EDGAR, the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system, performs automated collection, validation, indexing, acceptance, and forwarding of submissions by companies and others who are required by law to file forms with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The database is freely available to the public via the Internet (Web or FTP).
Not all SEC filings by public companies are available on EDGAR. Companies were phased in to EDGAR filing over a three-year period, ending 6 May 1996. As of that date, all public domestic companies were required to submit their filings via EDGAR, except for hardcopy paper filings, which were allowed under a hardship exemption. Third-party filings with respect to these companies, such as tender offers and Schedule 13D filings, are also filed via EDGAR.
The vast majority of documents are now filed electronically, with in excess of 3,000 filings per day.
As of 4 November 2002, the SEC required all foreign companies and foreign governments to file their documents via EDGAR. Prior to that time, electronic filing by foreign companies also was voluntary.
Actual annual reports to shareholders (except in the case of mutual fund companies) need not be submitted on EDGAR, although some companies do so voluntarily. However, the annual report on Form 10-K or Form 10-KSB, which contains much of the same information, is required to be filed on EDGAR.