How to Start a Business in California (Step by Step Guide)

California Business formationLooking to start your own business in California?  If so, then you have come to the right place!

We have provided step by step instructions on how to incorporate your business in California (CA). From selecting the business entity type to forms to be filled, we have covered it all.

Let’s get Started

The first step in setting up your business is to select the business structure.

Broadly there are 4 types of business entities:

  1. Limited Liability Company (LLC) (Most Popular)
  2. Corporation
  3. Sole Proprietorship
  4. Partnership

Each business structure differs on the basis of taxation, asset liability and estate planning. We have written a detailed tutorial on how to choose a business entity type for your business here.

Below we have given a broad outline of the steps involved in registering an LLC or Corporation in California.

Clicking on each step, opens up a detailed guide on how to complete it.

How to start an LLC in California

Agency NameCalifornia Secretary of State – Business Programs Division
Form(s) to be filledArticles of Organization (Form LLC-1)
ModeMail or online
Name ReservationOptional, Fee $10 (Online)
Filing Fee Filing: By mail $70/In-person drop $85
Initial Report: $20
Time1-2 weeks (Option to expedite is available)
LawCorporations Code TITLE 2.5 – LLC [17000 – 17656]


Summary:

  1. Check for availability of the business name
  2. File for Business name reservation
  3. Select Registered Agent
  4. Fill Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1)
  5. Create an Operating Agreement
  6. Get an EIN Number
  7. Complete LLC Statement of Information (Form LLC-12)
  8. Apply for California State Tax Identification Number
  9. (Ongoing) Pay franchise tax and file annual report



How to start a Corporation in California

Agency NameCalifornia Secretary of State – Business Programs Division
Form(s) to be filledArticles of Incorporation (Form ARTS-GS)
ModeMail or online
Name ReservationOptional, Fee $10 (Online)
Filing Fee Filing: By mail $100/In-person drop $115
Initial Report: $25
Time1-2 weeks (Option to expedite is available)
LawCalifornia Corporations Code – CORP


Summary:

  1. Check Business Name Availability
  2. File for Business Name Reservation
  3. Select Registered Agent
  4. Fill Articles of Incorporation (Form ARTS-GS)
  5. Draft Bylaws
  6. Get an EIN Number
  7. Complete Statement of Information for Business Corporations (Form SI-200)
  8. Apply for California State Tax Identification Number
  9. (Ongoing) Pay franchise tax and file annual report


References:
https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/corporations-code/

Fact-checked on 24/07/2018