to formally register your business entity will depend on your location and your business type. For example, sole proprietorships don’t need to register their businesses with the appropriate state agencies. 

However, if you have a different business structure like a limited liability corporation (LLC), partnership, limited liability partnership (LLP), nonprofit, or corporation, then you’ll most likely want to register to get all of the legal and tax benefits of having an established business. Again, your state will determine whether or not registration is a requirement. 

What Is this Certificate or Letter Used For?

Keep in mind that this simply documents that your business abides by the various rules of your state. While having one isn’t a requirement, you could be asked for one in a variety of scenarios, including:

How Do You Get a Letter of Good Standing? 

The process of obtaining this document is another thing that will differ between states. However, it typically involves filling out an application or submitting a written request to your state agency, along with paying a fee to get the actual certificate.

Let’s look at New York as just one example. On their Division of Corporations website, they explain that a written request should include:

Those are the requirements for New York, and they could be slightly different in your state. But typically, obtaining a letter of good standing involves submitting some basic information about your business and paying a small fee. 

Does This Letter Ever Expire?

Yes, your certificate will expire. Expiration dates can vary by state, but a good rule of thumb is that most letters of good standing are only valid somewhere in the range of 30 to 90 days. 

Keep in mind that some professionals or organizations—like a bank or a lender, as one example—might have different regulations for what letters of good standing they’ll accept. They might want one that has been issued in the past 30 or 60 days, instead of 90.

How Much Does This Letter Cost?

The cost of a certificate of good standing will vary based on the state where you’re applying and your business entity type. Fees typically range from free to $100. 

Check with your state office to get the specifics on how much you’ll need to pay to apply for and receive your letter. 

What if Your Business Loses Its Good Standing?

As you might suspect, it’s possible for your business to lose its good standing if it fails to file required reports or forms or pay necessary fees or state taxes. When that happens, your business will be marked as “void,” “suspended,” “dissolved,” or “delinquent” in your state’s official records.

So, can you get your good standing back? Yes. 

This process is called reinstatement, and it will require that you submit the necessary forms and fees and abide by all regulations in order to bring your business back to compliance. 

Examples of Certificates of Good Standing

Are you tired of us saying that things depend on what state you’re located in? Well, it’s true. Exactly what information appears on certificates of good standing will vary from state to state. 

At their most basic, they’ll include:

...and that’s really it. It’s a fairly straightforward, single-sided document. If you want to see samples of the official documents, you can view examples from each state right here

Trust Is Hard To Gain, But This Document Can Help

Here’s the bottom line: Trust is undeniably important in order for a business to succeed, but there’s no easy way to get it. It takes time, effort, and consistent demonstration that your business is worthy of that loyalty and faithfulness.

The good news is that a certificate of good standing can bump up your trustworthiness by formally documenting that you’re meeting all of the business requirements of your state. And even better? Getting this certificate is relatively easy.

Use this as your guide, and you’re on your way to having some tangible proof that your business does everything aboveboard.

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