State cuts burdensome red tape for Alabama businesses


Ask any business attorney or accountant and you will discover the business division of the office of the Secretary of State has not been traditionally recognized for either speed of services, customer service, or efficiency.

Secretary of State John Merrill is working hard to change that.

On Wednesday, his office announced corporate filings in the area of business services have now been processed the same day that they are received by the Office for 100 consecutive weeks.

At the direction of Merrill, his team undertook some significant restructuring and reorganization to allow the staff in that division to process Alabamian’s business formation documents the same day that they are received in the Office of the Secretary of State, which he believes is an indication the office “no longer moves at the speed of government,” but is now “moving at the speed of business.”

“When I started campaigning to become Secretary of State in 2013, I was informed that the business division at the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office was seven to nine months behind on business filings. That was shocking and unacceptable to the people of Alabama and something that I knew needed attention, structure, and accountability. Through the implementation of common sense measures, and the removal of team members that were not willing and able to contribute to the team’s overall goal, we have rebuilt the business services team and processes into one that no longer moves at the speed of government, we are now moving at the speed of business,” Merrill explained.

The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office is the repository for all business filings in the state of Alabama. State law requires the state to record these filings and for them to be made available to the public for inspection. It also requires a fee be charged and empowers the Secretary of State to charge an additional $100 to expedite the filings process; however, with Merrill’s increased efficiencies in the administration of these processes, this fee is no longer necessary, providing additional cost savings to the people of the Alabama.

In an effort to further expedite the processing time for new or existing businesses in Alabama, Secretary Merrill has implemented an online filing system to allow businesses to complete the registration process without extended time away from their new venture. 

At the time, Baldwin County’s Probate Judge Tim Russell and Jackson County’s Probate Judge Victor Manning are the only counties that have implemented the program, which is completely free for any county that agrees to participate, but Merrill believes more are coming soon.

Merrill continued, “Taking this service online provides additional access and resources to the people of Alabama and allows small business owners to focus on the important things that come with starting or managing a small business. This will continue to help move Alabama forward allowing for the expeditious creation of jobs and overall improvements in the life of all Alabamians, through the removal of inefficient bureaucratic red tape.”