Filing Information


Filer Responsibility

  • Filers are responsible for ensuring that UCC documents are legally sufficient, complete and accurate.
  • Filers are responsible for determining and correctly providing the exact legal name of the debtor. The determination of the correct legal name depends on whether the debtor is an individual or an organization.

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Debtor Name

  • If the debtor is a registered organization such as a corporation, limited partnership, or limited liability company, the legal name is the exact name under which it is organized. The best source of the correct name is to check the registration documents. A preliminary check of business names for California registered organizations may be obtained through the Business Search. If the debtor is a general organization, such as a joint venture or other partnership, use the name contained in the formation documents or other organizational document.
  • If the debtor is an individual, there is no single source for the correct legal name. Common sources that may be used include birth certificates, passports or drivers licenses. Legal counsel may be consulted to determine the best source for a specific filing situation.
  • Article 9, Chapter 5, requires that filers identify a debtor as either an individual or an organization. Failure to do so will result in rejection pursuant to California Uniform Commercial Code section 9516. If the debtor is an individual, the document must indicate the debtor’s surname.
  • Only information contained on a national form (and corresponding addendum) will be indexed. Information contained on separate attachment pages will not be reviewed or indexed.

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Forms

  • The national filing forms contained in California Uniform Commercial Code section 9521 will be accepted for filing. California Government Code section 12194 specifies that these are the only forms that will be accepted for filing in California.
  • Filing forms can be downloaded from the UCC Forms and Fees page, filled–in, printed and mailed to the Secretary of State’s office. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully and include filing fees.
  • Pursuant to California Uniform Commercial Code section 9520, rejection letters will reflect both a process date and the file date and time the document would have received had it been accepted. This information may be helpful to filers in the event of a wrongful rejection from the filing office.
  • The Notice of Judgment Lien (Form JL1), Judgment Lien Change Form (Form JL3) and Notice of Attachment Lien (Form ATL) may be downloaded from the Secretary of State’s website and are available in fill-in format or may be purchased from most large stationery stores. California no longer will accept any other forms.
  • Article 9 provides the ability for a debtor to file a statement indicating that a filing is inaccurate or was wrongfully filed. The Information Statement (Form UCC5) was designed for this purpose and will be accepted for filing by the Secretary of State’s office. If properly completed, the statement will be entered into the index; however, no other information will be changed or removed.

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Indexing

  • The filing office indexes information exactly as presented on the form by the filer (including what may appear to be incorrect or extraneous information and typographical errors). The "correctness" of the name is not verified. Separate data formatting fields are established on the forms for the organization name and/or individual name. Please use the form as designed with one name per box and format individual names according to the instructions.
  • Only information contained on a UCC Financing Statement and corresponding addendums or the optional UCC Financing Statement Additional Party and UCC Financing Statement Amendment Additional Party will be indexed. Information contained on separate attachment pages will not be reviewed or indexed.
  • California Uniform Commercial Code section 9520(d) states that the information contained in a financing statement applies to each debtor separately. If a filing contains more than one debtor but gives either incomplete or undecipherable information for one of the debtors, the filing will be accepted. Only the complete and decipherable information will be indexed, and reflected in the acknowledgment letter. An amendment or new financing statement will be required to add the remaining debtor information.

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Proper Place to File

  • Fixture and as-extracted collateral or timber to be cut filings may be submitted to the county where the mortgages of real property are filed. All other collateral filings, including those for consumer goods, crops growing, transmitting utilities, and manufactured homes, may be filed in the Secretary of State’s office.
  • Under Article 9, the proper place to file is where the debtor is located. For debtors that are not individuals, the creditor should file in the state where the debtor’s business is registered or where the principal place of business is located. If there is more than one location, the creditor should file where the chief executive office is located. If the debtor is an individual, the creditor should file in the state of the debtor’s principal residence.
  • Financing statements covering a California public finance transaction or California manufactured home transaction may be filed in the Secretary of State’s office.

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Duration of a Financing Statement

  • Pursuant to California Uniform Commercial Code section 9515, a financing statement is effective for five years and lapses unless it is continued. The record remains active for one year after it lapses and is searchable in Secretary of State’s database for that period of time. Financing statements that cover California manufactured home transactions or California public finance transactions are effective for thirty years. Financing statements that cover transmitting utilities do not lapse until terminated by all secured parties of record.

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Availability/Status of Records

  • A record is searchable if the status is active in the Secretary of State’s database.
  • Termination statements do not change the status of a record in the index – with the exception of transmitting utilities financing statements which lapse upon the filing of a termination. The termination statement will be indexed to the associated filing and will be included in a search of the debtor.
  • Searches may contain records that are both unlapsed and lapsed. Records remain available for searching until becoming inactive and are purged from the index.

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Miscellaneous

  • There are no debtor or secured party signature requirements when filing an initial financing statement or amendment under Article 9.
  • Under Article 9, unless a document contains any of the deficiencies identified in California Uniform Commercial Code section 9516, it will be accepted for filing.
  • In addition to financing statements, state and federal tax liens, notices of judgment liens and notices of attachment liens also are filed at the Secretary of State’s office.

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