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How to Fill Out The California Articles of Organization

How to Fill Out The California Articles of Organization

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How to Fill Out The California Articles of Organization

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

The Articles of Organization are the official paperwork that creates an LLC with the California Secretary of State by either downloading Form LLC-1 or filing online.

Anyone can learn how to form their own LLC, but using an entity formation service like Zenbusiness, Northwest, and IncFile guide you through the LLC formation process, so you will save time and know everything was done right.

Zenbusiness and IncFile are running a special where you only pay state fees for your LLC formation!

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

California LLC Articles of Organization Submitter 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

California LLC Name Selection

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.
– L.L.C.

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

California LLC Articles of Organization Address Information

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

California How to Fill Out the Articles of Organization

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.

Related: What is the difference between a Member-Managed LLC and Manager-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.

Related: How to Create a California Operating Agreement

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?
The right answer for everyone is different. If after reading our guide, you may feel overwhelmed or unsure of the process, and if so using an LLC formation service may be the best option. Formation services break down the process and make sure that all of the legal paperwork is properly filled out and submitted.

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.

How to Fill Out The California Articles of Organization

How to Fill Out The California Articles of Organization

Greg Bouhl

Greg Bouhl

Welcome! My name is Greg Bouhl, and I am a serial entrepreneur, educator, business advisor, and investor.

StartingYourBusiness.com is here because of the many clients I worked with who made decisions based on inaccurate and outdated information.

Starting a business is hard, but here you will find the practical tools, resources, and insider tips to help you successfully start a business.

If there is a question about starting a business or help finding a resource, I'm here to help!

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