Start a California LLC
You’re ready to make your LLC in California a reality—but where to start? There are a few different filings to take care of, including:
- Articles of Organization
- Business & Professional Licenses
- California Reports & Taxes
We go over each of these topics below in detail. And if you’d like more support, we’ve also designed a comprehensive and low-cost formation service package to help you get started.
For $169, our local specialists file your California Articles of Organization and initial report, provide you a California business address for your filings, help you organize with free custom operating agreements and initial resolutions, and act as your agent for service of process for a full year so you stay in compliance with the Secretary of State.
For a limited time: California has waived LLC formation filing fees until June 30, 2023! (The $20 Statement of Information fee is still due.) This means the price of our LLC formation package starts at only $169!
Think a corporate designation might be better for your business? Checkout our hassle-free California incorporation services.
ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION
So what are the first steps to realizing your business dreams? All domestic California LLCs begin the same way—by submitting California LLC Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State. This document asks you for your company’s:
NAME: Include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation in your name. Ensure your name isn’t already in use with a preliminary online Business Search and a more comprehensive Name Availability Inquiry Letter.
ADDRESS: You have to list a California street address. Note: This will be posted on the California Secretary of State’s website. Hire us and we’ll provide you with our California business address to list here.
AGENT FOR SERVICE OF PROCESS: Appoint a California agent for service of process for your LLC. We can be your agent for just $49 a year—and you’ll never have to worry about missing a process server. And with our address on your public documents (Articles of Organization, Statement of Information, etc.), you can avoid spam and solicitors. That’s about $4 a month for privacy and peace of mind.
MANAGEMENT: You can hire or appoint managers for your LLC in California, or members can manage the LLC themselves. Tick the box that matches your management plans.
ORGANIZER: An organizer has to sign your Articles. Organizers submit the Articles, but they aren’t required to be involved with the LLC. If you sign up for our formation package, we’ll be your organizer.
Submit Articles of Organization online or download and print the California Articles of Organization form to drop off in person. Online filings take 5 business days. Walk-in filings take 3 business days (add $15 for the counter drop-off fee). Processing times are subject to change. You can check Current Processing Times online.
Statement of Information
Drop Off Fee
24-Hour Expediting Fee*
* Expediting is now available in person or online. If you expedite online, you’ll avoid the $15 drop off fee.
BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL LICENSES
After the Secretary of State processes and approves your California LLC Articles of Organization, it’s time to apply for licenses—at minimum, you’ll need a local business license.
California LLCs require business licenses, which are issued by either the city or county where your business is registered. You may also need permits or licenses for business activities, like sales. The CalGold Business Permit System can help you identify the permits and licenses your LLC needs.
Licensing is required for a variety of professions, including accountants, dentists, and locksmiths. For a list of licensed occupations in California, visit the Department of Consumer Affairs website.
CALIFORNIA REPORTS & TAXES
California’s reporting and tax filing requirements start quickly—your first report will be due within 90 days, and your first franchise tax payment is due within a few months.
Within 90 days of your California LLC’s registration, you’ll have to submit your first Statement of Information to the Secretary of State. The information required is similar to your Articles of Organization. The purpose of the report is to update the state with your LLC’s information.
Submit your statement online with bizfile California or download a California Statement of Information form to mail or drop off in person. The fee is $20.
After this report, you’ll have to submit the same report every two years at the end of your registration month. For example, if your LLC was registered on March 8, 2018, your first biennial statement is due March 31, 2020.
Taxes for LLCs in California are somewhat unique—there’s a franchise tax, an Annual LLC fee and more. While we don’t purport to be tax experts, below is some basic information for a standard California LLC (one that’s taxed as a partnership and uses a traditional calendar tax year).
- EIN: You’ll need an Employer Identification Number from the IRS for these state filings. You can get one for free from the IRS (or you can add EIN service to our formation package for $50).
- Franchise Tax: This is a flat $800 tax for the privilege of doing business in California. The tax is normally due April 15th, but your first tax is due on the 15th day of the fourth month after your LLC’s registration in California (your month of registration counts as a month, so if you register on July 28th, your first tax is due October 15th).
- Annual LLC Fee: If your LLC’s total income is over $250,000, you’ll need to pay a fee as indicated below. You’ll need to estimate your fee for the whole year, but you’ll pay the estimate by June 15th. Your very first fee is a little different—it’s due by the 15th day of the sixth month after registration (so if you register on July 28th, your fee is due December 15th). If your estimate is too low, you’ll have to pay the rest of the fee, plus a 10% penalty.
$5,000,000 or more
- Form 568: This tax filing is due April 15th. Form 568 reports all your tax info on one form—you’ll list what you paid for the franchise tax and Annual LLC fee, and you’ll include any other state taxes, such as sales or withholding.
As you can see from the guide above, starting a California LLC requires plenty of paperwork. With our formation service package, you can significantly reduce that workload. Formation and agent for service of process services are all we do, and we do it a great price.
- One Year of Agent for Service of Process Service
Get your documents fast with our expert service.
- Instant Access to Your Secure Client Portal
In your account, find your scanned documents and free access to state forms pre-filled with your information.
- Address Privacy
List our California business address on your public formation documents and avoid the junk mail and hassle of a publicly-listed address.
- Custom Organization Documents
With an operating agreement, initial resolutions, and member certificates, we make organizing easy.
- Statement of Information Reminders
We include compliance tools to help ensure you never miss a filing requirement.
- Customer Support
We don’t use automated operators. Our expert customer support staff is happy to assist you.
Our standard package averages 5 business days and includes California state filing fees.
Need your LLC fast? We’ll submit your Articles of Organization and pay the fees for expedited services for processing in 1 business day.
Getting started takes just a few minutes. Why settle for California dreaming? Bring your dreams of a California LLC to life today!