If you’re ready to start a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in California, an online LLC formation service is a great option to help you file the required business documents with the state.
Choosing among the best LLC formation services depends on your business needs. Do you just need your documents filed with the state? Or do you also need LLC Registered Agent services?
Whether you’re looking for the lowest prices, a great LLC service that will also be your Registered Agent, or one that will file Annual Reports on your behalf, we compared them and created this list of Best LLC services in California.
Who’s the best LLC service in California?
Bottom line: We recommend Northwest Registered Agent.
While other online business formation service companies below may have a cheaper upfront cost, there are often confusing upsells and hidden renewal fees. And some companies even sell your personal data.
Northwest, on the other hand, has simple pricing and has extra features to prioritize and protect your privacy.
Best LLC Services:
#1. Northwest Registered Agent
Our #1 Pick
- $100 + state fee
- Special offer: $39 + state fee when you use this LLC University discount link: Northwest Registered Agent
- Address privacy: Free
- Helpful and knowledgeable customer support
- Registered Agent service is free for the 1st year (then it renews at $125 per year)
Pros: No hidden fees or upsells. They don’t sell your personal data. Address privacy. And excellent customer service from LLC experts.
Cons: Only one LLC package.
Simple Business Formation Services
Why just one package? Northwest decided to keep things simple and not offer various LLC formation packages.
Many competitors’ packages have unnecessary items bundled with the formation services.
Often the extra services they include can be done at home for free (like an Operating Agreement), or are just plain unnecessary. Sometimes we wonder if the competitors add these extra items to justify charging more for the packages.
Tip: Make sure you click this special Northwest Registered Agent link to get the best deal. This includes 1 free year of Registered Agent services and a 60% discounted price on the LLC formation fee. That makes Northwest’s expert LLC formation service one of the most affordable in the industry.
Best for Privacy
Northwest is the only LLC formation service that lets you use their address on your California LLC paperwork, which keeps your address off public records.
An address is required to form an LLC with the California Secretary of State. Instead of using your home address, Northwest lets you use their address instead (they have physical office locations in all 50 states).
This helps keep your address off of public records and online searches. It’ll also reduce the amount of spam and junk mail you’ll receive. If privacy is important to you, we think you’ll agree this makes them the best LLC service for small business.
Northwest Registered Agent has a well-designed, modern website that uses a streamlined interface so you don’t get lost. The LLC formation process is simple and easy to understand.
We like that Northwest uses honest, clear language everywhere on their site.
Best LLC Formation Service
Overall, we think Northwest Registered Agent is the best LLC service out there. They don’t have confusing packages or a long list of upsells.
We love that Northwest doesn’t sell your information to other companies (unlike many competitors).
Best of all, they let you use their address throughout your California business formation documents to protect your privacy. You also get LLC Annual Report reminders, and an online document dashboard.
Best Customer Service
Northwest has excellent customer support and lots of experience with LLC formation. We like that Northwest’s customer service representatives are all subject matter experts and available to help, rather than focusing on selling you something.
Free Registered Agent service
Northwest offers free Registered Agent service for the 1st year if you hire them to form your LLC. It renews at the regular rate in year 2 and beyond.
Bottom line: we believe that Northwest is the best LLC service on the market.
Want to learn more about Northwest Registered Agent? Northwest is who we use for our own LLCs and we highly recommend them for the best LLC services. Read our full Northwest Registered Agent review to learn more.
Our pick for extra LLC services
- $59 + state fees for basic LLC package
- Great customer support team
- Registered Agent service is free for the 1st year (then it renews at $99 per year)
- Optional annual subscription: MyCompanyWorks Premium compliance tools
Pros: They include (for free) more business formation services and extras than competitors. Helpful advice.
Cons: Some expensive upsells.
We like that the MyCompanyWorks Basic LLC formation package includes a lot of free documents and services (where competitors charge extra).
MyCompanyWorks also has very fast turnaround times when compared to other LLC formation services companies, which is important for small business owners.
Easy to Use Website
MyCompanyWorks uses clear, easy to understand language on their website. They explain everything thoroughly and are straightforward. The MyCompanyWorks website is informative and easy to navigate.
We like that MyCompanyWorks offers high quality explainers and other resources to their customers.
Good LLC Service Value for Money
We like that MyCompanyWorks gives you good value for your money and doesn’t have any pushy sales tactics.
They also keep things simple, without offering a lot of extra features you don’t need. MyCompanyWorks also has affordable Registered Agent services.
MyCompanyWorks offers quality advice in articles and explainers throughout their site. Because they offer a wide variety of LLC services, MyCompanyWorks is one of the best LLC services if your business needs help after filing your LLC.
Our Pick for Hands-off Entity Management
- $0 + state fee for basic LLC package
- Customer service not as helpful as other companies
- Registered Agent service is free for the 1st year (then it renews at $199 per year)
- Lots of optional add-ons for yearly subscriptions
Pros: Lots of resources for new businesses.
Cons: Confusing packages and auto-renewing services.
ZenBusiness is a good LLC service if you want an interactive chat-based process. They also offer many LLC services that can help your business stay compliant with state law.
ZenBusiness has a convenient user dashboard for business compliance documents and Registered Agent services.
New Chat-Based Business Formation Service
Recently, ZenBusiness introduced a formation process that uses an automated “chat” where you have a simulated conversation with a robot. It’s meant to gather all the information needed for your Articles of Organization.
We found this version very slow and time-consuming compared to just filling out a form. But it does still give helpful explanations for the different topics, and it is a user-friendly interface.
LLC Service Website
ZenBusiness has a friendly website that invites users to interact with an AI chat. However, this means it takes some time to find out what options ZenBusiness can offer you.
And it can be a little difficult to figure out which prices are auto-renewing subscriptions versus one-time fees. Overall, if you’re looking for the best website to make a California LLC, choose a different company (not ZenBusiness).
The ZenBusiness LLC packages give you many business services and features at reasonable prices.
They also offer a Worry-free Compliance Package. If you purchase this, ZenBusiness will file your LLC Annual Report for you each year. This is a great feature if you want someone else to handle the annual LLC filings with the state.
However, watch out for subscription services that start out free but renew at a higher annual price. Overall, ZenBusiness offers good value for money and their website makes for a pleasant business formation service experience.
- $0 + state fee for basic LLC package
- Customer service not the best
- Registered Agent service is free for the 1st year (then it renews at $119 per year)
- $99 for Business License Research service
Pros: Basic package is free. Reliable business license & permit research.
Cons: Lots of upsells and a confusing refund policy. Customer support can be hard to reach.
$0 Service Fee
We believe that the IncFile Silver plan is a unique LLC formation package in the industry. Other companies also offer a free LLC service, but they don’t give you the extra services that IncFile does.
You don’t pay any service fees (just the state filing fee) and you still get a year of free Registered Agent service if you use them as your California LLC service. This is a way to get a company’s help filing your documents without spending a lot of money upfront.
The IncFile Silver package is a good fit for someone who just wants a company to file their LLC documents with the state.
If you need customer service to help you figure out the process, they aren’t necessarily a good choice. If you want to purchase extra services, they also aren’t the best choice.
Business License Research
Your business may need a California Business License to operate. Sometimes figuring out exactly which business licenses you need can be confusing. If you hire IncFile to form your LLC, you can add their business license research service during checkout.
If you decide to hire another company, or form your LLC yourself, you can also purchase the IncFile stand-alone business license research service.
Their business license research service is competitively priced, and we like that you can order the business license research as a separate item. Some competitors only offer the business license service in an LLC service bundle.
Confusing Language but Simple Website
Some of the language on IncFile’s website can be confusing. We had trouble figuring out their refund policy, and identifying exactly who provides the services they advertise.
However, the IncFile website itself is well-designed and easy to use. The LLC formation process is streamlined and simple, while still having many useful features.
#5. Rocket Lawyer
- $99 + state fee for LLC formation (or $0 + state fee if you’re a subscriber)
- “Customer support” is primary sales focused
- $150 per year for Registered Agent service (or $112 per year if you’re a subscriber)
Note: It costs $40 per month to be a Rocket Lawyer subscriber.
Pros: A big brand LLC service with extra legal services.
Cons: Expensive Registered Agent service. Many features require you to pay a base-price of $40 per month per month in order to get discounts on other services.
Who is it good for?
We only recommend Rocket Lawyer California LLC formation services to people who already subscribe to Rocket Lawyer for their legal services – like document templates and consultations with attorneys.
Among the “big” legal services companies, Rocket Lawyer has a good combination of expertise, a variety of legal services, and solid customer reviews. They’re not the best LLC service, but they do offer extra features that can be appealing.
Professional Website for LLC Services
The Rocket Lawyer website uses plain and honest language. This matches their “simplicity” philosophy: everything is clear and easy to follow. As you’d expect from a big company, Rocket Lawyer’s website is very robust. It’s easy to find the information or LLC services you need.
The LLC formation process is structured to be simple and intuitive. It asks you questions instead of presenting you with a complicated form.
Do you really need legal services?
Rocket Lawyer can be a good resource for small business owners in California that need contracts and other legal forms. They can also give you (limited) access to business attorneys.
However, if you don’t need the extra legal services and are just looking to open your business, we encourage you to consider using a different company that specializes in LLC formation services.
Conclusion: California LLC Formation Services
We think Northwest Registered Agent is the best service for LLCs in California and it’s who we use ourselves.
Their Registered Agent services allow you to use their address throughout your paperwork in all 50 states to protect your privacy (no other LLC formation service offers that for free).
They also keep things simple, and have the best customer support in the industry.
We like IncFile’s free formation package for just the bare bones of California LLC formation.
And our pick for extra LLC services, like a DBA filing, is MyCompanyWorks.
RocketLawyer is the best choice if you want to subscribe to a full-service legal support company for business forms and legal advice.
But we still choose Northwest for the overall best LLC service company for their privacy protection and customer service.
Form your California LLC yourself
If you’ve read about all of these best LLC services and feel like you’d be comfortable with a DIY approach, then you’re in luck! Instead of hiring a company to form your LLC, you can just file your LLC yourself.
Check out our free step-by-step guide for How to Start a California LLC.
You can easily form an LLC yourself, and you’ll only pay the state filing fee. We walk you through every step of the process and explain everything you need to know.
Best California LLC Service FAQs
What about LegalZoom?
You may have seen other articles that include LegalZoom as the best California LLC formation service. However, they didn’t make our top 5.
Although they are a big brand and spend a lot of money on advertising, we don’t think LegalZoom is a good provider of online LLC services for small business owners.
Read our full LegalZoom LLC Review to get the whole story.
- Their LLC service prices are expensive.
- Their LLC approval time is slow (unless you pay more).
- Their Registered Agent services are expensive (and hard to cancel).
- Customer support isn’t always helpful (in fact, you’re often speaking with sales agents).
- There are a lot of upsells.
How much does an LLC cost in California?
Here are the costs for a California LLC:
Is Delaware the best place to form an LLC?
If you live in Delaware, then yes – Delaware would be the best place to form your LLC. But if you don’t live in Delaware, then no. Don’t fall victim to the hype on other websites about Delaware LLCs.
If you form an LLC in Delaware, but live in and conduct business somewhere else (for example, in California), you’ll also need to register your Delaware LLC in California (and pay fees).
And you’ll end up paying California taxes anyway. For most people, this ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
What is the best place to get an LLC?
The best state to start a Limited Liability Company is the one where you’ll be doing business. For most people, this will be the state where you live.
If you don’t live or do business in the state where you form your LLC, you’ll need to register your LLC as a Foreign LLC in your home state.
This means you’ll need to maintain two LLC filings, pay two state filing fees, and maintain two Registered Agents.
Please see Best State to Start an LLC to make sure you’re forming an LLC in the right state.
Can I be my own registered agent for my LLC in California?
Yes, you can be your own Registered Agent in California.
All the LLC services also offer Registered Agent services when you hire them to form your Limited Liability Company (they’ll receive legal documents on behalf of your LLC).
Often, they include the first year of Registered Agent service free or offer another discount when you bundle LLC creation and Registered Agent services.
But you don’t have to hire the company to be your Registered Agent. You can list yourself (or a friend or family member) as the California Registered Agent for your LLC and save money. There is no state requirement that you hire a company to be the Registered Agent.
Learn more in our article: Can I be my own Registered Agent in California?
Do I need an EIN number for an LLC?
Yes, you should get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) number for your California LLC (learn more here: California EIN Number). Although you can technically operate a Single-Member LLC using your Social Security Number, we don’t recommend this.
Most banks require an EIN in order to open an LLC bank account (and a business bank account is important for keeping your business and personal assets separate). This helps ensure you have personal asset protection – the main benefit of starting an LLC.
Does an LLC save me money on taxes?
No, having an LLC doesn’t save you money on taxes.
LLCs have Pass-through Taxation. This means that the taxes on the LLC’s profits pass through the company and are paid by you, on your personal tax return (Form 1040).
Said another way, paying taxes on an LLC works the same way as it would for a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership. Meaning, you don’t have to pay separate business taxes.
To learn more about LLC taxes, please see How are LLCs taxed.
Do I have to hire an LLC Formation company?
No, you don’t have to hire an LLC Formation service to start your California LLC.
(If you do choose to hire a company, we hope this article helps you feel confident that you’re choosing the best California LLC service.)
The state doesn’t care who files the paperwork to form an LLC. If you’d like to save money and time, you can file your LLC yourself!
Do I need a lawyer to form an LLC in California?
No, you don’t have to hire an attorney to start your LLC. Some people choose to hire a lawyer because their LLC has complicated ownership structures or management rules. But that’s rare, and most people can form their LLC on their own.
Where do I go to create an LLC in California?
If you’re ready to create your LLC yourself, you can use our free and easy-to-understand LLC guides.
Remember, there’s no requirement that you hire a company for California LLC services. You can file everything yourself directly with the California Secretary of State.
How do I find LLC formation services near me?
Good news – you don’t have to choose an LLC filing company that is physically located near you. You don’t even need to choose an LLC filing company with its headquarters in California.
Most LLC filing companies can file an LLC in any US state. For example, they have employees that specialize in filing the LLC paperwork in certain states to make sure things are done correctly.
Note: Although you can hire any LLC service company you want, it’s a good idea to choose an LLC accountant near you. A local accountant will be familiar with state and local taxes, and help you make sure your LLC stays compliant with tax requirements.