California LLC Formation

Starting a Limited Liability Company in California

An LLC in California is formed by submitting formation documents and proper filing fee to the Document Filing Support Unit, Business Services Division, of the Secretary of State of California in Sacramento.

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Steps to forming a California Limited Liability Company

The formation document of a California LLC is called the Articles of Organization. Specific information about your business is required.

At a minimum, the following sections must be included in your Articles of Organization:

  • Name: California requires LLCs to include the phrase "Limited Liability Company," or an accepted abbreviation of that term, in the legal name of the entity. can perform a business name search to determine the availability of your name, reducing your chances of being rejected for an unacceptable name.
    There are a few restrictions on words that may be included in the name of your California LLC—“trust”, “insurer,” etc. If you are not sure whether you are able to use a specified name, we recommend that you clear that name prior to attempting to file it; make sure you're also doing research into your geographic location, your expansion opportunities, and other factors that should go into how to name your business.
  • Purpose: In this item a statement of purpose is provided by the state and is not to be altered in any way. The statement is: “The purpose of the limited liability company is to engage in any lawful act or activity for which a limited liability company may be organized under the Beverly-Killea Limited Liability Company Act.”
  • Agent: Your Articles must specify an individual, corporation, or LLC (separate from the LLC that you are currently forming) to act as agent of the LLC. This person will act as the contact person and must provide a physical address for their place of business or residence.
  • Management: In this item you will indicate whether your Limited Liability Company will be managed by one manager, more than one manager, or all limited liability company member(s). Only one of these three options may be selected.
  • Additional Information: If you require space for additional information to support your application to become a California LLC, attach the pages to the Articles. Any and all attached pages are considered a valid part of the application to become a California LLC.
  • Execution: Whoever fills out and files the Articles of Organization should sign in this space. The organizer does not have to be a member of the LLC.

If you change addresses, registered agent, or anything else that was laid out in the Articles, you will need to submit an amendment to those Articles so that the state has current information on your company at all times.

Additional Requirements for Forming an LLC in California

California requires that LLCs file an initial Statement of Information within 90 days of filing. Additionally, LLCs must file a biennial report with the state; these biennial reports are due by the last day of the end of the anniversary month the filing became effective, every two years. Failure to comply will result in fees and/or penalties.

California LLCs not taxed as corporations are required to pay a minimum annual tax of $800 to the California Franchise Tax Board. LLCs that are taxed as corporations determine their incomes via the Corporation Tax Law, beginning with section 23001, California Revenue and Taxation Code.

Other Types of Businesses in California

For information on other types of businesses in California, please explore the links below.

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