How To Form an LLC In California

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1. Choose a Name for Your California Limited Liability Company

Check for an Available Name for the LLC in California: You must select a name for your company before you file to form a Limited Liability Company in California. Do a search of online databases and other records before you file so that you make sure that a name that you want to use is available and not in use by another LLC in California. You might also want to submit a Name Inquiry Letter to the California Secretary of State. You can download the form online at California LLC.

Reserve a Name for Your California LLC: It is not a requirement to reserve a name for your LLC before you file to form a Limited Liability Company in California, but if you would like to reserve a name you can submit a name reservation application. To download the application form, go to California LLC. The name that you submit will be reserved in California for a period of 60 days. It costs a $10.00 fee to reserve a name.

Filing for Trademarks Protection and Doing an LLC Name Search: When you search databases and other records, you might find that the name that you want to use to form your LLC is available in California but in use by another company somewhere else in the country. There could be restrictions on your use of the name that you have chosen for your LLC. To find more information on choosing a name for your LLC, go to how to choose a name for your llc.

California LLC Name Requirements: In California, you must include the designation "LLC," “L.L.C.,” or "Limited Liability Company" in the name of your Limited Liability Company. Keep in mind that the term “LLC” stands for “Limited Liability Company,” and not “LLC Corporation, “Limited Liability Corporation,” or anything else like that. An LLC is a different kind of business entity than a corporation.

2. Find a Registered Agent in California

You must select a registered agent in California that will act as an agent for service of process. A registered agent receives tax documents, legal notices, and other official notices for an LLC or corporation. There are corporate service companies that offer registered agent services to LLCs for a fee. The fee generally ranges between about $75.00 and $150.00. To find a list of several registered agent services, go to the official website of the California Secretary of State at California LLC.

3. File Articles of Organization with the California Secretary of State

Minimum Requirements for the Articles of Organization: The Articles of Organization that you file for your LLC must contain the name and purpose of your LLC, the name and address your registered agent, and the name of the organizer. You must also indicate how your LLC will be managed, whether by a manager or by the members of the LLC. The Articles of Organization must be signed by the organizer before you submit the document to the California Secretary of State. You can download a form for your Articles of Organization online at California LLC.

Other California Legal Provisions: You might want to consider including additional clauses when you create the Articles of Organization for your LLC. A lawyer can help you when you are creating the Articles of Organization so that you include the additional clauses that are most important for your company.

Where to Submit the Articles of Organization for Filing: You can mail your completed Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State, Document Filing Support Unit, P.O. Box 944228, Sacramento, CA  94244-2280 or drop off the document in person at the Sacramento office, 1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Filing Fee: The filing fee for Articles of Organization in California is $70.00.

4. Form a California Limited Liability Company Agreement (Operating Agreement)

After you form a Limited Liability Company in California by filing Articles of Organization, you will need to create an LLC Agreement that governs how your LLC will be operated. This Agreement must be signed by all the members of your LLC. An LLC is generally operated more simply than a corporation. Your LLC Agreement will govern all aspects between the members of your LLC. The specific details of the LLC Agreement that you create for your LLC will depend on many factors. These factors could include the number of people involved, how much money is being invested, how the money will be distributed, and whether the company will be managed by a manager or by the members. The details of your LLC Agreement will be different depending on what the purpose of your LLC is. For example, your LLC Agreement will probably be different if your LLC will be used to operate a retail store than if your LLC will be used to own and develop real estate. A lawyer and an accountant can help you when it is time to draft your LLC Agreement so that you can be sure to comply with all state requirements and federal tax laws. 

There are other documents such as securities filings that you will need to create or file for your LLC. You must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You might also need a business license. There are companies that can make filings for you and provide you with the form documents that you need in return for a fixed fee. To learn about how to get a business license in your city, go to our online guide at

5.  Qualify your California LLC to Do Business in Other States

You must check to see if you will need to register or qualify the LLC to do business in your home state if your main office is located in another state.  Most states will require you qualify your LLC as well as pay taxes in your home state. To learn about how you can qualify your LLC to do business in other states, go to [Qualifying to Do Business in Other States].

6. Make Annual Filings and Pay Annual Taxes in California

If you have a registered LLC in the state of California, you must file an annual Statement of Information. You can download the form for this report online at California LLC. The filing fee is $20.00 for this statement. Once your LLC is registered in California, you must also file a tax report and pay taxes annually. You can learn about the taxes that may apply to your company online at the official website of the California Tax Service Center at California LLC.

Forming an LLC can be complicated, especially when more than one person is involved. An accountant and an attorney can help you to be sure that an LLC is right for you and that all your paperwork is being processed correctly.

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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