How to File an LLC in California

by Christopher Carter; Updated September 26, 2017

To file a limited liability company (LLC) in California, you must submit the proper paperwork to the California secretary of state's office in Sacramento. All LLCs in California also must file the business with the IRS to obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN). To legally operate in California, an LLC must obtain licenses and permits on the local and state level that differ depending on the type of business.

Step 1

Choose an available business name. To file an LLC in California, you must select a business name that isn't registered or held on reserve by another California business entity. As the Citizen Media Law Project notes, the proposed name for the LLC must include the words "limited liability company" or the abbreviation. You can conduct a name availability search on the California secretary of state's website.

Step 2

Submit articles of organization to the California secretary of state. The secretary of state's website allows you to download and print fill-in-the-blank articles of organization. An LLC in California may submit articles of organization by mail or in person. California articles of organization may include information about the business, such as the name and address, as well as the name and address of an initial agent of process. The initial agent of process must be an adult or a business with a physical address in the state of California. The initial agent of process must agree to accept legal documents for the California LLC. As of 2010, it costs $70 to file articles of organization in California.

Step 3

Create a written operating agreement. All LLCs in California must create an operating agreement and keep it at the principal place of business. The operating agreement doesn't need to be filed with the state, and there are no set guidelines in California for what must be included in the agreement. It may include information such as the manner in which meetings are conducted and the way profits and losses will be divided among LLC members.

Step 4

File a statement of information. An LLC in California may file a statement of information online via the California secretary of state's website. As explained on the Paralegal Plus website, an LLC in California has 90 days after filing articles of organization to file a statement of information. Supply information such as the name and address of the LLC as well as a statement indicating the business activities of the LLC. As of 2010, LLCs in California must pay $20 to file a statement of information.

Step 5

Apply for a federal employer identification number (EIN). The IRS issues EINs by phone, by fax, online or by mail. Visit the IRS website to submit Form SS-4 online or to download and print the form. If you apply online or by phone, you'll receive an EIN immediately. If you apply by fax, the process may take up to four business days. If you choose to apply by mail, it may take four weeks.

Step 6

Obtain permits and licenses. An LLC in California will be required to obtain permits and licenses based on the nature of the business. For example, an LLC that operates from a home may require nothing more than a business license from the city or county clerk's office. An LLC that sells goods, however, will be required to get a sales and use tax license as well as a seller's permit. Depending on the location of the company, you may need a zoning permit. Contact the city or county clerk's office where the LLC operates to determine what local permits and licenses are required.

About the Author

Christopher Carter loves writing business, health and sports articles. He enjoys finding ways to communicate important information in a meaningful way to others. Carter earned his Bachelor of Science in accounting from Eastern Illinois University.