Individuals looking to establish a business in California have the ability to form the following entities according to the office of the Secretary of State; corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and partnerships (LP, GP, LLP, SP). In order to successfully form one of the aforementioned entities individuals must submit the appropriate filing fees and forms to the office of the Secretary of State. Explore the links found throughout this page to review our more in-depth tutorials on the application procedure.
Start an Entity
Search for a Name
The first critical decision prospective business owners will be required to make when forming a new business or registering a pre-existing entity from out-of-state, is to decide by which name the entity will be known. In order to guarantee that the desired name is legally unique it is of the utmost importance that you search the California business database.
How to Register in California
Step 1- The first and arguably most important move you will have to make in registering a business in California or elsewhere is to choose by which name the entity is to operate under. California has a business search function that you can use for a quick reference as well as long form name-inquiry and name-reservation processes. Find out more about these state procedures at our business search and name reservation pages.
Step 2- You must now provide your filing information into the PDF application that is associated with your business type. We have provided further instructions within the tutorials linked below.
- Domestic General Stock Corporation
- Domestic Professional Corporation
- Domestic Close Corporation
- Domestic Non-Profit Religious Corporation
- Domestic Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation
- Domestic Non-Profit Mutual Benefit Corporation
- Domestic Common Interest Development Association
- Foreign General Corporation
- Foreign Non-Profit Corporation
- Foreign Professional Corporation
- Foreign Insurer Corporation
- Domestic Limited Partnership
- Domestic General Partnership
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership
- Foreign Limited Partnership
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
- Foreign General Partnership
- Sole Proprietorship
Step 3- After completing whichever forms your entity requires for recognition, you will need to submit them to the office of the Secretary of State either by mail or in person (forms submitted in person carry with them a special handling fee which differs from form to form). Each form has its own associated fees (divulged below) and submission address. Applications sent by mail must be attached to a check made payable to the Secretary of State and sent to the address below.
Secretary of State Business Entities
P.O. Box 944260
Sacramento, CA 94244-2600
- Domestic General Corporation- $100
- Domestic Professional Corporation- $100
- Domestic Close Corporation- $100
- Domestic Nonprofit Religious Corporation- $30
- Domestic Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation- $30
- Domestic Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporation- $30
- Domestic Common Interest Development Association- $30
- Foreign General Corporation- $100
- Foreign Nonprofit Corporation- $30
- Foreign Professional Corporation- $100
- Foreign Insurer Corporation- $100
Limited Liability Company
- Domestic Limited Liability Company- $70
- Foreign Limited Liability Company- $70
- Domestic General Partnership- $70
- Domestic Limited Partnership- $70
- Domestic Limited Liability Partnership- $70
- Foreign General Partnership- $25
- Foreign Limited Partnership- $70
- Foreign Limited Liability Partnership- $70
- Sole Proprietorship- (fees vary)
In order to secure the rights to a given business name in California the incorporator may reserve the entity name with the office of the Secretary of State. To do so one must download the PDF application and submit it via mail ($10 fee) or in person ($20 fee) to the office of the Secretary of State in Sacramento.
To check the availability of a name officially you must submit a Name Availability Inquiry letter to the office of the Secretary of State. Otherwise you can use the business directory for a simple check.
Certificate of Status
The Certificate of Status can be obtained by downloading the Business Records Entities – Order Form (available here), completing it, and submitting it along with all due fees (by mail: $4, in person: $4 + $10 special handling fee) to the office of the Secretary of State of California in Sacramento.
Each of the entities above have corresponding documents that, though not necessarily required under California state law, are none-the-less integral to the continuing prosperity of any business, they being:
The general idea of each of these documents is to delineate in writing the interests (in percentage) of each partner/member of an entity, the general rules and regulations the entity is to follow, and any and all other items members want put forth as legally binding and irrevocable. Please select whichever of the links above corresponds to your entity to access a drafting tutorial for the document in question. We provide free templates for each document in both MS Word and Adobe formats.
Employer Identification Number
Once every other aspect of incorporation has been covered you may need to finalize the legality of your entity by applying for an EIN with the IRS via Online Application or through a PDF Application (SS-4). Once obtained it will enable your entity to perform advanced financial maneuvers as well as simple, routine actions such as applying for business credit cards or loans. For more information on the either of the aforementioned application procedures click here.