Last Updated: May 9, 2024, 11:02 am by TRUiC Team

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

The cost to start an LLC (limited liability company) online in California is $70. This fee is paid to the California Secretary of State when filing the LLC’s Articles of Organization.

This California LLC Fees guide will walk you through all costs, besides the California LLC fee for limited liability companies.

We recommend Northwest ($29 + State Fees) to help form your LLC.

How Much Does an LLC Cost in California?

California LLC Online Filing Fee: $70

It's currently $70 to file your LLC's Articles of Organization online with the California Secretary of State.

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. 

First-Year Annual Tax: Businesses whose first tax year was fewer than 15 days and did not conduct any business (generate net income) in California during that time are exempt from paying the first year of annual tax.

Also per California's revenue and taxation code any LLC registered before January 1, 2024, are also exempt from the first year annual tax.

California LLC Fee: Varies

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.

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).

Optional LLC Formation 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.

Fictitious Business Name

Fees vary by county/city for this process.

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Ready to Start Your California LLC?

Read our LLC formation services review to choose the best service for you.

How to Register a California LLC Yourself

Forming an LLC in California is easy. Simply follow the steps outlined on this page.

Recommended: Using an LLC formation service like Northwest ($29 + State Fees) saves time and ensures compliance. Besides the low cost, we like their streamlined approach and excellent customer service.

California LLC Cost FAQ

The initial filing fee for forming an LLC in California is $70 if you file online or $85 if you file by mail. This fee covers the cost of submitting the Articles of Organization to the California Secretary of State. Besides the filing fee, California LLCs are also required to pay a minimum annual franchise tax of $800.

Yes, there can be additional costs. You may need to pay a registered agent fee, which is typically around $100 per year. If you wish to reserve your business name before filing the Articles of Organization, you'll have to pay a $20 name reservation fee.

A registered agent, known in California as an agent for service of process, is a person or business entity that is designated to receive official papers and legal notices on behalf of your LLC. The California Secretary of State mandates that all LLCs have an agent for service of process in the state. This service typically costs up to $200 per year.

Reserving a business name means that you secure the name for your LLC before actually filing your Articles of Organization. This ensures no one else can take your desired business name while you're preparing your LLC formation documents. The name reservation fee in California is $20.

An operating agreement is a document that outlines the rules and procedures of your LLC. It's not required by law in California, but having one is a good practice. It can help prevent misunderstandings by specifying member roles and responsibilities, profit sharing, and procedures for handling changes in membership.

Forming an LLC in California offers limited liability protection, meaning your personal assets are shielded from creditors if your LLC faces a lawsuit. Profits and losses from your LLC are reported on your personal tax return, avoiding double taxation. Lastly, the process of forming an LLC is relatively simple and can be done online or by mail.

The annual franchise tax is a mandatory fee for LLCs in California. The minimum amount is $800 per year, which is due even if the LLC does not conduct business or operates at a loss. This tax is separate from any income taxes your LLC may owe.

LLC formation services are companies that assist you in setting up your LLC. They handle the paperwork and submission of your Articles of Organization, can offer registered agent services, and often help with drafting operating agreements. The cost for these services can vary depending on the level of service you choose.

To minimize costs, you could handle all the filing and paperwork yourself. However, this can be time-consuming and confusing if you're not familiar with the process. Using an LLC formation service can save you time and potentially avoid errors, but it will add to the overall cost.

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: