When you need to show that your corporation or limited liability company (LLC) is authorized to transact business in Wisconsin or prove your business’s legitimacy in front of financial institutions, you need a Wisconsin Certificate of Status.
What is a Wisconsin Certificate of Status?
A Wisconsin COS is a legal document stating that your LLC or corporation is a valid entity in the state. Specifically, that your company is authorized or registered to conduct business in Wisconsin.
A Certificate of Status is also a confirmation that your corporation complies with state laws. This confirmation can simplify processes such as opening business bank accounts, selling or transferring some or all of your business, and securing funding.
In most other states, a Certificate of Status is known as a Certificate of Good Standing.
Which Wisconsin office issues Certificates of Status?
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) issues the Certificates of Status in the state. You can request a Wisconsin COS online, or you can choose to get it printed and mailed or faxed to you, or you can pick up the certificate in person at the office.
There’s a processing fee for a Certificate of Status. Additional mailing or faxing charges may apply. The DFI also offers an expedited service for an additional charge, wherein you can expect requests to be processed within two business days.
If you need assistance in ensuring your organization is in good standing, reach out to ZenBusiness for our worry free compliance service. We’ll help make sure your business complies with state laws.
What does a Certificate of Status confirm?
A COS confirms your organization is authorized to transact business in Wisconsin. It further confirms that the annual report for the most recently completed year has been filed, and franchise taxes have been paid.
A Wisconsin Certificate of Status contains the following information:
- Current legal name of your organization
- Date of qualification or registration
- Confirmation of filing of the annual report
- Confirmation that a Certificate of Withdrawal has not been filed
- Official seal of the office of DFI
- Signature by the Deputy Administrator
Why might a business need a Wisconsin Certificate of Status?
A COS is typically an elective document, but it might prove to be helpful or needed in the below scenarios:
Registering to Do Business in Another State
When you want to expand your business beyond state borders, a COS might help ease the process. Your corporation is a domestic (in-state) entity in the state where it’s formed. When you want to conduct business in another state, it will be considered a foreign (out-of-state) entity. The new state will likely ask for a Certificate of Status to assess your business’s legal standing.
If you’re looking to get investors or banks interested in your company to secure capital, a COS can help establish your financial credibility. It can instill confidence among the investors that they’re dealing with a legal entity compliant with state laws.
Opening a Business Bank Account
Maintaining a separate account for personal and business transactions can help you track your cash flow better. Banks can ask for a Certificate of Status before opening a business account.
Buying Business Insurance
Insurance providers might also ask for a COS to understand the financial standing of your company. The certificate can offer the required assurance that they would be providing coverage to a company that exists in the state and is a valid entity.
Forming Contracts with State/Other Businesses
When your organization grows, it might have to interact with other businesses and expand operations to other states. In this scenario, a Certificate of Status helps prove the legitimacy of multiple companies involved in contract formation.
Selling/Transferring Part or All of the Business
A buyer interested in buying a part or all of your business might ask for a COS before they make a purchasing decision. As the certificate confirms recent reports have been filed and taxes are paid, a buyer has the satisfaction of knowing they’re interacting with a state-compliant business.
Renewing Certain Permits and Licenses
In Wisconsin, a Certificate of Status is issued by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. It’s a legal document confirming the existence of the business in the state. Such confirmation can facilitate the process of renewing permits and licenses and may even be required in some cases.
What Wisconsin entities can obtain a Certificate of Status?
Only registered state entities can get a COS in the state. The different entities that can request a Wisconsin Certificate of Status are:
LLCs and Corporations
A limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation refers to business structures that help distinguish the owner from the business. For example, in case of any liabilities, the company can be sued but usually not the owner.
While forming a Wisconsin LLC or corporation, a Certificate of Status can further strengthen your organization’s legitimacy. It can help simplify the process of establishing your LLC or corporation as a foreign entity or form contracts with third-party organizations.
Business Entities That Require Registration in the State
Other domestic and foreign business entities also need to register with the state before requesting a COS. These entities are:
- Nonprofit corporation
- Limited partnership
- Limited liability partnership
- Common law trust
Entities That Don’t Need To Be Registered
A sole proprietorship is an entity type that doesn’t need to register with the state, according to Wisconsin Statutes. As there’s no registration required, sole proprietorships cannot request a COS.
How to get a Wisconsin Certificate of Status
A Wisconsin COS can be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. The steps involved in the process are:
Make sure your business is in compliance
Before you request a Certificate of Status, you need to make sure your business complies with state laws. Noncompliance can lead to expensive fines and your COS request being rejected. If you need assistance with filing your Wisconsin annual report, get in touch with a professional team to expedite the service.
Taxes, fees, and penalties, if any, owed to the state must be duly paid. Your business shouldn’t have any outstanding debt. If you want to help ensure your company is in good standing and complies with state laws, you can benefit from the worry free compliance service from ZenBusiness.
Request a Certificate of Status
You first need to conduct a Business Entity Search on DFI’s online portal to find your business on the list. Click on the entity to navigate to complete corporate records. Next, click on the link to Request a Certificate of Status.
Here you get two options, an electronic option for immediate printing and another option to mail or fax. A processing fee applies, and you have to pay additional charges in case of mail or fax.
Regular requests are typically processed within 7 to 10 business days. For an extra fee, requests under the expedited service can get processed within two business days.
Check the validity of the Certificate of Status
The validity of a Wisconsin Certificate of Status depends on the party requesting it. For example, banks might ask for a COS that has been obtained in the last 60 to 90 days.
Send the Certificate of Status to the requesting party
Once you receive the COS through your preferred mode, you can send the certificate to the requesting party.
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 Wisconsin Certificate of Status 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 COS, our Certificate of Good Standing service can help.
Wisconsin Certificate of Status FAQs
How much does a Wisconsin Certificate of Status cost?
For the most current fees and methods of payment available, check with Wisconsin DFI’s website.
How long will it take to get my Wisconsin Certificate of Status?
Electronic copies of the certificate are available immediately for unlimited printing once the fee payment is processed. Regular requests take about 7 to 10 business days from the date of receipt. Expedited requests are processed within two business days.
Can I expedite a Wisconsin Certificate of Status request?
Yes, you can expedite a Wisconsin COS request for an additional fee. You can expect these requests to be processed within two business days. Ensure your business is in good standing before making the request.
Is a Certificate of Status required to stay compliant in Wisconsin?
A Certificate of Status is an elective document in Wisconsin. However, getting a COS can simplify your path when dealing with financial institutions, investors, and other organizations. It can help establish your entity as valid and legal in the state.