There’s lots to know about California corporation registration; each state has it’s own guidelines and policies regarding how to go about registering your company to do business in that state. If you are planning to do business in the Golden State, there are things you will want to consider and necessary steps to take, to ensure you and your company are fully in compliance with the expectations of the state.

First Things First

While there may be a few steps you will need to take, the initial ones are both the most fun and possibly the most stress-inducing. The initial steps you will need to take to register your corporation in California, include:

  1. Choose your corporate name. Obviously, this can be a great deal of fun, brainstorming with friends, family and possibly business partners to come up with the dream name for your dream business. However, while coming up with a great name can be a great creative endeavor, as you are doing so, you will want to make sure that there is not already another corporation in California doing business with that same name, or even with too similar a name.
  2. Draft and file your company’s Articles of Incorporation. This may sound like a daunting process, but it doesn’t have to be. Many states provide standard forms that can be accessed online or by contacting the Secretary of State of that locality, in which you can simply plug in the pertinent information. If you are uncertain as to how to best create your company’s articles of incorporation, you can always utilize the services of an attorney who specializes in business.
  3. Designate a registered agent for your corporation. This is definitely a step that you will not want to skip in registering your corporation, as it is a requirement in California. You will want to ensure that whomever is to serve as the company’s registered agent is someone who lives in California and can be trusted to make certain decisions on behalf of the business, as the registered agent is responsible for the acceptance of legal documents, should legal issues arise.
  4. Create a corporate record book. This will serve as the location of important documents, such as board meeting minutes, stock certificates and other vital information which you may have to provide to California’s Secretary of State, from time to time, as you are doing business.
  5. Draft your corporate by-laws. Much like the articles of incorporation, this may sound like a much scarier process than it actually needs to be, especially as there are any number of places online where you can find templates that your company can adapt to the specifics of your business. Unlike the articles of incorporation which can be public documents, your corporate bylaws are largely an internal document that is used to lay the groundwork for the operations of your company. Additionally, having corporate bylaws drawn up gives legitimacy to potential investors and business partners.
  6. Establish your corporate directors, sometimes also referred to as a board of directors or board of managers. Whomever signed the final copy of the articles of incorporation that was submitted to California’s Secretary of State, will be the person responsible for appointing the corporate directors, establishing their respective roles and scheduling the first meetings, etc. Once that has all been put in place, the directors may elect or appoint someone else to ultimately serve as the chair or President.
  7. Conduct your company’s first meeting of the newly appointed board of directors. Ideally, this meeting should result in the approval of the corporate bylaws, the fiscal year on which the company will operate, the selection of the bank or financial institution that will house the company’s money, and other financial necessities, such as the authorization of stocks and the creation of an approved stock certificate.
  8. File your statement of information. This is another strict requirement for any business in California, so again, you will want to ensure you don’t forget this step. This will need to be completed within 90 days of filing your corporation’s articles of incorporation, and will additionally need to be filed every year thereafter, that you are doing business in California.

How Much Does All of This Cost?

Starting your own business can certainly be a costly endeavor, and there are some fees associated with registering your corporation in California, so you will want to factor those into your budgeting process:

  1. $100 to file your articles of incorporation
  2. $25 to file your statement of information

If you need help with corporate registration in California, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.