0890 Secretary of State
Program Descriptions


The Business Programs Division is comprised of three primary areas: Business Entities, Uniform Commercial Code, and Notary Public and Special Filings.

Business Entities examines, files, and maintains formation documents for new California business entities and qualifies out-of-state and international entities to conduct business in California; and also examines, files and maintains changes to the records of domestic or qualified foreign business entities to ensure the business entities are properly formed, merged, converted, amended, and dissolved in compliance with California law. Statements of Information containing key officers and contact information are also processed and maintained for public and governmental use.

Uniform Commercial Code files certain financing statements allowing lending institutions to protect their financial interest in personal property and established priority in case of debtor default or bankruptcy. Notices of judgment liens, attachment liens, agricultural liens, and equipment liens are also filed in Uniform Commercial Code, as well as notices of various tax liens submitted by state and federal taxing agencies such as the Franchise Tax Board and the Internal Revenue Service.

Notary Public and Special Filings appoints and commissions qualified notaries public for four- year terms, reviews and approves notary public education courses, and certifies to the authenticity of signatures of notaries public and public officials on documents for use in foreign countries. Special Filings include trademarks and service marks as well as surety bonds that certain business entities are required to file, notices of joint power agreements, city and county charters, and claims for successor-in-interest. This area also has disciplinary functions with regard to notaries public and immigration consultants.

The Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) Registry maintains AHCDs, which allow a person to indicate their medical treatment preferences if they cannot speak or make decisions for themselves. The AHCD also may designate someone else to make decisions regarding medical treatment. AHCDs and related information can be provided upon request to the registrant's health care provider, public guardian, or legal representative.

The Domestic Partners Registry registers same-sex couples regardless of the age of the partners, and opposite-sex couples in which one partner is at least 62 years old, as domestic partners in California.

The Victims of Corporate Fraud Compensation Fund provides limited restitution to victims of corporate fraud who are unable to collect through other means on a judgment against a corporation for corporate fraud.

Safe at Home is a confidential mail forwarding program designed to assist victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or a reproductive healthcare employee, patient, or volunteer. Participants in the Safe at Home program are provided with a free post office box to use as a mailing address thereby protecting their actual residential address. Once enrolled into the program, Safe at Home serves as a liaison for those participants who qualify for additional confidential services offered by various state and local agencies.


The Secretary of State, as California's chief elections officer, has broad responsibility to administer the election process. This program oversees all federal and state elections within California, maintaining a statewide database of all registered voters, tracks and certifies ballot measures, certifies candidates, and certifies election results. In addition, the program oversees the modernization of voting equipment and the improvement of current electoral database systems, enhancing the voting processes, providing accessibility to voters, working to increase people's knowledge of the electoral system, and investigates election related criminal violations as provided by California Elections Code.

This program includes the campaign and lobbying registration and disclosure provisions of the Political Reform Act of 1974. Under this law, the Office registers all levels of campaign committees, and reviews for compliance with statutory requirements all state-level candidates and campaign recipients, major donor, slate mailer, political party, and independent expenditure committees. The program registers lobbyists (including placement agents), lobbying firms and lobbyist employers, reviews for compliance with statutory requirements the periodic financial disclosure reports filed by lobbying entities, and publishes a Lobbying Directory on the Internet. This program also supports the electronic filing requirements of the Political Reform Act and posts relevant registration and disclosure information to the Office's web site so the public can track where campaign money is raised and spent and what lobbying activity is occurring in state government. A searchable database of campaign and lobbying financial activity is also provided through the web site.


The California State Archives establishes and administers a records management program that applies efficient and economical management methods to the creation, utilization, maintenance, retention, preservation, and disposal of state records and acquires, indexes, preserves, and provides reference access to irreplaceable historic materials from the three branches of state government. The Archives acquires records, with legal, administrative or evidentiary value, or that have historical significance. Materials are transferred to the Archives for permanent preservation.


This program develops and manages overall policy. It serves as the liaison to other state agencies, the Legislature, the federal government, and other states' Secretaries of State. This program responds to constituent correspondence and requests from the public and advocates in the Legislature, administers the Secretary's role as a member of the National Association of Secretaries of State, in the management of task forces and advisory committees, in the implementation of new federal and state statutory requirements, and coordinates and disseminates information about the Office and its initiatives to the public. It also provides the Office with the necessary personnel, general administrative, budgeting, fiscal services, and information technology expertise to plan, develop, implement, and operate innovative and effective business and information systems solutions.