For U.S.-based researchers, foreign corporate entities have often been seen as an enigma due to how difficult they can be to track down. Fortunately for advocates of transparency, it has become much easier to research international corporations thanks to the OpenCorporates database, which is the largest open database of companies in the world with over 100 million companies indexed from 131 jurisdictions. The jurisdictions covered by OpenCorporates include all U.S. states, the United Kingdom, France, India, Japan, Brazil, Australia and other countries from across Asia, Europe and Africa. As of May 2019, the database claimed to have indexed over 169 million companies and over 223 million corporate officers.
OpenCorporates is simple to use – once you access the site, there is a search bar in the middle of the screen, with an option underneath to select either Companies or Officers and an option to the right that allows you to select particular jurisdictions (the default is All jurisdictions).
Once a particular company or officer is searched, the results screen will show the various jurisdictions with companies registered by that name, which can be clicked through to obtain more information. For jurisdictions that provide corporate registrations online, the OpenCorporates database provides links to those filings, as well as a link back to the original source of that information (i.e. the Secretary of State or Business Registration office). Researchers are always able to reconfirm and verify OpenCorporates’ data, as the site only utilizes primary public data – with complete line-of-sight to the official source – and does not use third party data.
When approaching large corporate entities with an international reach, OpenCorporates provides a useful starting point and is especially helpful in narrowing the list of jurisdictions where companies are registered and in obtaining online corporate registration filings.