Businesses – Regulatory Agencies

regulatory licensing agencies

Many companies require licenses or regulatory permits to operate. These companies include everything from nursing homes and child care facilities to contractors and pharmacies.

The licensing and regulatory agencies have name indexes of the people or companies that they license or regulate, including the licensees’ addresses. More detailed information often is available, such as investigations of complaints or inspection reports.

You have to check with each individual agency to determine what records they keep and how the records can be accessed.

Fortunately, a large number of state and federal agencies that regulate professions and businesses are putting their name indexes and at least some of their records online.

For licensing agencies, see our tutorial on:

Professional Licenses

For some of the other major federal or state agencies that regulate various types of businesses or business practices see the topical listings in this tutorial.


The U.S. Treasury Department’s Comptroller of the Currency has an online database of its enforcement actions against banking organizations.

Comptroller of the Currency Enforcement Actions

Children’s Care

States license and regulate different types of businesses that provide care for children, such as child care facilities and adoption agencies.

In California check the state Community Care Licensing Division’s

Facility Search

Then select a type of licensed facility and do a search by the name of a facility or a location or both.

Consumer Protection

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has an alphabetical list by name of company of actions taken for consumer fraud and related issues.

FTC Case Names List

See also the section of this tutorial on Product Recalls.

Contractors Licenses

States regulate licensed contractors, such as companies that do home improvements.

Many of the states put their databases of licensees online.

In California, see the:

Contractors State License Board License Check

Environmental Pollutants and Toxins

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tracks sources of pollutants, toxic chemicals and waste released into the air, water or on land.

The EPA has an online database you can search by the name of a facility to see if it is the source of any pollutants or toxic emissions. See the:

EPA Envirofacts Database

The EPA also has an online database of inspection, violation, and enforcement actions relating to the federal clean water, clean air and other hazardous waste laws. This “ECHO” database is searchable by name of facility:

EPA Enforcement & Compliance History (ECHO)

State Environmental Agencies

States also have environmental regulatory agencies.

In California, for example, these include:



The U.S. Department of Commerce maintains a list of companies and people that have been denied export privileges.

Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security

Farm Laborers

The California Department of Industrial Relations has an online database of farm labor contractors

California Farm Labor Contractors License Database

Financial Services Companies

For brokerage houses and brokers, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has a searchable online database:

FINRA BrokerCheck

For investment advisory firms and advisors, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has an online database of firms and people registered with federal or state agencies:

SEC Investment Adviser Search

For state agencies that regulate different types of financial service companies, go to the North American Securities Administrators Association:

NASAA Contact Your Regulator Map

Government Contractors

The federal government has set up a website that lists federal grants and contracts that have been awarded, mainly under the federal recovery act.

Health Care and Hospitals

Hospitals and other health care organizations are accredited by a group known as the Joint Commission.

The Commission has an online database you can search by the name of a health care organization to find accreditation and quality of care reports:

Joint Commission – Find a Health Care Organization

Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are regulated by state agencies.

For links to the websites of state insurance regulators, go to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners:

Map of NAIC States & Jurisdictions

In California, go to the California Department of Insurance.

Or you can search the California Department of Insurance online database of insurance company profiles:

California Insurance Company Profiles

Liquor Licenses

Businesses with licenses to sell alcoholic beverages are usually regulated by a state agency.

In California, liquor licenses are issued by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, commonly referred to as the ABC.

The ABC has an online database you can search by the name of an individual or business to get information on liquor licenses:

ABC License Query System

You also can look up all the liquor licenses in a particular city:

ABC License Query System by City and License Type

In California, transfers of liquor licenses from one individual or establishment to another – called notices of intent to sell alcoholic beverages – also are filed with a county recorder’s office.


The U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office has an online database of all patents filed in the United States.

Patent and Trademark Office Search for Patents

Product Recalls

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has an online database of product recalls, searchable by the name of a company:

CPSC – Find Recalls by Company

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a searchable online database of food and drug recalls or safety alerts:

FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts

Safety and Health Inspections

The U.S. Office of Safety & Health Inspections (OSHA) conducts inspections of workplaces for possible health and safety violations. OSHA has an online database you can search by name of establishment for enforcement inspections:

OSHA Establishment Search

In California the Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health, more commonly known as Cal/OSHA, regulates workplace safety. On its website it has posted a list of Citations of significance against businesses.


Public utilities, such as gas and electric companies, are regulated on both a federal and state level. See for example:

U.S. Department of Energy

California Public Utilities Commission

About this Tutorial

This tutorial was originally written by Paul Grabowicz for students in his Computer Assisted Reporting class, and later modified for public use.

Republishing Policy

This content may not be republished in print or digital form without express written permission from Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. Please see our Content Redistribution Policy.

© 2020 The Regents of the University of California

Upcoming Workshops: