A Guide For Starting an LLC in California

Mantis Funding November 16, 2023

Starting a business is an exciting new beginning, and one of the first critical decisions you’ll make is selecting a business structure that’s right for you. 

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a popular choice for their blend of corporate protections and sole proprietorship simplicity. In California, forming an LLC offers several benefits, such as personal liability protection, flexible taxation options, and operational ease.

Here, we’ll guide you through the process of starting an LLC in the Golden State. We’ll walk you through all the essential steps—from name selection to filing the appropriate forms and everything in between. 

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or taking your first steps into the business world, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the information you need to get your LLC up and running in California.

Learn how to start a construction business, open a restaurant, auto repair shop, and more with revenue-based financing from Mantis Funding. With Mantis Funding, you can get the funding you need to start or grow your business without giving up any equity or control.

Contact us for more information or apply now to get started!

How To Start an LLC in California

Starting an LLC in California involves several key steps, each with its own set of considerations and requirements. See our comprehensive walkthrough below to help you navigate this process:

  1. Choose a Unique Business Name: Research a name that not only resonates with your business but also complies with California’s LLC naming rules. Confirm its availability through the California Secretary of State’s website and consider registering a domain name to match.
  2. Appoint a Registered Agent: Designate a registered agent who is a California resident or a corporation authorized to do business in California. This agent is vital as they will receive and manage all legal documents, such as lawsuits or state filings, for your LLC.
  3. File Articles of Organization: Fill out and submit this form to the California Secretary of State. It’s a critical step that formally establishes your LLC and requires a filing fee. Make sure all information is accurate to avoid potential legal complications.
  4. Create an Operating Agreement: Though not a legal requirement in California, an operating agreement is strongly recommended. It sets out the LLC’s management structure, financial arrangements, and other foundational aspects, thus preventing future disputes among members.
  5. Obtain an EIN from the IRS: Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which is essential for tax purposes, banking, and hiring employees. The application is free and can usually be completed online or by mail.
  6. Register for State Taxes: Visit the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to register your LLC. You’ll need to understand which taxes your business is liable for, such as sales tax, income tax, and any other industry-specific state taxes.
  7. Comply with Local Permits and Regulations: Investigate the local laws in your area and obtain necessary zoning permits or business licenses. Ignoring or overlooking these can lead to fines or other legal repercussions.
  8. File Statement of Information: Within 90 days of forming your LLC, and every two years thereafter, you’ll need to file a Statement of Information with the state. This keeps your company’s management and location details up to date in the state’s records.
  9. Pay the Necessary Fees: Initial filing fees are just the beginning. Be prepared for annual franchise taxes and possible renewal fees for licenses and permits. Some of these may vary depending on your business’s revenue or capital.
  10. Obtain Business Licenses (if required): Some industries, like food service or healthcare, have special licensing requirements. Make sure to research thoroughly and secure any necessary licenses or permits to operate your LLC legally in California.

California LLC Filing Fees

Starting an LLC in California involves various fees at different stages of the formation and operation process. Understanding these costs upfront can help you budget accurately and avoid unexpected financial surprises.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Formation – Articles of Organization: The initial step to legally form your LLC is by filing the Articles of Organization with the California Secretary of State. This comes with a one-time filing fee of $70.
  2. Statement of Information: After establishing your LLC, you’re required to file a Statement of Information within 90 days and every two years thereafter. Each filing incurs a fee of $20.
  3. Statement of No Change: In cases where there are no changes to report in your biennial Statement of Information, you can file a Statement of No Change for the same fee of $20.
  4. Termination: If you decide to dissolve your LLC, the good news is that there is no fee for filing the termination paperwork with the state. However, make sure to resolve all tax obligations and other liabilities before doing so.
  5. Conversion from Stock Corporation to Limited Liability Company: If you’re transitioning your existing stock corporation to an LLC, you’ll be subject to a conversion fee of $150.

Knowing the specific fees associated with starting and maintaining an LLC in California can help you make informed decisions and ensure that you comply with all legal and financial requirements.

Keep in mind that these fees are subject to change, so it’s wise to check the California Secretary of State’s website or consult with a legal advisor for the most current information.

Worried about the initial costs of forming and maintaining your LLC in California? Mantis Funding offers revenue-based financing to help cover these essential fees, ensuring your business can start on a solid financial footing. Apply now and secure the funding you need for a smooth LLC formation process. 

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How Much Does It Cost to Start an LLC in California?

Starting an LLC in California comes with a variety of costs that go beyond the initial filing fees. You’ll need to pay a $70 filing fee for the Articles of Organization and a $20 fee for the initial Statement of Information. 

Additionally, every LLC registered to do business in the state of California must pay an $800 annual fee called the Franchise Tax Board Fee or Franchise Tax. This is a recurring cost that you should factor into your long-term budget.

Optional services like professional registered agents, legal counsel for drafting operating agreements, and any special permits or licenses can also add to the startup costs. 

Plus, different industries and localities may require specific business licenses or permits, which come with their own fees, making it crucial to compile all these various expenses to understand the financial commitment on your part.

How Long Does It Take to Form an LLC in California?

The timeline for forming an LLC in California can vary based on several factors, including the processing times at the Secretary of State’s office and the complexity of your business structure. 

After submitting your Articles of Organization, it can take between 5 to 15 business days for the state to process and approve the documentation; however, you can expedite this process for an additional fee. 

You must file the Statement of Information within 90 days of forming your LLC and subsequently every two years. The processing time for this step is usually quicker, ranging from 5 to 10 business days.

Beyond these state-required steps, the time it takes to secure any necessary local permits or licenses can also vary widely depending on the locality and the type of business. 

If you choose to use professional services for any of these steps, their availability and workload can also influence your timeline.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve just completed the process of starting an LLC in California! By now, you should have a clear understanding of the various steps and fees involved, from choosing a unique business name to filing the necessary paperwork and maintaining compliance with state laws.

However, your work is far from over, and there’s still plenty to do moving forward. Running an LLC is a continuous journey that requires meticulous planning, but the effort is well worth the long-term benefits. 

Registering for state taxes, obtaining any necessary business licenses and permits, opening a business bank account, and staying updated with compliance requirements are all critical tasks for your LLC’s success. 

If you’re looking for funding solutions tailored to your growing business, consider reaching out to Mantis Funding. We specialize in personalized funding options that can provide the working capital you need to expand your newly-formed LLC. Apply for funding today and let us help you on your exciting business journey!

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About Mantis Funding

Mantis Funding is a business financing solutions firm catering to small and mid-sized business owners in the United States.

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