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

The cost to start an LLC (limited liability company) online in California is $0 until June 30, 2023. The standard $70 fee is paid to the California Secretary of State when filing the LLC’s Articles of Organization.

Use our free Form an LLC in California guide to do it yourself.

Or simply use a professional service:

How Much Does an LLC Cost in California?

California LLC Online Filing Fee: $0

It's currently $0 to file your LLC's Articles of Organization online with the California Secretary of State. Note that California has waived LLC formation fees from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. The standard filing fee is $70.

For a look at LLC costs in every state, read our other Cost to Start an LLC and How to Form an LLC guides.

California Statement of Information Fee: $20

California LLCs must file a biennial report with the Secretary of State. This is done by filing either a Statement of Information (Form LLC-12) or a Statement of Information No Change (Form LLC-12NC) with the Secretary of State. The fee is $20.

California Annual Tax: $800

All LLCs that do business in California must pay the annual $800 tax. Businesses whose first tax year was fewer than 15 days and did not conduct any business in California during that time are exempt from paying the first year of annual tax.

California LLC Fee: $900+

LLCs with annual revenue over $250,000 must pay a California LLC franchise tax of $900. The fee is higher for LLCs with more revenue.

You can file and pay your franchise tax online through the California Franchise Tax Board.

California Initial Report Fee: $20

California LLCs must file an initial report with the Secretary of State within 90 days of their registration date. This is done by filing a Statement of Information (Form LLC-12) with the Secretary of State. The fee is $20.

Registered Agent Fee

In California you can be your own registered agent (known in California as the Agent for Service of Process), but using a registered agent service helps keep your company in compliance and reminds you of important filing deadlines and avoid late fees.


Read our guide to learn more about California Registered Agents. You can also read our full guide on the best registered agent services.

Cost to Form a Foreign LLC in California

If you already have an LLC that is registered in another state and you’d like to expand your business into California, you’ll need to register your LLC as a foreign LLC in California.

The cost for registering a California foreign LLC is $70. You can register a foreign LLC in California by filing an Application to Register a Foreign Limited Liability Company (Form LLC-5).

Business Permits and Licenses

Depending on your industry and geographical location, your business might need federal, state, and local permits/licenses to legally operate in California. This is true whether you form an LLC or any other type of business structure.

Learn more about state and local licensing with our guide to getting a California business license.

Other LLC Filing Costs

There are optional fees associated with LLC formation:

LLC Name Reservation:
Reserve your name for up to 60 days prior to LLC formation by filing the Name Reservation Request Form and paying the $10 filing fee.

Doing Business As (DBA) Name:
Fees vary by county/city for this process.

Certified Document Copies:
Obtain certified copies of your California business documents by ordering through the Secretary of State and paying $6 for the first page + $0.50 for each additional page

Certificate of Status:
Also known as a California certificate of good standing, you can obtain this document by ordering through the Secretary of State and paying the $5 fee. A certificate of status is often required by banks and lending institutions.

How to Register a California LLC Yourself

Forming an LLC yourself is easy; just follow the five steps below.

Recommended: If you already have a business that is running as a sole proprietorship, visit our How to Change from a Sole Proprietorship to LLC page.

Five Basic Steps to Start an LLC in California

Step 1: Name Your California LLC
Step 2: Choose an Agent for Service of Process
Step 3: File the Articles of Organization
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Step 5: Get an EIN

Step 1: Name Your California LLC

When you name your California LLC, you’ll need to choose a name that:

  1. Is available for use in the state of California
  2. Meets California naming requirements
  3. Is available as a web domain

Recommended: Visit our Start an LLC in California guide for detailed naming rules and instructions for registering a business name in California.

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our How to Name a Business guide and free LLC Name Generator.

We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

Step 2: Choose an Agent for Service of Process

All LLCs in California must appoint an agent for service of process. An agent for service of process primarily acts as your LLC’s main point of contact with the state. But most importantly, they are responsible for accepting service of process in the event your business is sued.

Your California Agent for Service of Process must:

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Have a physical address in California
  • Be available during normal business hours to accept service of process

Recommended: Get a free year of registered agent services when you hire Northwest Registered Agent to form your LLC. $29 (plus state fees).

Get Started

Step 3: File the Articles of Organization

The California Form LLC-1 - Articles of Organization is a document that is filed with the California Secretary of State to form an LLC. The fee for filing the Articles of Organization is currently $0 until June 30, 2023.

For detailed instructions for completing the Articles of Organization, visit our How to File the California Articles of Organization guide.

File the California Articles of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online With the California Secretary of State

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File Form LLC-1 by Mail or In Person

Form LLC-1

State Filing Cost: $0 until June 30, 2023 ($70 thereafter)

Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings
P.O. Box 944228
Sacramento, CA 94244

Office Address:
1500 11th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

California LLCs are required to create and maintain an operating agreement.

What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.

Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.

For more information on operating agreements, read our California LLC operating agreement guide.

Step 5: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue System (IRS) to identify a business for tax reporting purposes. An EIN is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for your company.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:

Free EIN: You can get an EIN from the IRS website (free of charge) after forming your business.

California LLC Cost FAQ

Do you have to pay for a California LLC every year?

Yes, California LLCs must pay an annual franchise tax of at least $800. In addition, California LLCs are required to file a Statement of Information with a $20 fee.

Is an LLC really necessary?

An LLC provides limited liability protection. This means an LLC protects your personal assets in the event of a business loss, such as a lawsuit or unpaid debt.

We recommend any small business that carries even the smallest amount of risk or liability to form an LLC. Learn more in our Should I Start an LLC guide.

What is the cheapest way to get an LLC?

You can save money on getting an LLC by completing the formation process yourself, making your own operating agreement, being your own Agent for Service of Process, and getting your own EIN.

Check out our How to Save Money Forming Your LLC guide to learn more.

Can I pay myself a salary from my LLC?

You can pay yourself a salary from your LLC, but it would be called a draw or distribution if your LLC is taxed in the default way by the IRS.

Visit our How to Pay Yourself from an LLC guide to learn more.

Is an S corp better than an LLC?

An S corporation (S corp) is an IRS tax status, not a type of business entity. An LLC can be taxed in the default way or as an S corp. For some businesses, being taxed as an S corp can make lots of sense.

Check out our LLC vs. S corp guide to find out if S corp status is right for your business.

What’s better: sole proprietorship or LLC?

A sole proprietorship is only good for businesses that carry very low risk of liability because sole proprietorships don’t offer any liability protection.

Learn more in our sole proprietorship vs. LLC guide.

Article Sources

California Franchise Tax Board:

IRS - Employer ID Numbers:

California Secretary of State - Business Programs:

SBA - Apply for Licenses and Permits:

Chamber of Commerce - California Chamber of Commerce List: