Certificates of incorporation for business firms dating back to 1811 (enactment of the first general incorporation law in New York) are filed at the New York State Department of State. Duplicate copies of certificates of incorporation are filed in the office of the county clerk in the county where the business firm has its principal office.
Certificates of incorporation of defunct state-chartered banks and other banking entities are held by the New York State Archives (record series 14272 Banking Dept. Inactive Institution Files). Until the mid-19th century business corporations were occasionally created by special act of the New York State Legislature. Those acts are published in the annual session laws, available in the New York State Library and other research libraries around the state.