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Form an LLC in California

Start an LLC in California

Want to start a California LLC? Not sure where to begin? Most California LLCs start with the following steps:

  1. File California LLC Articles of Organization
  2. Write an operating agreement
  3. Apply for a FEIN from the IRS
  4. Submit your initial Statement of Information
  5. Get a city or county business license
  6. Obtain any permits or professional licenses

California registered agent seated at table

   Local experts like us can guide     you through the process!

Forming a California LLC can be labor-intensive—especially considering each step has its own requirements. Just to submit Articles of Organization, you’ll need to decide on a name, registered agent, and management style for your business. That’s why it’s important to hire someone who understands California business formation through and through.

And who knows California better than locals? At California Registered Agent, our local experts take the hassle out of starting an LLC with our comprehensive formation package. We create and submit your Articles of Organization, provide you with custom organizing documents, let you choose a business domain, and give you a full year of registered agent service for as low as $239—including state filing fees!

California LLC Articles of Organization

What exactly are Articles of Organization? This is a document you submit to the California Secretary of State in order to legally form and register your LLC in California.

What to Include in California Articles of Organization

To complete your California LLC Articles of Organization, you must provide the following information about your business:

  • California LLC Name
    Your California LLC’s name must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviated form of this designation. To see if your name is available, you can conduct a basic search using California’s Business Search. For a more comprehensive search, you can request a free availability check by mail using a Name Availability Inquiry Letter.
  • Business Address
    List your company’s designated address—where your LLC’s records are kept. This must be a physical address in California. You can also include your LLC’s mailing address if different.
  • Service of Process
    Service of process is when your LLC is served an official notification regarding a lawsuit or court summons. Your California LLC is required to designate a specific person or corporation to be regularly available at a designated location to accept any service of process. California uses many different names for a designated person or corporation:

– registered agent
– resident agent
– agent for service of process,
– corporate agent,
– registered corporate agent
– statutory agent

          They’re all just titles for an agent designated to accept service of process.

Registered Agent: Individual vs Corporation
Your registered agent can either be an individual or a corporation. What’s the difference? Individual agents must be a resident of California and must include their address in the Articles of Organization.

A corporation must be registered as an agent with the California Secretary of State. There are advantages to a corporate registered agent (like us!). At California Registered Agent Inc, we give you:


When you use our address on public documents like your Articles, you keep yours private—and avoid all the spam.


We scan documents daily to ensure you have access to important documents right away.


You have a business to run. You don’t need to be tied to a desk. We make sure you never miss a critical notification.

  • Management
    LLCs can be managed by their members (like in a partnership) or by managers. Managers don’t have to be members of your LLC. In your Articles, designate which management style your California LLC will use.
  • Organizer
    Your organizer signs and delivers your California LLC Articles of Organization. Organizers don’t have to be members, managers, or anyone with ownership interest in your LLC. Hire us, and we’ll be your organizers.

Submit California LLC Articles of Organization

Submit your California LLC Articles of Organization online, by mail or in person.

  • Online: Use the California Secretary of State’s Online Service. Fees are payable by Visa or MasterCard.
  • By Mail: Download a paper version of the California LLC Articles of Organization from the Secretary of State website. Fees are payable by check or money order.
  • In Person: In-person filings require the same form as mailed filings but are subject to a mandatory additional $15 priority fee. Fees are payable by check, money order, Visa or MasterCard.

Filing Fees

The filing fee for California LLC Articles of Organization is normally $70. The required Initial Statement of Information is $20. When you hire us, we’ll submit your LLC’s Articles of Organization along with its Initial Statement of Information.

Expedited Processing

Processing times in California are surprisingly slow—it can easily take days for a domestic LLC formed online or in person. They actually have a web page just for checking Current Processing Times.

You can speed up the process to 1 business day, however, if you pay a $350 expedite fee.

All of this is just what’s required to submit your California LLC Articles of Organization—the first of many steps to launching your California LLC. Seems like a lot? Our formation services package can lighten the load.

Our Formation Services

We know starting a business in California can be overwhelming. Our whole business model is designed around making formation easier and more affordable.

How It Works

  1. Order Now: We ask you a few simple questions.
  2. Submission: We create and submit your Articles within 24 hours.
  3. Registered Agent: We provide a year of our registered agent service with our local experts ($49/year).
  4. Operating Agreement, Initial Resolutions and More: We give you custom documents so you can quickly organize your business and open a business bank account.
  5. California Business Presence: We have everything you need to create your entire online business presence, with a domain, website, email, SSL, and California phone number with virtual phone service.
  6. Compliance Tools: We remind you of California filing requirements, like your Statement of Information.

What We Charge

Choose the processing time for the formation package that best fits your needs and budget.

  • 6 business days (online filing)
    $239: includes state filing fees
  • 1 business day
    $589: includes state filing fees and expediting fees

FAQ for California LLCs

Once your Articles have been approved, you have a registered California LLC! However, there’s still a lot to do.

Navigating California’s unique fees, filings, taxes, and reports can be complicated. The answers to the questions below are intended as a general guide, not as tax or legal advice.

California Statement of Information

  • What is a California Statement of Information?
    This is a combination of an initial and a biennial report that must be submitted to the California Secretary of State. This report updates the state with your California LLC’s most current contact and ownership information.
  • When is my California Statement of Information due?
    The initial statement is due within 90 days of formation. After that, your statement is due at the end of your registration month every two years. You can submit your statement up to six months before the due date.
  • How do I submit a Statement of Information?
    The fastest way to submit a California Statement of Information is online using bizfile California. The processing time is usually one day. Your California Statement of Information can also be mailed or submitted in person. The filing fee is $20 for a California domestic LLC.
  • Do I have to submit a statement if my information is the same?
    Yes, but if you’re not submitting online, there is a different form. File a Statement of No Change instead of Statement of Information. Filing fees and due dates are the same.

California DBA

  • What is a California DBA?
    A California DBA is a “doing business as” name for your California LLC. What this means is that the name you use for your business is not the same as the name you listed in your Articles of Organization. DBAs (also known as “trade names”) are like customer-facing pseudonyms for your company, which can be useful when shifting branding or creating separation between your personal and business identity.
  • How do I get a California DBA?
    To get a DBA in California, you’ll need to file a fictitious business name (FBN) statement at your county clerk’s office. You can secure a DBA (also known as a “trade name”) when you start your company or later on. If you are a client, just add “Trade Name Service” inside your online client account and we’ll take care of this filing for you for $125 plus state fees. Hiring us today? Same thing—you can add “Trade Name Service” inside your client account.

California Permits & Licenses

  • Do I need a business license in California?
    Yes. You’re required to obtain a business license from the city or county where your LLC is registered. City and county licensing information can be found using the CalGold Business Permit System.
  • What other permits and licenses are required in California?
    The Board of Equalization maintains a list of permits and licenses for various business activities. For example, if you plan to sell goods, you’ll need a California Seller’s Permit. Certain occupations—from acupuncturists to real estate appraisers—also require licensing. The Department of Consumer Affairs has a list of licensed professions.


  • What is a FEIN?
    A Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN) is a tax ID issued by the IRS. This number is used to identify your business on tax filings.
  • Does my California LLC need a FEIN?
    Yes. California uses your FEIN to help identify your business on tax filings, like the franchise tax. There are other reasons you may need a FEIN as well, such as if you have employees. FEINs are also often requested when opening a business bank account.
  • How do I get a FEIN?
    You can apply for one directly from the IRS at no cost. If you’d prefer we apply on your behalf, you can add FEIN service to our formation package for $50.

California Franchise Tax

  • What is the California Franchise Tax?
    A franchise tax is a tax for the privilege of doing business in the state. It’s required of all California entities.
  • What is the franchise tax rate?
    Most California LLCs are taxed as partnerships and pay an $800 tax.
  • When is the franchise tax due?
    Soon! Your first franchise tax is due on the 15th day of the fourth month after you register your LLC. The month of your registration counts as your first month. So, if you registered on March 17th, your tax is due June 15th. Afterwards, your tax will be due on April 15th each year if you operate on a calendar year.

California Annual LLC Fee

  • What is the Annual LLC Fee?
    This is a fee that California LLCs pay if their total income is over $250,000. LLCs taxed as corporations are not subject to this fee.
  • How much is the Annual LLC Fee?
    The fee depends on your total income:

$250,000-$499,999: $900 fee
$500,000-$$999,999: $2,500 fee
$1,000,000-$4,999,999: $6,000 fee
$5,000,000+: $11,790 fee

  • When is the Annual LLC Fee due?
    California requires LLCs to estimate what they will owe for the year and pay the estimated fee by the 15th day of the sixth month of the current taxable year. This includes the year of your formation—so again, if your LLC registers on March 17th, your first fee will be due August 15th. If you underestimate, you’ll have to make up the difference plus pay a penalty of 10% of the year’s fee.

California LLC Form 568

  • What is Form 568?
    This is a tax filing all California LLCs classified as partnerships are required to submit. While you don’t pay your franchise tax or Annual LLC Fee with this filing, you’ll report these payments. You’ll also report your total income and other taxes, such as withholding and use taxes.
  • When is Form 568 due?
    The 15th day of the third month after the close of the fiscal year.

At California Registered Agent Inc, we’re in the business of making formation easier. We’re happy to file your Articles, give you custom documents and provide you with expert registered agent service. Sign up today!