The Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval System (EDGAR) is a government database that showcases the financial information of publicly traded corporations. 

The database is overseen by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and available to anyone with an internet connection. 

Typically investors, company owners, or those looking to acquire or invest in businesses will use the provided tools to evaluate and analyze the company’s provided data. 

What is EDGAR?

EDGAR is a government database that holds millions of company filings from corporations, money market funds, ETFs, and variable annuities from insurance companies. 

EDGAR started in 1984 as a pilot project by the SEC. The goal of the project was to replace the old-school process of distributing and filing SEC paperwork. This pilot program has gradually expanded over the years. Since 1996, companies have been required to submit all electronic documents via EDGAR.

Over the last 30 plus years, the SEC’s EDGAR database has grown into a massive database with tens of millions of public filing documents. It currently serves over 3,000 new filings per day, and over 40,000 new companies filing documents every single year. 

Once the documents are filed, they become publicly available to anyone with a computer and internet connection. 

Access to the EDGAR system is entirely free and all the database information is entirely available to the public.

Types of Information EDGAR Can Uncover

EDGAR contains many different types of filing documents you can access. There are nearly 400 different types of SEC filings done via EDGAR every single year. 

The range of filings varies widely including, company exemption requests, audited financial statements, quarterly public reports, and more. 

Here are the most common form types you can find with EDGAR:

  • Form 10-Q. These are quarterly public reports that include company financial statements, quarterly results, and management discussions.
  • Form 10-K. These are annual reports by publicly held companies, and also includes audited financial statements and discussions from the results of the previous year. 
  • Form 8-K. These reports include information about significant events that may affect the corporation and its investors and need to be disclosed before the next quarterly report. 
  • Proxy statements. These are reports to shareholders about events that will be put to a vote in the next shareholder meeting. 

Shareholder Meetings

Mutual funds, public companies, and ETFs must send proxy statements out to shareholders. These statements describe the matters which will be voted on in the meetings and include compensation information.  

Executive Compensation

Domestic public companies must disclose how the CEO and other highly paid executives are compensated, and explain the process by how the board and executive are compensated. 

Insider Transactions

Corporate officers, insiders, directors, and those that hold more than 10 percent of the company’s equity securities must disclose the holdings and transactions of those securities. 

Beneficial Ownership Interest

Individual people or groups that acquire more than five percent of a public company voting securities must disclose their holdings. Companies also regularly disclose who their majority shareholders are, along with investment managers, mutual funds, and more. 

Business Combinations

This describes how a merger or acquisition is structured. There will be different types of forms available depending on the type of transaction. 

Public Offerings

There are a variety of public offering statements that a company must file before its initial public offering. This includes a registration statement, prospectus, SEC correspondence, and more. 

Securities-based Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a way to raise money from a large number of contributors or from small individual investments.  Companies who raise money this way need to file on EDGAR.

Regulation A Offering

Regulation A lets companies raising up to $50 million in the next 12 months to offer securities to the public with more limited disclosure. This usually leads to another filing before an initial public offering.

Foreign Private Issuers

These are companies that were either organized or formed outside of the US. These companies may need to file certain SEC forms that traditional public companies need to file. 

Mutual Funds and ETFs

Mutual funds and ETFs are required to file similar forms that public companies do. However, they may also need to file different forms than money market forms file. 

Variable Annuities

Variable Annuities will make similar filings as ETFs and mutual funds. To view these forms search and filter by the marketing name of the variable annuity contract. 

Exhibits

A variety of exhibits are required in filings and can include a variety of documents and forms, like material agreements, financial statements, presentations, company bylaws, and more.  

EDGAR Search Term Breakdown

There are multiple methods of conducting searches and filtering results. These terms will help you use and navigate the tool:

  • Company name. The full name of the company. 
  • Company ticker symbol. The stock symbol that’s an arrangement of letters to represent the company. 
  • Mutual fund. A company that’s a collection of various holdings like stocks, bonds, and other assets. 
  • ETF. A bundle of investments that trades similar to a stock. 
  • Insurance annuities. Insurance contracts that provide an investment vehicle for the company. 

How to Use EDGAR

EDGAR is completely free to use. Investors and business owners can get access to the EDGAR database via the SEC home page to make better investment decisions. 

There’s no need to register or create an account either. The database has a search feature, which allows you to search via a company name or ticker symbol. The most recent results are displayed first.

To see the previous documents that have been filed, all you have to do is choose the filing that you’re interested in from the company’s previous filings. 

The documents filed on EDGAR can be viewed in plain text or HTML format. You can also print out these documents to compile into physical reports. 

However, the format for EDGAR filing documents is consistently evolving, as there’s a growing requirement for businesses to file using Inline extensive Business Reporting Language. This makes it much easier for the data to be analyzed and read by software. 

Instead of having to comb through detailed reports and basic text, you can get insights into the data much faster. 

Researching Investments in EDGAR

The EDGAR database provides you with access to financial information about public companies. You can use this database to review all of the information they provide to the SEC.

Beyond public company information, you can also lookup mutual funds, money market funds, variable annuities, and ETFs.

There are two different ways you can access this information. 

You can use this web portal to take you directly to the tool, or search via the www.SEC.gov website, then use one of the following methods: 

  1. Search for a public company by typing in the company name or their ticker symbol into the search bar.
  2. Search for a mutual fund, variable annuity, or ETF using the mutual fund and variable annuities tools, which are optimized for searching through these funds. 

There are more advanced company search tools that are available as well, such as keyword and phrase search, Boolean search, and more.

There are a variety of different searches you can conduct within EDGAR including:

Here are the types of filters you can apply to your search results: 

  • A company’s latest filings and date of the filing
  • A company’s central index key number (CIK number)
  • Type of industry classification (SIC)
  • Key mutual fund disclosures
  • Mutual fund voting records
  • Daily filings by type of filing
  • Confidential treatment orders
  • EDGAR correspondence
  • Historical EDGAR documents

SEC EDGAR FAQ

Do you have to be a business owner to access EDGAR?

No, EDGAR is a database that is entirely open to the public. All that’s required is an internet connection. 

Are the EDGAR reports the same as annual shareholder reports?

There is overlap between the two. But, in general, a company’s annual report is a simplified version of the forms you’ll find in EDGAR. 

What types of companies are available on EDGAR?

Any public company that’s required to file with the SEC regulatory body will be available on EDGAR. You’ll also find mutual funds, ETFs, and variable annuities. 

What can you use the EDGAR information for?

You can use the information available through EDGAR for any purpose. However, the most common is to help inform investment decisions and other types of business or market analysis. 

Additional EDGAR Resources