Obtaining a Certificate of Compliance in Kentucky

Elevate your business credibility in Kentucky by securing a Certificate of Existence. Discover the importance and streamlined process in our insightful guide, ensuring your company's optimal standing in the state.

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Getting a Kentucky Certificate of Existence requires these steps to ensure that your business is in compliance with the various state rules that govern business entities.

What is a Kentucky Certificate of Existence?

A Kentucky Certificate of Existence (COE), also known as a Certificate of Good Standing, is a document that shows a business entity not only exists but is authorized to conduct business in the state it’s operating. A COE also shows that a company has met the parameters to comply with state law.

The Secretary of State’s Business Records Division issues Certificates of Existence to businesses that apply and meet the requirements.

If you’re unsure of whether your business falls into this category or not, ZenBusiness’s worry free compliance service provides guidance on remaining in good standing with the state.

What does a Certificate of Existence confirm?

From a general perspective, a COE confirms that a business entity is legally registered with the state. This official document also confirms that your business entity follows state requirements, including the submission of pertinent documentation.

A COE also confirms that your entity is up to date on all required taxes and fees due to the state in association with your business.

Information Found on a Kentucky Certificate of Existence

A Kentucky COE specifically lists:

  • The name of the Kentucky Secretary of State
  • An official designation on behalf of the state of Kentucky that your entity is registered to conduct business in the state
  • The formation date of your entity
  • A formal certification that all fees and documentation required by the Secretary of State have been properly filed
  • An official designation that your entity is in good standing with the state of Kentucky

The certificate is specific to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office and mentions that on the document.

Why might a business need a Kentucky Certificate of Existence?

A COE might be needed if:

  • An entity is registering to do business in other states
  • License/permit renewal processes
  • Acquiring a business insurance policy
  • Securing capital for your enterprise, such as a loan
  • Opening a business bank account
  • Creating certain types of contracts with other businesses or the state
  • Selling or transferring all or part of the entity

There may be other scenarios where a COE is requested or required. This is one of the reasons that many companies opt to apply and have one on hand.

However, it should be noted that if your entity does seek a certificate for recordkeeping purposes, you still may need an updated copy if another state requests one. In most instances, the certificate needs to be dated within 60 days of submission to the requesting party.

What Kentucky entities can obtain a COE?

Only those business entities that have registered with the state are eligible for a COE. In Kentucky, any business that consists of more than one person engages in contractual services (selling either goods or professional services), and generates profit that’s subject to state sales tax must register with the state. LLCs and corporations often seek this certificate.

Nonprofits can also apply for and receive a Certificate of Existence.

Entities that don’t need to be registered are sole proprietorships, general partnerships, and use the owner’s personal Social Security number for business purposes.

How to get a Kentucky Certificate of Existence

Getting a Kentucky Certificate of Existence requires you to navigate state processes that govern the application and administration of these certificates.

The official form is titled Certificate of Existence.

Check to make sure your business is in compliance

The first step to getting a Kentucky Certificate of Existence is ensuring your business is in compliance with the state regulations. Analyze your tax filings, annual reports, and any other pertinent paperwork.

Because numerous state agencies oversee the process by which a business is registered, checking for compliance can be complex. After all, being as thorough as possible is important to ensure there are no delays upon submitting your certificate application.

If you’re unsure about your company’s standing with the state, ZenBusiness’s compliance services can help with this process. Using a professional service gives you peace of mind in knowing that you didn’t miss any steps necessary to successfully apply for a COE.

Visit Kentucky’s business website to request a Certificate of Existence

The most common way to apply for a COE with the state of Kentucky is via the Secretary of State’s Business Records website. The fee is $10 plus an additional $5 if you request a return fax. There are several ways to apply for a certificate:

Online: Applying online for a certificate is the fastest and most efficient way to get it. Not only is the process seamless, but you can also print a copy of the certificate immediately. If you opt to file online, the Secretary of State’s Business Records website has a search feature that should bring up your business if it’s properly registered with the state.

Fax: Fax requests for a COE may be submitted to (502) 564-5687.

Mail: Mail requests and return forms may be submitted to:

Office of the Secretary of State
Records Branch
P.O. Box 718
700 Capital Ave., Ste. 158
Frankfort, KY 40601

When submitting a request via mail or fax, include a Request for Corporate Documents form. It can be downloaded and printed from the Secretary of State’s website and allows you to request certified copies of documents associated with your business from the state.

Make sure your Certificate of Existence is valid for its intended use

Depending on the reason for the COE, do some research on its intended use to ensure that it will provide the necessary information for your entity to move forward.

For instance, if your company has plans to register in another state to do business, the COE may be just one of the documents necessary to move forward with operations. The validity of this document depends on the state requesting it.

Therefore, while it’s an official document, it may not be enough, depending on the reason for the filing. Before you submit the certificate to the party that requested it, ask if there’s any other information required to validate your business and show proof of its standing and operational status in the state of Kentucky.

Submit to the requesting party

Submit your Kentucky Certificate of Existence to the requested party. The official document will bear the Kentucky Secretary of State’s seal and signature. For an additional $5, you can purchase an additional copy of the document.

Keep a copy of any files you submit to other entities, including a Kentucky COE. Timestamp them if possible and file them with other important business documents, such as your company’s incorporation papers and anything else relevant to your administrative processes.


Compliance may not be simple to keep up with, especially when considering all the other aspects that make a business go round. At ZenBusiness, we understand that your business needs don’t stop after the business has been registered. ZenBusiness can help keep you in good standing with our worry-free compliance service. With this service, we not only help keep your business in compliance, but we can also secure a Kentucky Certificate of Existence for you if you need one; you just pay the state fees. And, if you don’t have the worry-free compliance but still need a COE, our Certificate of Good Standing service can help.

Kentucky Certificate of Existence FAQs

  • The cost for a Kentucky Certificate of Existence is $10. You can pay an additional $5 for a return fax.

  • Upon filing and successfully purchasing your certificate, you can print it immediately. This is one of the reasons most people prefer to file online. All other methods take three to five days for processing and are then subject to mailing timeframes.

  • Kentucky doesn’t offer expedited service for a COE because processing is immediate when filing online.

  • A COE isn’t required to stay compliant in Kentucky. Rather, it just demonstrates to other entities or states that your business has taken all the required steps to obtain compliance. Think of it as proof of compliance rather than a requirement to be compliant in Kentucky.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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