How to Obtain a Copy of an LLC Operating Agreement & Bylaws

Every state requires businesses to file their articles of incorporation.
Every state requires businesses to file their articles of incorporation. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A limited liability company is a type of business that incorporates characteristics of sole proprietorships, partnerships and larger corporations, structured in a way that limits, within reason, the fiduciary responsibilities of stakeholders. Though many states require an LLC to file its articles of incorporation with the secretary of state, often through the county probate court where the company will operate, finding a copy of a company's operating agreements and bylaws might be more challenging.

Navigate to the company's investor relations website, if it has one, to see if the articles and bylaws might be posted with the company's mission statement and business model.

Call the headquarters of the LLC for which you seek to obtain an operating agreement and bylaws. The company may be more than happy to supply you with a copy, either to a potential investor or just a curious citizen.

Contact the secretary of state's office in a state where the company operates. Request a copy of the LLC's formation documents on file. Some states require operating agreements and bylaws to be filed, along with an LLC's articles of incorporation; others will just require the articles, but an LLC will file its operating agreement and bylaws as well.

Utilize the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database (in the Resources section), which contains a wealth of data about public companies. Search for the LLC here and potentially obtain basic formation documents as well as earnings reports.

Call an executive at the LLC, someone other than the person who originally denied your request, and explain your desire for a copy of the company's bylaws and operating agreement. You may still be denied, but you may end up reaching someone authorized to release these documents.

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