In order to form an LLC in California, you must file a California Articles of Organization with the state. PRIME Corporate Services has put together a step-by-step guide on completing this process. Need more help? You can check out our main informational page or reach out to one of our PRIME advisors for a free consultation

Step 1: Acquire the California Articles of Organization Forms

There are two options for acquiring this form. You can download the Articles of Organization PDF from the California Secretary of State, which will need to be mailed or physically brought to the Secretary of State office. The other option is to access the form online.  

Step 2: Complete the California Articles of Organization Form 

The next stop in the process is to fill out the California Articles of Organization form.

You must have access to three pieces of information to fill out the form: 

  1. Entity Name and Address
  2. Name and Address of Agent for Service of Process (Registered Agent)
  3. Governing Authority Type to fill out the form. 

California Articles of Organization: Entity Name and Address

Your LLC must have a legally correct and unique name to be approved. 

The name must fit the California naming guidelines (listed below) and not have the same name as another preexisting California business. 

California Naming Guidelines

  • The name must include “limited liability company” or LLC or L.L.C.
  • The name can’t include government agency-related words (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • The name can’t include the words: bank, trust, trustee, incorporated, inc., corporation, or corp.
  • The name cannot include the words suggesting that it issues policies of insurance and deals with insurance risks.
  • The name must be different from other registered California LLCs.  

Check Name Availability

You can check if your desired name is available by conducting a name search through the California Secretary of State website.

Register Your Domain Name

One way to secure your business name informally is to see if it is available as a web domain. Purchasing a URL early can help secure your name. 

California Articles of Organization: Agent for Service of Process/Governing Authority

The agent for service of process, also known as a registered agent, is in charge of handling legal documents for the LLC. An agent name is required when registering your California LLC. 

The agent must be 18 years or older and lives in California. They must always be available during business hours. 

You also must decide if your LLC will be managed by one or more managers or all of its members.

If you have any questions about this process, schedule a  free consultation call with one of our PRIME advisors.  

Step 3: File the California Articles of Organization

You must register your LLC with the Secretary of State. 

There are two ways to file your Articles of Organization with this office :

The State Filing Cost is $70. The turnaround time typically processes online filings within 2-3 days and in-person mail gets filed within approximately one week. 

Steps After Your California LLC Is Officially Formed

After filing the Articles of Organization, you should:

Create a California LLC Operating Agreement

It is best practice to create a California LLC Operating Agreement, a legal document that outlines the role each person plays within the LLC. 

This step is not required but it is still a good idea. This agreement can be filed at any point during the Articles of Organization. This will be kept in your LLC’s private business records.

Get an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is an LLC’s social security number. This number is needed for hiring employees or opening business bank accounts.

You can get your EIN through the IRS website, mail, or fax.

Open a Business Bank Account

Opening a business bank account is important, in order not to mix your personal with your business assets. The sooner an account can be opened, the less likely it is to mix the assets. 

Get Licenses and Permits

Acquiring the proper licenses and permits are key to registering your LLC. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guide has federal business licenses and permits guidelines.

The California State Starting a Business website is a key place to look for state regulations involving California permit and license standards. 

Local clerks are a good place to ask about county licenses and permits.

PRIME Corporate Services can help you with all of the steps in this process. Reach out to us today for a free consultation!

Starting an LLC in California: Additional Resources