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How To Form A Corporation In California

Start a California Corporation

Considering forming a corporation in the Golden State? Incorporating in California typically requires the following steps:

  1. File California Articles of Incorporation
  2. Hold an organizational meeting
  3. Apply for an 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 at desk

 Let our local California experts               help you incorporate!

The paperwork can be daunting. Just the first document alone is full of terms that may be unfamiliar, Service of process? Incorporator? Our local experts know all the jargon and the little unique forms required to start and maintain a California business. In fact, we provide these forms for our clients—filled out in advance—to speed up the process and ensure accurate filings.

At California Registered Agent Inc, we take the headache out of incorporation. That’s why we hire local experts: to ensure speedy and affordable services. We create and file your Articles of Incorporation, give you custom bylaws and initial resolutions, let you choose a business domain, and provide you with registered agent service (a requirement for state compliance). And because we’re local, our incorporation starts as low as $274, including state filing fees.

California Articles of Incorporation

The first step to starting a California corporation is submitting Articles of Incorporation to the California Secretary of State. Approval of this document forms and registers your corporation in California.

What to Include in California Articles of Incorporation

In your California Articles of Incorporation, you designate important aspects of your new corporation, such as its name and how many shares of stock it will have.

  • Corporate Name
    One of the following words or abbreviations must be included in your corporation’s name: Corporation (Corp), Company (Co), Incorporated (Inc), Limited (Ltd) or Incorporation.Check your name’s availability 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 Addresses
    Include the initial street address of your corporation (no PO Boxes). If you have a different mailing address, you can include this as well. Mailing addresses can be PO Boxes.
  • Service of Process
    You’re required to appoint a registered agent. A California registered agent accepts service of process (an official notification regarding a lawsuit or court summons) for your corporation. Your agent can either be an individual California resident or a corporation that has registered with the state as a registered agent service provider.
  • Shares
    In your Articles, you’ll include how many shares you’re authorizing. You must authorize at least one share. Authorizing is creating shares—you can issue some or all of these shares to shareholders later on at your corporation’s organizational meeting.If you use the standard form for California Articles of Incorporation, you’re only permitted to include one class of shares. If you want more than one class of shares (such as common and preferred shares), you’ll have to write out your own Articles of Incorporation.
  • Incorporator
    An incorporator signs and delivers your California Articles of Incorporation. Your incorporator doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or anyone with ownership interest in your corporation. We will serve as your incorporators if you hire us.

Submit California Articles of Incorporation

You can file your California Articles of Organization form online, by mail or in person.

Filing Fees

The filing fee is normally $100 for a California domestic corporation. You will need to pay $20 for the required Initial Statement of Information fee and a $5 disclosure fee for a combined total of $25.

Payment Methods

Online: Visa or MasterCard
By Mail: Check or money order
In Person: Check, money order, Visa or MasterCard

Expedited Processing

Processing times are variable. In-person filings are prioritized over other filings, but there is no guaranteed processing time unless you pay for expediting.

Prioritized filing: +$15 (hand delivered)
1-day expedited filing: +$350

Or, you can skip this process and let us complete and submit your Articles of Incorporation, Initial Statement of Information—and much more!

Our Formation Services

At California Registered Agent Inc, our goal is to simplify business formation. Our local specialists help businesses organize and incorporate daily, and we’ve developed a low-cost formation package that gives you everything you need to get started—without all the frustration.

How It Works

  1. Order Now: Answer a few simple questions on our order form.
  2. Submission: Within 24 hours, we create and submit your Articles.
  3. Registered Agent: We provide a full year of local California registered agent service ($49/year).
  4. Bylaws, Initial Resolutions and More: We provide custom documents so you have the tools your need for your organizational meeting and opening a corporate 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 reporting requirements, like your California Statement of Information.

What We Charge

Our formation package options all include our same great services—just choose the processing speed that best matches your needs and budget.

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

  • 6 business days (online filing)
    $274: includes state filing fees
  • 1 business day
    $624: includes state filing fees and expediting fees

FAQ for California Corporations

Still have questions? From registered agents to reports and taxes, we’ve included answers to common incorporation questions below.

Registered Agent

Is there a difference between a registered agent and an agent for service of process?
No. California uses several names for an agent designated to accept service of process, including registered agent, resident agent, and agent for service of process. Corporations that accept service of process are often called corporate agents.

Are there any benefits to a corporate registered agent?
Yes. Business documents like your Articles of Incorporation are public. If you use a corporate registered agent service, their address will be listed on public documents, not yours.

Also, individual registered agents are individuals—if that person takes a vacation, gets sick, or goes to a meeting, you could miss a court summons. A registered corporate agent service, however, ensures you never miss a critical notification.

California Registered Agent Inc is a corporate registered agent service, registered with the Secretary of State. We provide expert registered agent service for just $49 a year—with renewals always at the same low price.

Organizational Meeting

What is an organizational meeting?
Your corporation’s organizational meeting is the first chance you have to finish organizing your business. At the organizational meeting, you can elect directors, appoint officers, issue shares of stock, and adopt bylaws.

We include free, custom bylaws in our formation package to help your California corporation begin smoothly.

California Statement of Information

What is a California Statement of Information?
This is an annual report that updates the Secretary of State with your corporation’s contact and ownership information.

When is the California Statement of Information due?
Your corporation’s first Statement of Information is due pretty fast—within 90 days of registration. Your statement thereafter are due yearly, at the end of your registration month.

How do I submit a Statement of Information?
You can submit online using bizfile California. The processing time is typically one day. You can also print a paper California Statement of Information to mail or submit in person.

What is the filing fee for the Statement of Information?
$25 (this total includes a mandatory $5 disclosure fee).

If my information hasn’t changed, do I still submit a statement?
Yes, but if you file by mail or in person, 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 name you use for your business that is not listed in your Articles of Incorporation. Known as “doing business as” or a “trade name,” California DBAs are like aliases for your business that can be useful for branding or creating separation between you and your company.

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. Ordering our services today? Same thing—you can add “Trade Name Service” inside your client account.

California Permits & Licenses

Does my corporation need a California business license?
Yes. While the state itself doesn’t issue business licenses, you’re required to obtain a business license from the city or county where your business is registered. You can find city and county licensing information with the CalGold Business Permit System.

What other permits and licenses are required in California?
Depending on your business activities, you may need permits or licenses for sales, hazardous waste, and even underground storage tank maintenance. The Board of Equalization maintains a list of permits and licenses.

Some professions also require state licensing, such as architects, barbers, geologists and nurses. The Department of Consumer Affairs has a list of licensed professions.


Do I need a FEIN for my California corporation?
Yes. Corporations are required to get a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) for federal tax filings. FEINs are also used in many state tax filings as well.

How do I get a FEIN?
The IRS issues FEINs, and you can apply on their website. If you file yourself, there’s no filing fee. However, 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?
This is a tax for the privilege of doing business in the state. It’s required of all California entities.

What is the corporate franchise tax rate?
Standard corporations pay an annual minimum franchise tax of $800. This is in addition to the corporate net income tax. The corporate net income tax rate is 8.84%.

Creating a California corporation can be a chore—but it doesn’t have to be. Our incorporation package takes care of your Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, registered agent compliance requirements and more! Incorporate with California Registered Agent Inc today!