1. Articles of Organization
2. Your LLC's Registered Agent

California LLC forms are formation documents that you'll have to complete and file before legally doing business in the state as a limited liability company. Once you file all the necessary forms and they are approved, your business will be registered in California. 

Articles of Organization

Limited liability companies (LLCs) in California are a simple and affordable business structure to form. California has specific requirements to form an LLC, which is considered a cross between a partnership and corporation. One of the advantages of forming an LLC is the protection of personal assets in case the business is sued.

To form an LLC, you'll file LLC formation documents with the Secretary of State. In California, the formation document is the Articles of Organization.

This document must include the following information: 

  • Name and address of the LLC
  • The purpose of the LLC
  • Details on how you'll manage the LLC
  • Name and address of the LLC's registered agent

After completing your Articles of Organization, submit them along with the required filing fee to the state. You don't need original signatures on your Articles of Organization. It's up to you whether you file the original document or a copy. You should keep a copy for your records.

After you submit your Articles and fee, the state will review your application. If there are any issues, the state will contact you with instructions on what to correct. When you receive your stamped and approved Articles of Organization, you'll then have a legally formed business in the state. Until you get this approval, don't order an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or use your LLC for any business purposes.

To keep your business in compliance, you'll have ongoing requirements and fees to submit to the state. If you don't file paperwork or pay fees in a timely manner, the state can charge you late fees. It also can dissolve your LLC.

Your LLC's Registered Agent

In your formation documents, you're required to list the person or entity acting as your LLC's registered agent and the location of the registered agent's office. The agent's office must be a physical street address, not a P.O. Box, and it must be an address in California.

A registered agent, also known as a resident agent in some states, is a person or company that accepts legal mail and other important documents for your company. The registered agent is expected to be at the listed office location during the course of a regular business day. Being available between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. is important in the event of a Service of Process.

As long as a person or entity maintains an address in the state where your business is formed, he or it is able to act as your registered agent. A company's owner can be its registered agent, but the business itself cannot fill this role. It's common for individuals who maintain an address in the state to act as their own registered agent. 

Your registered agent doesn't have to be a member of your LLC. If you prefer, you can appoint a family member, friend, or other party who agrees to accept Service of Process on your LLC's behalf. 

Service of Process is the delivery of legal paperwork, legal mail, and other important documents from the state or a law firm to your business. Below are some typical items the state may send:

  • Annual report notices
  • Copies of documents
  • Late notices

Legal documents may include subpoenas or complaints for legal action.

While some states require that a registered agent signs your formation documents, this isn't a requirement in California. All you have to do is list the resident agent's name and address in the documents. A registered agent acts as a point of contact between your LLC and the state. 

California's requirements for LLC forms are unique to this state. Visit the California Secretary of State business programs website for additional information on all the forms you'll need to submit. By being organized and submitting paperwork and fees in a timely manner, you'll be able to do business in the state as soon as legally possible.

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