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Tips for Using the SEC’s EDGAR Search Database System

The SEC's EDGAR database system is a convenient tool that provides access to millions of corporate filings. This system can prove invaluable to people who need to perform due diligence and other kinds of research on public companies. EDGAR is free and intended to benefit investors, companies, and the general public by offering a quick way to research updated financial information of private companies.

The quickest way to access EDGAR search tools is to go to Filings & Forms on sec.gov. Besides providing information on corporations, the database also contains information about mutual funds and variable annuities.

Commonly Searched EDGAR Documents

Here are examples of the commonly accessed corporate information that EDGAR supplies:

  • Forms 10-K, 10-Q, S-1, and F-6: Prospectuses, registration statements, and periodic reports
  • Form 8-K: Corporate events like leadership changes, bankruptcy filings, and preliminary earning reports
  • Confidential Treatment (or “CT”) Orders: Requests for confidential treatment with a form type of "CT ORDER"
  • Schedule 14-A: Executive compensation

Tips to Searching Filings Using EDGAR

Searchers can use several different methods to find documents. On Filings & Forms, there is a link to EDGAR Search Tools that brings up a page with descriptions and links to various options. A description of tips on how to use some of the most common ways to search follows.

Company Name, File Number, Industry, Location, Ticker, and CIK Search

The Company Filings Search page provides access to these quick search tools:

  • Company name: The name entered has to be the company's official name, but a user can click the "More Options" button to search with a partial string of the company name; by the file number; or by state, country, or Standard Industry Classification (SIC) code.
  • Fast search: The quickest way to find documents for a specific company is to use the Fast Search form with either a ticker symbol or the SEC's control index key (or CIK).
  • CIK search: There is also the option to look up control index keys by either a partial or complete company name.

Listings from any of the searches described above are displayed with the most recent filings at the top.

The Full Text Search

EDGAR allows you to perform a full text search. This function allows users to search the entire text of all SEC filings from the past four years. This function's conceptual search engine includes the ability to find the main filing document, attachments, and exhibits.

Mutual Funds and Annuity Search

Investors can use EDGAR to research required filings from mutual funds and annuities. On the Search Tools page, there are links to key mutual fund disclosures, mutual fund voting records, a search by fund name, ticker, or SEC key, and a search for variable insurance products.

Real-Time Edgar Data

Users of the public EDGAR database and search system do not enjoy real-time access, and may need to wait a minimum of 24 hours for new listings. During busy periods at the SEC, records may not be available for a few days.

Alternatively, larger institutions or investors may pay for a subscription to the EDGAR Public Dissemination Service (PDS) through Attain, LLC for listings that are provided in as close to real time as possible.

Another source of SEC filing records is EDGAR Online. This records aggregator purchases filing information, formats it, and then sells it to outlets like Yahoo! Finance and Google. EDGAR Online is not endorsed by or affiliated with the SEC.

The Bottom Line

Using the free and public access version of EDGAR can be useful for researching public companies. However, organizations or individuals with access to near real-time data via a paid subscription may have an edge over those who need to wait for this data.

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