Form an LLC in California with Inc Authority for Free

Inc Authority is the leading free LLC formation services provider trusted and recommended by over 250K businesses nationwide. Leverage their services to start an LLCC in California right now.

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1-Year Registered Agent Service Free

Inc Authority will help you form an LLC in California in a quick and hassle-free manner.

Their team of experts will review and file the paperwork, and expedite filing if you choose a paid plan.

You will also get 1 year of registered agent service completely free of charge with any of the plans.

Things to Know Before Starting an LLC in California

Before you start an LLC in California, you must understand the eligibility and compliance requirements for California LLCs. This way you’ll know what to expect and how to run and grow your business successfully.

Let’s discuss some of the important ones briefly.

  • If you register your business in another state and want to do business in California, your LLC will be a foreign LLC, subject to a registration fee and annual renewal fee.
  • All LLCs in California need to pay $800 as annual tax and an LLC fee (if the business income is over $250,000), which will vary depending on the yearly revenue.
  • Once you register your LLC in California, you need to file a Statement of Information within 90 days, and every 2 years thereafter, with a $20 filing fee each time.
  • You don’t need to pay any fee to file your LLC Articles of Organization with the Secretary of the State. You will, however, need to pay $30 if you want to make any amendments later.

While California is not the best state to start an LLC, it is also not the most expensive. If you reside in California and want to conduct business there, it’s better to form a domestic California LLC rather than registering in a cheaper state and paying for a foreign LLC in California.

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Select a Business Name

Choose a business name that represents your business and makes a good first impression, while also staying compliant with California LLC naming conventions. Avoid misleading names and use the word “LLC” in your business name.

Your chosen business name should not be used by any other business entity within the state. Conduct a business name search to ensure that your chosen business name is unique and not very similar to one used by any other business.

Reserve a Business Name and Domain

Once you find the perfect business name, it’s a good idea to reserve your business name so that no one can take it before you complete your registration process. You can reserve your name for 60 days by submitting an application at a nominal charge.

While you’re reserving your business name, it’s also a good idea to secure a domain name that matches your business name. And if you plan to use social media marketing, secure matching names for your various social media accounts as well.

Appoint a California Registered Agent

Secure the services of a California registered agent. They should be a resident (over 18 years of age) of California, with a physical address in the state, and should be available during regular business hours on weekdays.

The registered agent will be responsible for informing you when your Limited Liability Company is sued. They’ll receive all legal documents on your behalf and notify you of any upcoming business compliance requirements and deadlines.

 Choose a Type of LLC

Choose whether you want to start a domestic LLC in California or a foreign LLC. If you have already registered an LLC in another state and just want to operate in California, you’ll need to register your business as a foreign LLC in the state.

You’ll also need to choose between a member-managed or manager-managed LLC. The former is run by LLC owners, who act on behalf of the LLC and make decisions. In the case of the latter, you need to appoint managers to run and manage your LLC.

 Create an LLC Operating Agreement

Every Limited Liability Company in California is required to have an LLC operating agreement, though they’re not required to file it. This is an important documents that outlines the rules on how the LLC should be managed.

Your California LLC operating agreement lay down the rights of each member, guidelines for management, criteria for dissolution, succession plan, and more. Operating agreements guide the way an LLC is run and decisions are made.

Register Your LLC by Filing California Articles of Organization

Next step in this guide on how to start an LLC in California is to register your business with the Secretary of State and file your LLC articles of organization. This will make your business legal and ready to operate within the state.

You can submit your application online, via mail, or in person. The state has currently waived the filing fee, but that may change. Submit all required documents along with your application and it’ll get approved within 7 business days.

Submit Your California LLC Statement of Information

Once you form an LLC in California, you’re required to submit a California Statement of Information within 90 days from the date of registration. After that, you will need to file this statement every two years to keep your business up and running.

This can also be done online, via mail, or in person, and requires a $20 filing fee. Every time you file your biennial report, you’ll need to pay this fee. In California, this is filed by filling out and submitting Form LLC-12 with the Secretary of State.

Get an Employer Identification No.

Once you’ve completed the previous step, your LLC is officially registered. However, you still need to complete a few more steps before you start operating your business with the state. Getting an EIN or Tax ID is the first step in this list.

An Employer Identification Number is a must if you want to hire employees and pay salaries. It is also how the Internal Revenue Service identifies your business for tax purposes. So, make sure you get one before you start operations.

Open a Business Bank Account

It is essential to keep your personal and business finances separate and that’s why you need a business bank account. You will need both an EIN and an LLC operating agreement to open a business bank account in California.

Having a separate business bank account is also necessary to ensure that your personal assets are protected if the business gets sued. A separate account will prove that your LLC is a legal entity in itself, separate from the LLC members.


 Acquire Business Licenses and Permits

Once you’ve completed the previous step, your LLC is officially registered. However, you still need to complete a few more steps before you start operating your business with the state. Getting an EIN or Tax ID is the first step in this list.

An Employer Identification Number is a must if you want to hire employees and pay salaries. It is also how the Internal Revenue Service identifies your business for tax purposes. So, make sure you get one before you start operations.

Choose Your Tax Structure

One of the key benefits of forming an LLC is that you can choose how you want to be taxed—a Sole Proprietorship, a Partnership, or a Corporation. A single-member LLC, for example, is a disregarded entity and not taxed separately as a business.

A multi-member LLC can choose to be taxed as a C-Corp or an S-Corp or go with the default pass-through taxation. Irrespective of the tax structure, all Limited Liability Companies in California need to pay the $800 annual franchise tax.

File for a DBA (Optional)

The essential steps for forming an LLC in California ended with the previous step. Filing for a DBA (Doing Business As) is completely optional and required only if you want to run your day-to-day business under a different, preferably shorter name.

LLCs in California are required to follow certain naming conventions like adding words like “LLC” in the name, which makes the business names longer. Getting a fictitious name allows you to use a shorter and more memorable name for your LLC.

Get a Trademark (Optional)

When you run a business, you’ll need to use several brand identity elements like a logo or tagline. If you want to ensure that no other business uses your name, logo, brand colors, or other brand identity elements, then you need to get a trademark.

You can register a trademark in California to protect your name, logo, or other brand elements. You also need to check the federal US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to ensure no one has a federal trademark for the same.

Stay Compliant

Once you’ve started an LLC in California, it’s important to stay compliant with the state’s rules and regulations to stay in good standing. If not, your business may be penalized with a fine or could even be dissolved, in some cases.

These compliance requirements include paying taxes on time, filing the biennial report or Statement of Information with the California secretary of state, making amendments to your business information for major changes, and so on.

Why You Should Outsource LLC Formation Instead of Doing it Yourself

Starting an LLC requires a lot of steps, as detailed above, and a single mistake can cost you severely. Outsourcing it to experts like the team at Inc Authority ensures that everything goes smoothly and efficiently. Here’s why you should outsource.

Simplified Process

When you choose Inc Authority, you simply need to fill out an online form and provide the necessary documents and they’ll take care of everything else.

Why do it yourself when you can outsource the service to professionals like Inc Authority for free?

No Errors

When you outsource the service to professionals who do this on a daily basis, you can ensure there are no mistakes that get your application rejected.

Inc Authority’s team will review your application and ensure that there are absolutely no mistakes.

Quick Filing

When a team of experts works on your application, they can get it done much faster than you would, if you were to deal with all the paperwork yourself.

With Inc Authority’s Fasttrack plan, you can get expedited, same-day filing options as well.

Form Your California LLC Today


Here are the features you’ll get with this plan:

  • Business name check: On Inc Authority’s website you’ll find a free search box where you can type your chosen business name and see if there are any other businesses that use the name within the state.
  • 1-year registered agent services: When you opt for a business formation plan (free or paid), you get the services of a California registered agent, also known as a California agent for service of process.
  • Digital document storage: With your Inc Authority account, you get the option to store your business documents like LLC operating agreements, biennial reports, etc. online, where you can easily manage and access them.
  • Tax advisory: An LLC in California offers a lot of tax flexibility, but you need some expertise to make the most of it. Inc Authority will provide you with a tax specialist who will help you choose the right tax structure and get maximum tax savings.
  • LLC formation: The core service that Inc Authority offers is helping you start your new business. This includes filing your California LLC articles of organization with the Secretary of State’s office and getting it processed.
  • S-Corp election and filing: If you want your LLC to be taxed as an S-Corp, you need to fill out and submit an s-election form to get the federal S-Corp status. Inc Authority will help you with filling out and submitting this form.
  • Business funding analysis: Another free service offered by Inc Authority with its free plan is business funding analysis. Experts will assess your funding requirements and also offer trusted sources of funding.

The free plan offers all the basic features you need to start an LLC in California. For more personalized services and premium features, check out its paid plans.

Price: Free


Here are the additional services you’ll get with this plan:

  • LLC operating agreement: LLCs in California are required to draft LLC operating agreements. With Inc Authority’s Starter plan, you get access to templates for creating a comprehensive LLC operating agreement.
  • Ownership certificates: If you intend to issue ownership certificates for members of your California Limited Liability Company, Inc Authority will help you with that by providing a template for creating such certificates.
  • Employer Identification Number: As mentioned earlier, to run an LLC in California you will need to acquire an Employer Identification Number for your business. Inc Authority provides this service with the Starter plan.
  • Corporate forms and documents package: You’ll need a lot of business documents to start and run your LLC. Inc Authority’s corporate forms and legal documents package will help you draft these documents.
  • Annual compliance notifications: While you may not get a dedicated account manager, like in the Fastrack plan, their team will send notifications on your business’ compliance requirements and upcoming deadlines.
  • Detailed tax consultation: Unlike the free consultation that comes with the free plan, this involves a more comprehensive evaluation of your business’ tax requirements and offers the best-possible tax savings.
  • Web domain + 5 business email addresses: If you plan to create a website for your business, you’ll need a domain name that matches your business name. With this plan, you’ll not only get that but also 5 different business addresses.

Price: Custom


Here are the additional services you’ll get over the Starter plan:

  • Customer success advisor: With Inc Authority’s highest-tier plan, you get a dedicated customer success manager who will help you with your LLC formation process. They’ll answer all your questions regarding the procedure and guide you throughout the process till your business is up and running.
  • Private banking specialist: As mentioned earlier, you’ll need a separate business bank account to ensure that your personal and business finances are separate. Inc Authority assigns a private banking specialist to all it’s priority clients who will help you find the best banking options and checking accounts for your LLC.
  • Personalized business advisory: This is probably the biggest benefit of choosing this plan by Inc Authority. You’ll get highly personalized, high-touch services, including personalized business advisory from experts in different fields who’ll help you quickly grow your business and take it to the next level.
  • Expedited preparation & filing: Another important benefit of going with the Fastrack plan is that you get expedited filing.This means that their team of experts will prioritize your application and review and submit it within the same day. Som if you need priority service, this is the plan you should choose.

This is the highest-tier plan offered by Inc Authority and the most expensive as it offers expedited filing and personalized services. It’s great for businesses that want premium service and are willing to pay extra for it.

Start with the Free LLC Formation Plan

Why Choose Inc Authority to Form an LLC in California

Inc Authority is a leading LLC formation services provider and for good reason—it gets the job done. Here are some of the key reasons why you should choose Inc Authority over any other service provider.

Free Service

100% Free Service

While some companies charge a lot of money to provide exactly the same services, Inc Authority does it completely free.

There are no service charges, processing fees, or any other hidden charges. You simply need to pay the state filing fee and nothing more.

Unmatched Expertise

When you choose to work with Inc Authority as your partner, you get access to tons of resources and a team of experts.

From tax specialists advising you on how to save taxes to experts who assess your business’s funding needs, you get tons of expert advice.

No Hassles

Why take on the hassle of dealing with complex LLC paperwork and long forms when Inc Authority will do it for you, for free?

Leave the hassle to the experts at Inc Authority while you free your time to focus on more important things, like growing your new business.

Form an LLC with Inc Authority


Here is the step-by-step process to start an LLC in California:

  • Select a Business Name: Choose a unique and relevant business name that complies with the naming requirements for LLCs in California.
  • Reserve a Business Name and Domain: Reserve your business name for 60 days by submitting an application and also find a matching domain name.
  • Appoint a California Registered Agent: Hire the services of a trusted California registered agent with a permanent address in the state.
  • Choose a Type of LLC: Choose between a domestic or foreign LLC and a member-managed or manager-managed LLC before you start your application.
  • Create an LLC Operating Agreement: Draft a detailed agreement that details how the business will be run and how critical business decisions will be made.
  • Register Your LLC: File your articles of organization with the Secretary of State to officially register your business.
  • Submit Your Statement of Information: Submit a Statement of Information within 90 days of registering your LLC in California.
  • Get an Employer Identification Number: Submit an application, along with all required documents, to get an EIN for your business.
  • Open a Business Bank Account: Open a separate bank account for your business to keep you personal and business finances separate.
  • Acquire Licenses and Permits: Find out the requirements for your type of business and locality and acquire all necessary licenses and permits.
  • Choose Your Tax Structure: Choose how you want your LLC to be taxed—Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, C-Corp, or S-Corp.
  • File for a DBA (Optional): Apply for a “Doing Business As” to get a fictitious name to run your business using a shorter and more memorable name.
  • Get a Trademark (Optional): If you want to further protect your business name, logo, or other brand elements, apply for a trademark.
  • Stay Compliant: File your taxes on time, submit the biennial reports, and follow all other regulations to stay in good standing with the government.

Though there are many requirements, here are some of the most important ones:

  • Submit a Statement of Information within 90 days of business formation. After that, submit it every 2 years by paying the state filing fees.
  • Pay $800 as annual tax to the California Franchise Tax Board and an LLC fee, which will depend on your business income in a particular year.
  • Pay federal income taxes on your business income as per the current rates.

To start an LLC in California, you’ll need 2 separate filings—one for the Articles of Organization and one for the Statement of Information. Other than that, the process is fairly similar to what you have in other states.

Here are some of the key benefits of an LLC:

  • Liability Protection: Members of an LLC in California are not personally liable to pay off business debts. This means that their personal assets will not be seized to cover business liabilities. 
  • Flexible Tax Structure: An LLC in California can choose to be taxed as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, S-Corp, or a C-Corp. This allows businesses to maximize tax savings by choosing more tax-friendly options.
  • Affordable: It is comparatively cheaper to form and run an LLC in California than it is to form and manage a C-Corp or an S-Corp. Managing an LLC is also cheaper, not to mention a lot easier, than running a Corporation.
  • Less Paperwork: Forming an LLC in California requires much less paperwork than forming a Corporation. Unlike Corporations, LLCs don’t need to hold meetings and record minutes. 
  • Ease of Management: Members can decide how they want to run the business as there are no fixed rules like that for a Corporation. All the rules of governance can be included in the LLC operating agreement.
  • Ownership Flexibility: There are fewer restrictions on who can own an LLC, unlike some other entities like S-Corps that have strict restrictions. For example, non-residents can’t be shareholders of an S-Corp but can be members of an LLC.
  • Ability to Hold Assets: Forming an LLC in California gives your business the right to hold assets that are separate from your personal assets. This protects your personal assets from being seized to pay off business debts.

Ability to Enter into Contracts: LLCs in California can enter into contracts, further protecting owners from personal liability. Also, given that LLCs are a credible legal entity, stakeholders prefer to enter into a contract with a business rather than an individual.

Yes, it is worth starting an LLC in California if you reside there and want to run a business there. LLCs, after all, provide the best features of Sole Proprietorships and Corporations.

You get the liability protection of a Corporation, with the flexibility and affordability of starting and running a business like a Sole Proprietor. LLCs are easier and more affordable to form and manage than the more complex structures like a Corporation.

However, if you want to achieve more tax savings, you can choose to be taxed as an S-Corp by applying for special tax status. This will enable you to avoid paying corporate taxes as well as self-employment taxes.

When you work with Inc Authority, you’ll get access to experts who can guide you on how you can get the maximum tax savings and benefits for your business, further reducing your costs. With the free plan, you get a free tax consultation, and with paid plans you can get more detailed tax advisory services.

If you start an LLC in California by yourself, it will practically cost you nothing as the state has waived the filing fee. However, the process requires complex paperwork and you can’t afford to make a mistake that may get your application rejected.

That’s why it’s better to outsource it to a professional firm like Inc Authority. Their team will take care of everything for you and get your business started, completely free of charge. 

This way, you get professional services and a seamless experience, without paying anything at all.