Filing the California Articles of Organization is Easy!
Step 1: Get Your Articles of Organization Forms
You can download and mail in your California LLC1 Form Articles of Organization, OR you can file online. For this first step, choose your preferred method below.
Option 1: Access the Articles of Organization online by selecting the "Start" button on the landing page. You must also accept the terms and conditions.
- OR -
Option 2: Access the Articles of Organization PDF from the California Secretary of State. This form will need to be mailed to the Secretary of State's Office or submitted in-person.
Step 2: Fill Out the Articles of Organization
In this step, we will help you complete the California Articles of Organization form.
You will need to know the following information to complete each section:
- Entity Name and Address
- Name and Address of Agent for Service of Process
- Governing Authority Type
Entity Name and Address
Having a creative and smart business name is important but not as important as having a legally correct name.
When you choose a name for your business, you have to make sure the name:
- meets California naming guidelines.
- is not already in use by another business in California.
Follow the California Naming Guidelines:
- Your name must include the phrase "limited liability company" or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
- The name cannot include the following words: bank, trust, trustee, incorporated, inc., corporation, or corp.
- The name cannot include the words "insurer" or "insurance company" or any words suggesting that it is in the business of issuing policies of insurance and assuming insurance risks.
- The name must be distinguishable from any other LLC registered with the Secretary of State.
Check Name Availability:
Is your name available in California? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a name search on the California Secretary of State website.
To learn more about naming your business, including best practices and creative branding, visit our How to Name a Business in California guide.
Not sure what to name your business? Check out our Business Name Generator.
Register Your Domain Name:
We recommend checking to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL to prevent others from acquiring it.
Agent for Service of Process
An agent for service of process, known as a registered agent in other states, accepts and sends legal documents on your LLC's behalf. When you register your California LLC, you are required to list your agent's name and their registered office.
Your agent for service of process can be anyone 18 years or older that lives in California. Your agent must always be available at the registered office during regular business hours. Your agent for service of process address cannot be a P.O. box.
To learn more about choosing a California agent for service of process, read our How to Choose a California Registered Agent guide.
To learn more about what a registered agent does and how to choose one, read our What is a Registered Agent guide.
You must state if your LLC will be managed by a manager, more than one manager, or all of the members.
To learn more about choosing your management structure, read our Management by Members or Managers guide.
Step 3: File the Articles of Organization
To register your LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.
There are two ways to file your Articles of Organization:
- Complete the forms online.
- Submit a hard copy by mail or in-person.
Option 1: File online by selecting the "Start" button on the landing page. Read and accept the terms and conditions, then fill out the required fields and submit.
- OR -
Option 2: Mail the Articles of Organization PDF to the California Secretary of State or submit it in-person.
State Filing Cost: $70 (plus an additional $15 if filed in-person)
Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings
P.O. Box 944228
Sacramento, CA 94244
1500 11th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Turnaround Time: California typically processes online filings within a few days and in person or mail filings within a week or so. You can expedite processing for an additional fee.
Create an Operating Agreement
A California LLC Operating Agreement is a legal document that outlines the ownership structure and member roles of your LLC.
In California, you aren't required to have an Operating Agreement to officially form an LLC, but it's still a good idea to have one. You can start your operating agreement before, during, or after you file your Articles of Organization.
Your operating agreement will be kept in your LLC's private business records; you do not file it with the state.
Use our free Operating Agreement Tool to draft a customized operating agreement for your LLC.
Get an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a social security number for your LLC. You will need an EIN if you want to hire employees or open business bank accounts.
You can get your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our What is an EIN article.
Open a Business Bank Account
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential to protect your business' corporate veil. When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued.
For reviews on some of our most trusted business banks, visit our Best Banks for Small Business review.
Get Licenses and Permits
When you are registering an LLC, you need to determine if your business needs any licenses or permits in order to remain compliant. On the federal level, there are a handful of business activities that require licenses and/or permits.
Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business or have a professional service do it for you:
- Federal: Use the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guide to federal business licenses and permits.
- State: Apply for or learn more about licenses, permits, and registration on California's Starting a Business website.
- Local: Contact your local county clerk and ask about local licenses and permits.
Brand Your Business
The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand. When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high-quality products and services.
Creating a logo for your business is vital for increasing brand awareness. You can design your own unique logo using our Free Logo Generator. Our free tool can help you design your own unique logo for your new business idea.