Although a company can request a variety of official certificates from state agencies, the most common type of certificate obtained is the "Certificate of Good Standing" which is also commonly referred to as a "Certificate of Authorization" or "Certificate of Status" or "Certificate of Existence." This certificate is an official legal document that proves a company to be incorporated and authorized to transact business within that state. A certificate can be obtained from the domestic state or any foreign state(s) where the company has qualified to conduct business.
Some states will include compliance standing information and/or tax standing information on these certificates. These certificates are frequently used in a variety of corporate transactions, but may not be favorable if a company does not maintain good legal standing with the respective states statutory requirements. In fact, some states will still issue the certificate noting the defaults of the company, while others will not issue the certificate at all because of the existing defaults or suspensions. These certificates are often required to accompany foreign qualifications or registrations as supporting documentation.
Charter documents are essentially the formation documents of a company, such as the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization. In many corporate transactions, such as foreign qualifications, a state may require the company to provide a copy of these documents. Although these documents can be ordered as a "plain copy" or "certified copy," in most cases a certified copy is required. When a state provides a company with a certified copy of charter documents, the company is receiving the exact copy of the documents on file with that particular state (domestic or foreign).
These documents are often used in corporate transactions, financial transactions, for the purpose of opening bank accounts, and often required when filing a fictitious business name or assumed name on behalf of a company.
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