Start a Business in California

Incorporation Service

Your specialist works with you 1-on-1 to form your LLC, corporation, or other business structure. We prepare and file most formations in just one business day!

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This guide on starting your business in California provides step-by-step instructions on the paperwork to file formation documents, obtain tax IDs, and set up company records.

how to start a business

Step-By-Step Startup

Below is an overview of the paperwork, cost, and time to form each of the most popular business structures. Simply click on the link for your desired structure to view detailed step-by-step instructions.

  • If you have not decided whether you want to form an LLC, corporation, or other business structure, click here.
  • If wish to form your business in a different state than California, click here.
Structure Paperwork Cost Time

California Limited Liability Company

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  • Form LLC-1: Articles of Organization of a Limited Liability Company
  • Form LLC-12: Statement of Information for a Limited Liability Company
  • Operating Agreement
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Formation: $70 by mail or $85 in-person + optional $250-$500 preclearance service + optional $350-$500 expedited filing service
  • Initial report: $20 + optional $250-$500 preclearance service + optional $350-$500 expedited filing service

California Corporation

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  • Form ARTS-GS: Articles of Incorporation - General Stock
  • SI-200: Statement of Information for Domestic Business Corporations (Initial report)
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Incorporation: $100 by mail or $115 in-person + optional $250-$500 preclearance service + optional $350-$500 expedited filing service
  • Initial report: $25

California Nonprofit

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  • Articles of Incorporation, either:
    • Form ARTS-MU - Mutual Benefit Corp
    • Form ARTS-PB - Public Benefit Corp
    • Form ARTS-RE - Religious Corp
    • Form ARTS-CID - CID Corp
  • Form SI-100: Statement of Information
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • IRS Form 1023: 501(c) Tax Exempt Application
  • IRS Determination Letter
  • Form FTB-3500: Exemption Application or Form FTB-3500a: Submission of Exemption Request
  • URS Charitable Registration, if applicable
  • Incorporation: $30 by mail or $45 in-person + optional $250-$500 preclearance service + optional $350-$500 expedited filing service
  • Statement of information: $20
  • 501(c): $275 or $600 IRS fee
  • California FTB exemption: $25 ($0 for exemption request)
  • California charitable registration: $25

Top 5 Tips on Registering a Business in California

  1. Oh, California... I wish I could start with better news. Filing with the California Secretary of State is notoriously slow and there are steep expedite fees. We'll explain how to check the current processing times and your options for expediting your formation.
  2. Oh, California... ouch, again. Most California businesses have to pay a minimum $800 yearly tax to the California Franchise Tax Board.
  3. For both an LLC and corporation, you must file an Initial Report within 90 days of formation.
  4. California offers a smorgasbord of corporate structures. Make sure you've identified the specific type of corporation you want before you file ANY documents.
  5. Some states offer consolidated business registration, but California isn't one of them. Be prepared to navigate across several government agencies. (Don't worry, we'll help.) You'll be working with the California Secretary of State, State of California Franchise Tax Board, State of California Employment Development Department, and California State Board of Equalization.

Incorporation Service

Your specialist works with you 1-on-1 to form your LLC, corporation, or other business structure. We prepare and file most formations in just one business day!

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