How to Incorporate or Form an LLC in California

California Overview: California is our 2nd highest volume state behind Texas so we have deep experience after filing several thousand corporations and LLC's with the California Secretary of State. 

Things to Watch for: Name rules in Calfornia can be complicated by the fact that you have to verify name availability by phone (using a prepaid account) if you're not absolutely certain after searching their databases. Also, California is unique in that they have separate departments for Corporations and LLC filings which means they also maintain separate name databases for each. 

Incorporate

1. Make sure your company name choice is available.

Your company name must include the correct corporate identifier:

Corporations: "Corporation", "Incorporated" or an abbreviation.

Business Name & Business Purpose Restrictions:

  • May not contain the word "bank," "trust," "trustee," and shall not contain the words "insurer" or "insurance company" or any other words suggesting that it is in the business of issuing policies of insurance and assuming insurance risks.
  • The following business purposes require the formation of a "Professional Corporation" or "PC":
    • Accounting
    • Acupuncture
    • Architecture
    • Chiropractic
    • Clinical social work
    • Dentistry
    • Law
    • Marriage, family, and child counseling
    • Medicine
    • Nursing
    • Optometry
    • Osteopathy
    • Pharmacy
    • Physical therapy
    • Physician assistants
    • Podiatry
    • Psychology
    • Shorthand court reporters
    • Speech-language pathology and audiology

2. File the correct paperwork with the California Secretary of State's Filing Division

For Corporations you must file "Articles of Incorporation". Note that as many filings submitted are rejected so it is important that these documents be error free and submitted in the proper format with correct cover letter, payment and filing instructions (less than 1% of our filings are rejected).

3. Hold the "Organizational Meeting" and adopt the company’s Bylaws (Corporations).

The Organizational Meeting is how you determine the percentage of ownership for each shareholder as well as resolve to do tasks like open a company bank account, pay back pre-incorporation expenses, elect S-Corporation status and more.

4. Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) for your company and open a company bank account.

5. Get a local business license from the city (or county) where you will be doing business.

6. Submit the Corporation Statement of Information

This is a form that is due approximately 90 days after forming the California corporation or LLC. This form is the equivalent of an "Annual Report". Clients who utilize our service will receive the form and assistance with completing/submitting the form to the California Secretary of State Filing Division.

Stock Information

In California, you can authorize an unlimited number of shares of No Par Value stock.

Yearly Requirements

  • California imposes an $800 Franchise Tax on all newly formed LLC’s and Corporations and $800/year thereafter.
  • Click here for more info on the Franchise Tax.
  • Annual Report (called the "Statement of Information") due every other year.

Form an LLC

1. Make sure your company name choice is available.

Your company name must include the correct LLC identifier:

LLC’s: "Limited Liability Company" or an abbreviation.

Business Name & Business Purpose Restrictions:

  • May not contain the word "bank," "trust," "trustee," and shall not contain the words "insurer" or "insurance company" or any other words suggesting that it is in the business of issuing policies of insurance and assuming insurance risks.
  • Real estate firms or contractors cannot form a California LLC.
  • The following business purposes require the formation of a "Professional Corporation" or "PC":
    • Accounting
    • Acupuncture
    • Architecture
    • Chiropractic
    • Clinical social work
    • Dentistry
    • Law
    • Marriage, family, and child counseling
    • Medicine
    • Nursing
    • Optometry
    • Osteopathy
    • Pharmacy
    • Physical therapy
    • Physician assistants
    • Podiatry
    • Psychology
    • Shorthand court reporters
    • Speech-language pathology and audiology

2. File the correct paperwork with the State’s filing office.

For LLC’s you must file "Articles of Organization".

3. Hold the "Organizational Meeting" and adopt the company’s Operating Agreement (LLC’s).

4. Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) for your company and open a company bank account.

5. Get a local business license from the city (or county) where you will be doing business.

Yearly Requirements

  • California imposes an $800 Franchise Tax on all newly formed LLC’s and Corporations and $800/year thereafter.
  • Click here for more info on the Franchise Tax.
  • Annual Report (called the "Statement of Information") due every other year.

FAQ's

Should I incorporate or form an LLC?

Please read our "Which Entity to Choose" page that gives you a great overview of the various business entities and can help you decide. 

How much does it cost?

Click here to view current state fees by selecting "California" and they type of entity you wish to form. 

How long will it take?

Visit our order form to see how long it is currently taking the California filings department to process new filings. 

What about Delaware, Wyoming or Nevada (or a New Mexico LLC)?

Many of our clients choose to incorporate or form their LLC outside of the state where they live for various reason. Visit this page on choosing a state to see the various reasons and options. 

MyNewCompany.com can assist you will all the steps above. We can incorporate your company in any State for much less than an attorney and less than our competitors. Since 2001, we’ve formed thousands of corporations and LLC’s for our clients. Our service includes:
  • Checking your company name for availability.
  • Preparing and filing the formation paperwork with the appropriate State filing office.
  • Preparing your "Organizational Meeting minutes" and Bylaws or Operating Agreement "ready for signature" with step-by-step instructions.
  • We can help you obtain your FEIN by preparing the appropriate form (allowing your to obtain your FEIN instantly over the phone once your filing is complete).
  • A Startup Checklist for California that includes the remaining steps to properly setup your company with links to all the government agencies in your State. (NOTE: Click here for our basic startup checklist for any State.)
  • Our partner, Business Licenses, LLC can assist you with finding, filling and submitting the necessary forms to get your local business license online. Click here to submit your business license online (after you’ve completed steps 1-4 above).