Company Formation Documents, Defined

By Andrew Millman, Michael Kupfer Tuesday, October 1, 2019

company formation documents

Certificates, articles, agreements and letters! Documents are a big part of forming a new company. Depending on the type of company you’ve formed and the options you have chosen, you will receive a number of documents, each with their own use and purpose.

For your convenience, we have gathered the gamut of common startup documents, arranged them alphabetically, and provided a summary. Feel free to use it as your own personal dictionary of start-up documents.


Articles of Incorporation – Containing the company name, purpose, stock amounts and types, the address of the Registered Agent and the person incorporating the company, the Articles of Incorporation are defined as the basic charter of a corporation. In Delaware the Articles of Incorporation is called the Certificate of Incorporation. They are the same thing. Think of this as the “Birth Certificate” of your company.

Articles of Limited Partnership – Contained within the Certificate of Limited Partnership, and filed with the Secretary of State’s office, the articles serve as the agreement between two or more partners to operate their company.

Articles of Organization – Contained within the LLC Certificate of Formation, this contains the name of the LLC and the address of its Registered Agent as well as any additional information the owners/members decide to include.

Certificate of Authority – Also known as a Certificate of Registration, this is the document received when a company files for Foreign Qualification in another state besides its home state, in order to do business there. Learn more about Foreign Qualification.

Certificate of Existence – (see Certificate of Good Standing)

Certificate of Formation – This is the document you file and receive back from the state of Delaware once your LLC (as opposed to a corporation or LP) is filed and approved by the Delaware Secretary of State. Learn more about it here.

Certificate of Good Standing – Sometimes referred to as a Certificate of Existence, this is a letter provided by the Delaware Secretary of State that declares that a company is in good standing with the state. It is often required for establishing new relationships with banks, vendors and other parties.

Certificate of Incorporation - This is the document you receive from the state of Delaware once your corporation (as opposed to an LLC or LP) is filed and approved by the Delaware Secretary of State. Think of this as the “Birth Certificate” of your corporation.

Certificate of Limited Partnership – This is the document you file and receive back from the state of Delaware one your Limited Partnership (LP) is filed and approved.

Certificate of Registration – (see Certificate of Authority)

Certified Copy – This certification is issued by the Delaware Secretary of State to prove that a particular document is a true and correct copy of the original, filed document. There are a number of documents for which a Certified Copy is available, including a Certificate of Formation/Incorporation, an Annual Report, a Stock Amendment and others. Order a Certified Copy here.

EIN Confirmation Letter (IRS Form CP 575) – This is the document received from the IRS assigning your company its Employer Identification Number, or Tax ID.

Operating Agreement – This is actually a contract among all members of an LLC. This is the main governing document of an LLC. It sets forth the structure and operations of the company, and includes the members’ names and contributions as an appendix. Delaware LLCs enjoy much flexibility in crafting their Operating Agreement.

Delaware allows you “Freedom of Contract” to draft your LLC Operating Agreement. And when there is a dispute among members, the Delaware courts will enforce your contract.


If you have questions about any of these documents or have questions about a document not listed here, please feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help!

Disclaimer

THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG ARTICLE IS NOT A LAWYER AND HARVARD BUSINESS SERVICES, INC. IS NOT A LAW FIRM. THE ARTICLE ABOVE IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS SHORT ARTICLE IS STRICTLY TO MENTION SOME ASPECTS OF DELAWARE’S CORPORATION LAWS AND/OR LAWS RELATING TO OTHER FORMS OF ENTITIES WHICH YOU MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH. WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU CONSULT WITH A LAWYER BEFORE FORMULATING A STRATEGY WHICH WILL BE SUITABLE FOR YOUR SPECIFIC CASE.

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There are 8 comments left for Company Formation Documents, Defined

Cera Yabut said: Monday, July 3, 2017

I find this article very helpful! Thank you very much! Knowing the requirements before business can be formed is very crucial for businessmen especially here in the Philippines. That is why those who aspire to build or expand their business in the country consult business registration services.

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, July 6, 2017

We are happy to help and share our knowledge. Thanks for reading!

Charlie said: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Thank you for the knowledge and clarification that you are sharing. It seems that some banks aren't sure what documents are needed when opening a business bank account and this clarifies it simply. Thank you so much!

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, July 6, 2017

So glad we could be of some assistance to you. Thanks for reading!

Ally Miller said: Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Thanks for providing such good information about Company Formation services.

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, March 3, 2016

You are welcome. Thanks for reading the article.

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