A public corporation is a company whose shares are listed to be traded on a public market, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). When a company goes public, it will undertake its initial public offering (IPO) after submitting Form S-1 (which is a registration statement) to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). When a corporation finally goes public, it will be required to file annual reports, quarterly reports, and current reports using Form 10-K, Form 10-Q, and Form 8-K, among others with the SEC, according to the Securities Act.
The opposite term is private corporation, which has private placements.
[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]