How to Fill Out The California Articles of Organization
Starting a business in California requires completing several steps to ensure the company is legal and legitimate and if you are forming a Limited Liability Company, filing the Articles of Organization is one necessary step.
Steps To Fill Out The California LLC Articles Of Organization
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Taking some time to understand the California Articles of Organization can help minimize mistakes and set your business up for success.
Let’s go over how to file the LLC Articles of Organization in California.
Step 1: Enter the Submitter’s Information
This is an optional section but would be used if the Articles of Organization are being filled out by someone other than one of the owners.
Step 2: Certify the LLC is Not Providing Professional Services
This doesn’t affect many LLCs, however, if the services being provided by the business require licensing from the state, a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) will need to be applied for instead of the regular LLC.
Related: What is a Professional LLC?
Step 3: Pick a Name for the LLC
An LLC name will need to be chosen in the next section. Assuming you haven’t already reserved a name (which is not necessary to complete the filing), you will enter an entity name.
The name of your LLC must not be too similar to the name of another business entity already registered with the state of California. You can verify name availability by doing a California LLC name search with the California Secretary of State to be sure the LLC name is available.
The name of the LLC must include one of the following entity identifiers at the end of the business name:
– Limited Liability Company
– Limited Liability Co.
– Ltd. Liability Company
– Ltd. Liability Co.
Enter the LLC name including the identifier to continue. If you choose a name that is taken, a warning will show up in the name field.
Step 4: Enter Business Addresses
In the first few fields, enter the initial street address of the LLC’s principal office. This will be a California street address or the main location where the business records are kept. A physical address must be used as P.O. Boxes are not acceptable.
Next, enter the mailing address of the LLC. This address can be outside of California and a PO Box if desired.
Step 5: Appoint the Agent for Service of Process
The Agent for Service of Process is commonly referred to as a Registered Agent. The Agent for Service of Process can be an individual or California Registered Corporate Agent that is authorized to receive and accept legal documents on behalf of your LLC.
An owner can act as the Agent for the Service of Process or you may authorize an individual outside of the LLC or a registered agent service authorized by your state to act as the agent. The agent must use a physical street address in California and be available at that address during normal business hours.
Related: Can I be my own registered agent
Step 6: Enter the LLC Purpose Statement, Management, and File Date
In this section, there are a few areas to tackle.
First, there is a purpose statement. The state of California makes this easy by prefilling this section.
Second, the LLC management structure needs to be chosen. Here, you will choose that the LLC is managed by:
One Manager – This is referred to as a Manager-Managed LLC and is when the members of the LLC hire someone to run the business, similar to hiring a CEO for a corporation.
More than One Manager – This is also a Manager-Managed LLC, but with multiple managers.
All LLC Members – Most commonly, the LLC members manage the day-to-day operations of the business. This is called a Member-Managed LLC.
Last, the File Date needs to be selected. Usually, the current date would be chosen, however, you can have the LLC start up to 90 days in the future.
Step 7: Upload Attachments
This step isn’t needed by most LLCs, but if an attachment needs to be uploaded it can be done here.
Step 8: Review, Sign, & Pay
The last step includes reviewing the submitted information, the LLC organizer signing, and paying the state fee to submit the California Articles of Organization.
California LLC FAQs
How much does it cost to form an LLC in California?
The cost to register an LLC in California is $70.
What is the Initial Statement of Information?
Within 90 days of filing the Articles of Organization, the Initial Statement of Information (Form LLC-12) will need to be submitted to the California Secretary of State. The filing fee is $20, and if not filed within 90 days, a $250 penalty will be assessed.
What is the processing time to form a California LLC?
It usually takes between 3-4 weeks for the state of California to approve the LLC paperwork, however, for an additional fee, it can be processed faster.
Where do you check if your California LLC name is available?
Before filing the California Limited Liability Company paperwork, it’s important to verify the name you want to use is available. To check, visit the California Secretary of State’s name database.
Does California require an LLC to have an operating agreement?
California Corporations Code 17701.10 states that an LLC Operating Agreement is optional.
Despite the LLC operating agreement not being required, it is recommended to have one as it can help to prevent disputes among members and protect the LLC’s legal status.
Do California LLCs need an EIN?
Only California LLCs that either have more than one member, will hire employees, or elect to be taxed as a partnership or corporation are required to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
The EIN or Employer Identification Number (also called a Federal Employer Identification Number or FEIN) is a unique 9-digit tax identification number that is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
If the LLC isn’t required to get an EIN (though you can still get one), the LLC will use the social security number of the owner.
Related: How to Apply for an EIN
Are there any annual fees for a California LLC?
California LLCs must pay an annual franchise tax of $800 to the California Franchise Tax Board. This yearly tax will be due, on the 15th day of the 4th month from the date the LLC was formed.
In addition, there is a Statement of Information report that will cost $20 annually.
What business licenses are needed in California?
The requirements for business licenses and registrations in California vary depending on what the business does and where it’s located.
Here is a list of common business licenses in California.
Should I use an LLC formation service or do it myself?
Two of my top formation companies have a special offer where you can get your LLC formed without paying any additional fees (state fees still apply). Check out Zenbusiness and IncFile to learn more.