How to File a Nonprofit Certificate of Incorporation in Oklahoma

Starting a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Oklahoma is easy — and the first task is filing your Certificate of Incorporation. This guide will walk you through the 12 steps required to file a Certificate of Incorporation to officially start a nonprofit in Oklahoma.

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Getting Started

Step 1: Indicate Your Corporation Type

The first step to filling out your Oklahoma Certificate of Incorporation is to indicate whether or not your nonprofit is a benefit corporation by checking the appropriate box in this section.

Step 2: List Your Nonprofit’s Name

Next, list your nonprofit corporation’s name. If you haven’t gone through the process of establishing a name for your organization, here are the requirements for naming a nonprofit in Oklahoma:

  • Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from any other name on record within the state of Oklahoma, including any reserved names.
  • Your nonprofit’s name must include one of the following words or abbreviations: “association,” “company,” “corporation,” “club,” “foundation,” “fund,” “incorporated,” “institute,” “society,” “union,” “syndicate,” “limited,” “co.,” “corp.,” “inc.,” or “ltd.”
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Recommended: For a step-by-step guide to naming your nonprofit corporation in Oklahoma, read our guide on How to Name a Nonprofit in Oklahoma.

Search the Availability of Your Name

After selecting potential names — ideally, at least four or five — it’s important to search for their availability in your state. You can do this by conducting the four recommended searches outlined below. 

Oklahoma Business Entities Search

To operate in Oklahoma, a nonprofit corporation must have a unique name. You can easily check if your chosen name is available by performing a search using the Oklahoma business entities search tool.

Domain Name Search

We strongly recommend that you also check to see if your business name is available as a web domain (URL). Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the web address to prevent others from acquiring that domain name. It’s a free search.

Find a Domain Now

Federal Trademark Search

You can easily check if someone already trademarked your chosen nonprofit name by using the federal Trademark Electronic Search System. This is important even if you don’t plan to incorporate your nonprofit right away.

Once you confirm that no one else already trademarked your chosen name, you can apply for a trademark for your nonprofit.

Web and Social Media Search

A strong social media presence will play a key role in expanding your reach to potential donors as well as clients that will use your services. That makes it important to search the web and popular social media platforms for your desired name before registering it to ensure it’s available on all the platforms where you plan to promote your organization.

Step 3: Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent is required to file a Certificate of Incorporation in Oklahoma. The corporation itself, an individual resident of Oklahoma, a domestic or qualified foreign corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or a limited partnership may fill this role.

A registered agent’s responsibilities include accepting and forwarding service of process documents for the corporation as well as serving as a point of contact for the entity.

Requirements for this section include:

  • Your registered agent’s name
  • Your registered agent’s street address (this can’t include a P.O. Box)

Recommended: Using an affordable registered agent service offers many benefits. For more information on choosing a registered agent service, read our full guide

Step 4: Provide Your Address (Churches Only)

If your nonprofit corporation is a church, you must provide its street address within Oklahoma. This can’t be a P.O. Box.

Step 5: Disclose Your Nonprofit’s Duration

Most incorporators form their nonprofit corporations without a duration in mind. If this applies to your organization, then leave this section blank. If your nonprofit does have a specific end date, you must disclose that date here.

Step 6: Describe Your Nonprofit’s Purpose

In this section, describe your nonprofit’s purpose. That purpose must include one or more of the following characteristics for your nonprofit to be eligible for 501(c)(3) status: 

  • Charitable
  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Scientific
  • Literary
  • Testing for public safety
  • Fostering national/international amateur sports competition
  • Preventing cruelty to animals/children

Step 7: Confirm the Number of Initial Trustees/Directors

In this section, confirm the total number of initial trustees or directors your nonprofit corporation will elect at its first meeting. The state of Oklahoma only requires you to list one trustee or director, but, to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, your nonprofit must have at least three trustees or directors.

Step 8: Name Your Initial Board of Trustees/Directors

Name your initial board of trustees or directors and provide a mailing address for each. For a complete guide to forming your nonprofit’s board of trustees or directors, read our How to Develop a Board of Directors for a Nonprofit in Oklahoma article.

Step 9: List Your Incorporator Information

An incorporator is any person who participates in the completion and submission of the Certificate of Incorporation. In this section, include the signatures, names, and addresses of each incorporator. You must list at least three incorporators.

Step 10: Include a Corporate Email Address

Next, provide an email address for the primary contact of your nonprofit corporation.

Step 11: Provide Any Additional Attachments

In order for your nonprofit to qualify for 501(c)(3) status, you must include some additional statements with its Certificate of Incorporation. Because the Oklahoma formation document doesn’t include a section related to the distribution of assets upon dissolution, use an attachment to describe how your nonprofit corporation’s assets will be distributed upon its dissolution. 

Distribution of assets upon dissolution must be for approved, tax-exempt purposes only. For more information about the requirements of dissolution and 501(c)(3) status, refer to the sixth section of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS’) suggested language for corporations and associations.

Step 12: File Formation Documents

You can file your Oklahoma Certificate of Incorporation in three ways: online, by mail, or in person.

File an Oklahoma Certificate of Incorporation

OPTION 1: File Online With the Oklahoma Secretary of State

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File by Mail or in Person

Download Form

Fee: $25 online and by mail, $50 in person

Filing Address:
Oklahoma Secretary of State 
421 N.W. 13th Street, Suite 210 
Oklahoma City, OK 73103

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a nonprofit organization in Oklahoma?

You can form a nonprofit corporation in Oklahoma by filing a Certificate of Incorporation with the Secretary of State online, by mail, or in person.

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit in Oklahoma?

Filing an Oklahoma Certificate of Incorporation costs $25 if you submit by mail or online, but $50 if you file in person.

Oklahoma Nonprofit Quick Links

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