Before entering into an international trade contract, filing a lawsuit or an arbitration claim, it is extremely important to investigate the company you are going to deal with. We use the term “due diligence” to describe the company verification process.
In this article, we will provide you with the company check tools to conduct legal due diligence before entering into a contract, making a payment, or performing other important actions. Our recommendations are based on the experience we received having conducted numerous investigations for our clients from USA, China, the United Arab Emirates, India, etc.
Our guidelines will help you to acquire proficiency in conducting an investigation regarding a foreign company. We will provide you with links to online databases of some important for international business jurisdictions. By using these tools, you will be able to receive necessary information on the company, that can help to make the right decision.
If you conduct company search, I recommend you install a program like TunnelBear, because some databases don’t allow users from other countries to connect to them. In this article, we will focus on how to check companies by using different databases which are available online, including:
We hope that our due diligence guidelines will be useful for practicing lawyers and entrepreneurs engaged in international trade. If you need more information on legal due diligence, visit our web page and fill out the form. We provide legal services worldwide. In some cases, we can engage a local private investigator to search necessary information on a company/individual.
If you check a company registered in US, you have to know the place of the company’s registration. Each state has its own databases. Moreover, each county has its own databases, such as property database, license register, court register, so on. It will take too much time to get through all 50 states. In this regard, as an example, we chose the state of Georgia to explain how it works in US. Each state has similar databases, so having this example you will be able to do the same search in any other state.
In US, information on a company is open to the public. You can easily retrieve records from business registers, court databases, license databases and other sources. Unfortunately, there is no centralized database available online (for free of charge), for simultaneous search across all states. In this regard, if you check a company or individual, you should look for information in each state.
In each state, a business register is administered by the Secretary of State. To find the database in Georgia click here. The search page is as follows:
Fill out appropriate items and click the button “search”. You will receive all available records on the company, including corporate documents and annual reports. You will also see a filing history, information on the company and agent, name history. Usually, obtaining such information and documents is free of charge.
Look at the item “Business Type” to understand where the company has a principal place of business. If you see the wording “Foreign Limited Liability Company”, that means the company’s principal location is in other state. In this case, to receive additional information, you should go to that state to search the Secretary of State’s database.
Finding property records is more complicated job. It is required to review databases of each county. In the State of Georgia, go to the official website of the Department of Revenue located here. You will find links to databases of each county there. Choose the county you want to search and fill out the form.
You will receive information on the property owned by the individual/company you want to check. Obtained records will contain information on the owner, some property items (parcel number, location, description, improvements, photos, sketches), sales history, value, etc.
To receive additional information on the property you can review Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ website (see picture below). Choose appropriate boxes to receive information on properties, liens, notary records, etc. It’s required to register an account to conduct a search there. To receive some information, it’s also required to pay fees.
In US, to operate almost any business it is required obtaining a license/permit. Information on some licenses you can receive here (see picture below).
If you deal with the company that provides financial services, you can review the official database of the Department of Banking and Finance located here. See the picture below, how the website looks like:
Fill out appropriate boxes, as Party name or Case number. You will receive the filing history, parties’ details, information on court hearings, attorneys’ details, etc. You may purchase documents contained in the court file. In some courts, you may receive documents for free of charge.
Some information on individuals you can find in telephone books. Here are the most popular phone books:
To receive information on a company in Hong Kong you can use the business register located at the official website. To login the database without registration of an account you should click on the button “Unregistered User” (see picture below). Accept the terms and fill out appropriate boxes.
You will receive information on the company such as a company name, registration number, company type, date of Incorporation, company status. To receive corporate documents (Annual return, Articles of Associations, Certificate of incorporation, Incorporation form, other filed documents) it is required to pay fees (about $1.27 per document).
To obtain information on real estate records you should go to the website located here.
If the company you want to check out provides financial services (including dealing in securities, dealing in futures contracts, leveraged foreign exchange trading, advising on securities, advising on futures contracts, advising on corporate finance, providing automated trading services, securities margin financing, asset management, providing credit rating services), use the official database.
Official information on Money Lenders Licenses is available here.
To search court records you can use this database.
If you want to receive detailed information regarding the status of the company, send a request directly to the office that issued the document. In my case, I sent a request via email to the City Government of Pasig to check the business permit and promptly received the answer:
You can check out information on land records by using this website, but it is required to have EPEB number (Electronic Primary Entry Book).
To receive detailed information on the property you should send a request to agencies or make a call. The addresses you can find here.
In Belize, to obtain information on the company you can use the official website. You will receive information on the company name, registration number and status of the company.
To receive more details, you can order the public inspection. Fill out the Payment by Credit Card Authorization Form and send it to email@example.com. You will be required to pay the fee in the amount of $25 per search. You will receive the public inspection within 24 hours. This report will consist the following information: IBC Company name, Registered agent name, Agent’s address, Registration number, Registration date, Authorized capital, Public investment, Registered documents, Struck Off information. Information on the company beneficial owners, directors and shareholders is not available for public. Only licensed agents have access to such information.
To check out licensed service providers you can here.
Some property records can be obtained from Land Registry And Land Titles Units. Unfortunately, online services are not available. Phone numbers of the agency you can find here. You can also obtain property records in Belize by hiring an attorney or real estate agent.
You can search the company register here. Enter the company name, number or officer name to search directory. You will receive information on company name, registration number, address, company status, nature of business, statements, filing history, company officers, charges, etc. You can also download in PDF corporate documents and reports. Obtaining documents is free of charge.
To receive property records you should use this website (see picture below). Some information is free of charge, but to receive detailed information you should pay the fee in the amount of £3.00.
You can also use this service (see picture below) to receive property records. To obtain records you should register an account and pay fees.
UAE Government makes great efforts to ensure the security of business in the country. If you deal with the company from UAE, it is not difficult to get the necessary information on the company. Here are some links to online services where you can review the company’s details:
If you need more information, you can send a request to the agency that manages the register. Taking into account my experience, government agencies of UAE provide available information without undue formalities. As an example, I sent an email to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry asking some information and received it within two days without any issues.
In Dubai, to receive information on the property you can use online services available here.
To search to property located within the Abu Dhabi Global Market free zone, (ADGM) you can use tools available at the website.
In Dubai court records can be found at the official website.
In Abu Dhabi, court records are available here.
In Ukraine most of databases are open to the public. You can obtain information on an individual or a company by conducting online databases search. To use some services, it is required to register an account, identify the person and pay fees. It is also should be taken into account, that you can use only Ukrainian language to search information.
At your request, the Law Office of Dmitriy Chyrkin can prepare the detailed investigation report. We have extensive experience in conducting legal due diligence worldwide.
To check out the company use the official website. Enter the company name or registration number to find necessary one (see picture below). You will receive information on the company, including the company name, company registration number, company’s form, address, details on the director and founders, share capital, nature of business. This information is free of charge. To obtain additional information, you can use paid services.
The additional source of information is the database administered by the tax authorities. A quick lookup of company’s data you can do at the official website.
Use these databases as well (see picture below).
To check out the license you should use the official website of the agency that issued the license. There is no centralized database containing information on all license issued in Ukraine.
To obtain information on foreign economic sanctions regarding the company you can at the official website of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine (see picture below)
If you involved in international trade with Ukrainian companies you can find useful information at the official website of the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection. On this page you will find a lot of registers.
To search information on real estate, use the official website (see picture below). To obtain information, it is required to pay fees.
If you want to check out whether the company was involved in criminal or civil cases, go to the official website located here (see picture below). Fill out appropriate boxes to receive relevant information.
To receive a copy of the court order or judgment you can use this service (see picture below)
In the modern world, almost every company has a website, where you can find information you are looking for. In some cases, for example in domain name disputes, it is important to understand who owns the website’s domain name. To obtain this information you can use online service “whois” available on the internet.
You can find a lot of “whois” websites. But in my opinion, the best ones are whoisology.com and whois.domaintools.com. Put the website’s name to the appropriate box and receive information on the registrant (owner), such as the owner’s name, email address and phone. In some cases, information regarding the registrant can be hidden. Here is an example how the search result looks like:
As a conclusion of these company check tools, we prepared the checklist you should look at before entering into the contract, filing the lawsuit or performing other actions. Defined questions are not universal and should be used as a general framework within which your will check the company.
At the first glance, it looks quite simply, but in fact, answers will help you to understand the opposite party much better. If you need additional tools that were not revealed in this article, call the Law Office of Dmitriy Chyrkin to receive valuable information.