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Launch Your California LLC: A 2024 Step-by-Step Guide


Table of Contents

Starting an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in California can be an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to realize their business ideas. An LLC offers the liability protection of a corporation and the flexibility and tax advantages of a partnership, making it an attractive option for many business owners. However, if you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of starting an LLC in the Golden State, don’t worry! 

This guide will guide you through each step of the process in simple. So, let’s learn how to start your California LLC.

Step 1: Choose a Name for Your LLC

Your LLC’s name is not just a label; it’s the first impression your business will make on potential customers. In California, your LLC name must be unique and include “limited liability company” or “LLC.” You can use the California Secretary of State website search tool to ensure your chosen name is available or do a quick, free name check online to see if your name is available. If you consider getting a website name that matches your business name, you can find good deals for website domain names on Namecheap. This step ensures your business name doesn’t conflict with existing entities and meets California’s naming requirements.

Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent

A registered agent is essential for any LLC in California. This person or business entity agrees to accept legal documents for your LLC. The registered office is the official business address of your LLC. It can be your home, your office, or even the address of the Resident Agent. It could be yourself or a friend, or you can hire a professional service. Alternatively, you can use a legal service specializing in this area, services to Complete the Formation Process. You can bypass the steps using a third-party service such as Bizee or Northwest Registered Agent


Check out our blog: ‘Is a Registered Agent Necessary? Your Guide to Finding an Affordable Option

Step 3: File Articles of Organization in California

It’s time to make it official in California! The crucial step in forming your LLC is filing the Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1) with the California Secretary of State. This document is vital as it legally establishes your LLC in California.

What to Include in Your Articles of Organization:

  • LLC Name: Ensure you include the full legal name of your LLC, followed by “LLC” or “Limited Liability Company.”
  • Mailing Address: If your business receives mail at a location different from its physical address, list that here.
  • Registered Agent: Designate a registered agent who will handle official documents for your LLC. Include their full name, address, and contact information. They must formally agree to act as your registered agent.
  • Management Structure: Indicate whether your LLC will be member-managed (by you and any other owners) or manager-managed. List the names and addresses of the members or managers. For privacy, you may use a P.O. box for addresses.
  • Purpose: Provide a brief description of your business.
  • LLC Organizer: Identify the person or entity completing and filing your work. This role is crucial for correctly setting up your LLC.
  • Formation Date: Specify the date your LLC will officially begin. You can set this to the filing date or choose a date up to 90 days.
  • Signing: Ensure all information is accurate before signing. The form must be signed by either an LLC member, manager, or organizer.

How Much It Costs:

The filing fee for the Articles of Organization in California is $70. Remember, while this is the primary fee for starting your LLC, other costs may be associated with setting up and maintaining your LLC in California.

How to Send Your Form:

  • Online: For the quickest processing, you can file the Articles of Organization online through the California Secretary of State’s website. This method speeds up the filing process and allows easy tracking of your submission status.
  • By Mail: If you prefer to file your Articles of Organization by mail, complete Form LLC-1 and send it, along with the filing fee, to the following address: Secretary of State, Business Entities Filings Unit, P.O. Box 944228, Sacramento, CA 94244-2280. This option might take longer to process than online filing.
  • In-Person: For those who need to or prefer to file in person, you can bring your completed Form LLC-1 and payment to the Secretary of State’s office at 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA. Filing in person is a good option if you’re nearby and need to ensure your documents are immediately in the hands of the state officials.

Remember to check the California Secretary of State’s website for the most current information and any updates to the filing process or fees.

Step 4: Making an Operating Agreement for Your Business

Let’s discuss setting up some ground rules for your business. This is where an Operating Agreement comes in. Think of it as a handbook that explains how your business runs. It’s important because it helps everyone understand their role and what’s expected in your LLC.

Here’s what an Operating Agreement usually includes:

  • Ownership: This part talks about who owns what percentage of the business.
  • Member’s Rights and Responsibilities: Here, you’ll write down what each person in the LLC can and cannot do and what they’re responsible for. It’s like a job description for each member.
  • Joining & Leaving: This section covers how new people can enter your business and what happens if someone decides to leave. It’s good to have this figured out so there are no surprises later.
  • Dissolution: This might sound a bit gloomy, but it’s practical. It’s about how to close down the LLC if you ever need to. It includes the steps to take and how to handle everything when wrapping up the business.

Creating an Operating Agreement is a smart move. It keeps things clear and organized so everyone knows what to expect, and it can save you a lot of headaches! 

Step 5: Getting Your EIN from the IRS

Your business needs a number called an EIN from the IRS. It’s like an ID number for your business. This number will help you as an identification number when getting bank accounts and credit accounts, filing taxes, and hiring employees.

It’s free, and you can get it from the IRS website at

Step 6: Obtain Necessary Business Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need specific state and local business licenses to operate legally in California. The requirements vary by industry and location, but you can start your search on the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development website. Obtaining the correct licenses is essential for compliance and avoiding potential fines.

File a Statement of Information

Your LLC must file a Statement of Information every two years with the California Secretary of State. This document updates the state of your LLC’s operational details, such as contact information and registered agent details. The filing fee is currently $20, and the form can be submitted online, by mail, or in person. 

California LLC Tax Requirements and Annual Report Filing

Employer Taxes and Tax Requirements in California

After setting up your LLC in California, you’ll navigate a landscape of tax obligations, especially if you’re planning on hiring employees.

  • Employer Taxes: For LLCs with California employees, you must register for Unemployment Insurance Tax with the California Employment Development Department (EDD). Additionally, you must register for Employee Withholding Tax through the same department. These steps are essential for complying with state labor and tax laws.
  • Tax Requirements: Beyond taxes specific to employers, your LLC may face other state tax obligations based on the nature of your business operations. California treats most LLCs as pass-through entities for federal tax purposes, meaning the LLC isn’t directly taxed on its income. Instead, profits and losses are reported on the members’ tax returns. However, LLCs can be taxed as corporations, which might be beneficial in certain circumstances. Regardless of your chosen tax classification, securing an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS is vital for tax purposes and is required for hiring employees, opening a business bank account, and more.

Annual Report Filing in California

In contrast to some states, California requires LLCs to file a Statement of Information, which serves as the state’s version of an annual report.

  • Filing the Statement of Information: This report must be filed with the California Secretary of State within 90 days of registering your LLC and every two years after that. The filing fee is currently $20 for online submissions. The Statement of Information can be filed online or by mail, and it includes information about your LLC, such as the address, the names and addresses of the members/managers, and the name and address of your registered agent.
  • Importance of Timely Filing: Late filings of the Statement of Information can lead to penalties and may risk the excellent standing of your LLC in California. Therefore, keeping track of your filing due dates and ensuring your LLC’s current information is essential.

California’s tax requirements and the obligation to file a Statement of Information are critical to maintaining your LLC’s compliance and operational health. By staying informed about your tax obligations and ensuring timely filings, you can help ensure the smooth operation of your LLC. Refer to the California Secretary of State and the California Employment Development Department (EDD) websites for comprehensive details and updates on tax obligations and the filing process.


New 2024 Reporting Requirements (BOI)

Effective from January 1, 2024

Big news! Starting January 1, 2024, there are new reporting requirements for both domestic and foreign reporting companies. This includes LLCs, corporations, and other entities. Here’s what you need to know:


First Report Deadlines:

  • Existing Entities: If your LLC was already around before 2024, you’ve got until January 1, 2025, to submit your first report.
  • New Entities: If you’re forming your LLC in 2024, you must file your report within 90 days of your company’s creation.


Who Needs to Report:

  • Domestic Reporting Companies: This includes LLCs and similar entities within the U.S.
  • Foreign Reporting Companies: Entities registered foreign entities must also adhere to these new rules.


Exceptions to Reporting:

  • For specific exceptions, you’ll want to refer to the Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Regulations at 31 CFR § 1010.380(c)(2) and the Small Entity Compliance Guide.


What Must Be Reported

What you need to report is all about transparency. The exact details can be found in the compliance guide, but it generally involves information about your LLC’s ownership and control.


When Must Reporting File Reports

Remember, if you’re an existing entity, your deadline is January 1, 2025. For new LLCs formed in 2024, it’s within 90 days of creation.


Filing Reports & Noncompliance Penalties

Starting January 1, 2024, all BOI reports must be filed electronically. Here are some critical points:

  • Filing Before the Date: You must file on January 1, 2024.
  • Accuracy: Filer certification of accuracy is mandatory – you need to double-check that everything you report is correct and accurate.

Penalties for Noncompliance:

  • False Information: Providing false information or failing to report accurately is a big no-no.
  • Penalties: If you slip up here, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 or even imprisonment for up to 2 years.
  • FinCEN’s Approach: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) focuses on education and outreach to ensure compliance. They’re not trying to trip you up; they want to help you get it right.
  • Safe Harbor Rule: Did you make a mistake? If you discover inaccuracies in your initial report, you have a 90-day grace period to submit a corrected report.

If you need more information or specific guidance, please visit the FinCEN website for all the details.

What to Do After You’ve Started an LLC 

  1. Open a Separate Business Bank Account: Keeping your personal and business money apart is super important. Mixing them up can cause significant problems, like losing the protection of having an LLC. This mix-up is sometimes called “piercing the corporate veil,” it can put your stuff, like your car or house, at risk if your business runs into trouble. To open a business bank account, you’ll need:
  • Your LLC’s Articles of Organization.
  • Your Operating Agreement.
  • Your Employer Identification Number (EIN).

When picking a bank for your business, consider the fees, minimum deposits, and benefits (like earning interest) they offer. Look for features that help your business, like using a debit card to pay for things. 

Get a Business Credit Card

A business credit card is an excellent tool for handling business purchases and can help build your company’s credit history. Just like with personal credit, a good business credit score can make it easier to get loans and may qualify you for better terms. Visit our website to see our favorite business cards review. 

Check out our blog: Novo Review: The Best Business Banking Account in 2024.


  1. Set Up Your Finances Right: Use good habits to track your money. This means not mixing your cash with your business’s. Good record-keeping makes tax time less stressful and helps avoid problems with the rules. You should use a program like QuickBooks to track your money, inventory, payroll, and sales. Talking to professionals like accountants or business lawyers is also intelligent, especially when understanding your LLC state’s tax rules. Find experts who know a lot about the area where your business is.


  1. Create a Professional Website: Having a website makes your business look legit. WordPress is a great tool to build your site. You can check out SiteGround or Hostinger for web hosting. They’re both good options to get your site up and running.


  1. Announce Your Business with a Press Release: A press release is a fantastic way to promote your new business and attract customers.

Starting an LLC in California involves several key steps, from choosing a unique business name to fulfilling state tax obligations and obtaining necessary licenses. While the process may seem complex initially, breaking it down into manageable steps can simplify it significantly. By following this guide, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your LLC in California and embarking on your entrepreneurial journey.

Remember, each step is an opportunity to solidify the foundation of your business, ensuring it’s set up correctly and legally compliant from the start. With careful planning and attention to detail, your California LLC will be poised for success. Good luck with your new business venture in the Golden State!

Bizee Overview

Bizee LLC handles the paperwork and legal stuff needed to get your business. Think of it as having a personal assistant for your business setup, ensuring you don’t trip over any legal hurdles or paperwork nightmares.

Why Choose Bizee?

Now, you might wonder, “Why go with Bizee?” First off, they save you a ton of time. We all know how precious time is, especially when you’re trying to get your business rolling. Bizee takes care of the tedious and complex stuff, like filing documents with the state, so you can focus on the fun parts of running your business.

Another big plus is how they help you avoid mistakes. Let’s be honest: filling out government forms can be confusing, and one small error can set you back big time. Bizee knows their way around these forms like the back of their hand, ensuring everything is done right the first time.

Bizee Core Services

  • Business Formation: They’ll help you officially start your business by filing it with the state. This includes setting up LLCs, corporations, and more.
  • Compliance: Bizee ensures your business stays in good standing with the state by managing annual reports and other legal requirements.

These services are the backbone of Bizee, ensuring your business is set up correctly and remains compliant with state laws.

Bizee Additional Services

  • Registered Agent Service: This is a must-have for keeping your business legit. Bizee will be your official contact for legal documents, ensuring you get all the necessary info.
  • EIN Acquisition: Think of an EIN as a social security number for your business. Bizee can get this number for you, which you’ll need to open bank accounts and hire employees.

Starting a business is exciting, but the paperwork and legal stuff can drag. That’s where Bizee LLC takes the hassle out of the equation. I recommend getting the gold/platinum plan for 99% of business owners. It’s the one I’ve used many times in the past, and it saves you so much time and ensures that there are no filing mistakes when it comes to your business.

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