1. Start an LLC in California
2. Choose a Registered Agent
3. File Articles of Organization With the State 

Start an LLC in California

California LLC articles of organization are required when forming a new LLC. Before starting a business in the state, the first step is doing some research to make sure clients can easily search for the name you want to use and that it is suited to your planned business venture. The first step is choosing your LLC name. California business laws require that all LLC names end with limited liability company or one of the accepted abbreviations, such as L.L.C. or LLC. Further abbreviation of limited to Ltd. and/or company to co. is also allowed.

An LLC name cannot include the words:

  • Corporation
  • Bank
  • Insurer
  • Trust
  • Corporation or corp.
  • Incorporated or inc.
  • Trustee

It also can't include words that suggest the company operates in the insurance industry.

An LLC business name cannot be:

  • Misleading
  • Too similar or identical to an existing business name in the California records

Before you submit a registration form for your business, check the availability on the business name database, found on the secretary of state's website. Names can be checked for availability by searching the California secretary of state's business name database. When you use this database, all business names will be checked against existing LLCs that have registered with the secretary of state's office. 

If the name you want is available, you can fill out a name reservation request form and reserve it for up to 60 days. Upon completing the form, you can hand-deliver or mail it to the secretary of state's office in Sacramento. Along with the form, you must submit a $10 name reservation fee. You can review additional information related to the availability of a business name provided by the California secretary of state. This important information is available on the website. 

Choose a Registered Agent

Another required step in forming an LLC in California is nominating an agent for the service of process. In an LLC, an agent for the service of process is also referred to as the registered agent. A registered agent or agent for the service of process is either a business or an individual that is willing to receive and send legal documents on behalf of the LLC. These documents might include state filings and service of process of legal action, such as if the business is sued. 

The LLC cannot serve as its own registered agent. Your business may only designate one registered agent. If you choose a person for your registered agent, they must live in California. The street address of the registered agent will be included in the articles of organization, and it cannot be a P.O. Box. Although your LLC cannot serve as its own registered agent, you can choose an agent with an affiliation to the LLC.

File Articles of Organization With the State 

When you're ready to register the LLC with the state, you need to file your articles of organization, either in person or by mail. You must decide whether the LLC will be manager-managed or member-managed, as this should be included in the articles of organization. Another step in forming and registering an LLC is filling out Form LLC-1 and filing it with the secretary of state's office. Review the instructions before you complete the form. 

Section 1: Name of the LLC

Several requirements exist under California business laws when it comes to acceptable business names for LLCs. One of these requirements is including limited liability company or one of its accepted abbreviations within the business name. You can see a list of accepted abbreviations on Form LLC-1. Additional rules state that a business name cannot be misleading, nor can it be very similar to an existing business entity. Before you file, make sure to check the California business name database to determine whether your desired name is available.

Section 2: Purpose 

The second section of the form states that your LLC will not engage in illegal business activities and exists to do business that is legal. 

Section 3: LLC Addresses 

When filling out section three, include the LLC business address on line A. The business address must be located in the state of California. A separate mailing address, like a P.O. Box, can be entered on line B.

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