How to file the California LLC Articles of Organization
In this lesson, we will walk you through filing your California Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.
This is the document that officially creates your California LLC.
You can form your California LLC by mail, or online.
LLC University® recommendation: We recommend the online filing (via BizFile) as it’s easier and the approval time is slightly faster.
You’ll find instructions below for both the online filing as well as the mail-in filing. And if you’d rather hire a company to form your LLC, check out Best LLC Services in California.
California LLC filing fee
The filing fee for an LLC in California is $70.
You can file your LLC online or by mail.
How much is an LLC in California explains all the LLC costs you’ll pay to start a company.
Note: The “LLC filing fee” (the fee to create a California LLC) is the same thing as the “Articles of Organization fee”. The Articles of Organization is the document, that once approved by the Secretary of State’s office, creates your California LLC.
California LLC approval
California has sped up their processes. California LLC approval time is now 8 business days. That’s the same for both online and mail-in filings. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to allow for a few extra business days for mail time if you choose that method.
Note: Filing times may take longer due to government delays. For the most up-to-date LLC processing times, check How long does it take to get an LLC in California.
Once your California LLC is approved, the state will send you a stamped and approved copy of your Articles of Organization (along with a welcome letter). They will arrive by email if you file online or arrive by mail if you file by mail.
Prior LLC University® lessons
Before forming your California LLC, make sure you have read the prior lessons:
Are you a licensed professional in California?
If you are a California licensed professional (architect, attorney, chiropractor, dentist, doctor, physical therapist, etc.) the state doesn’t allow you to form an LLC. For more information, please see most California licensed professionals can’t form LLCs.
How to form your California LLC online with BizFile (filing your Articles of Organization)
- Go to the BizFile homepage
- Click “Articles of Organization – CA LLC“
- Click “File Online”
Now you’ll need to set up a BizFile account. Click “Sign Up” at the bottom of the login screen, and create your account.
Some important notes about privacy:
- If you are thinking about using your home address in your LLC filing, you may want to reconsider.
- As the state mentions in their personal information in public filings page, the information you list in your LLC’s Articles of Organization will become public record and may appear in google searches.
- If you hire Northwest Registered Agent (the company we recommend), you can use their address in your LLC filing (and keep your address off public records).
This is optional and doesn’t need to be filled out.
However, if you want a copy of your LLC filing to be sent to another person (like a business partner, or your LLC’s attorney), you can enter their contact information here.
Professional Services Notices
There is nothing to enter on this page. The state is just letting you know that most California licensed professionals can’t form an LLC. For more information, please see California LLC for licensed professionals.
Limited Liability Company Name
- Prior lesson: Make sure you have read the California LLC name lesson before proceeding.
An LLC name reservation is not required to form an LLC and it’s often unnecessary. Most filers click “No” here. If you have a name reservation that’s already been filed though, click “Yes” and select the reserved name from the dropdown box.
Limited Liability Company Name:
Enter your desired LLC name in this box, including the LLC identifier (ending).
As per Section 17701.08 of the California Corporations Code, your LLC must have one of the following identifiers at the end of its name:
- LLC (most common)
- Ltd Liability Co.
- Limited Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
- Limited Liability Company
Note: Your LLC name can’t include any of the following words: Inc., Incorporated, Corp., Corporation, bank, trust, trustee, insurer, insurance company, or any other words that suggest your LLC issues insurance policies.
Initial Street Address of the Principal Office of LLC:
Enter your LLC’s Principal Office address.
Some notes about your LLC’s Principal Office address:
- it must be in California
- it must be a street address
- it can’t be a PO Box address
- it can be a home address
- it can be an office address
- it can be a friend or family member’s address
- this doesn’t have to be where business activities take place
If you want to keep your address off public records:
- As mentioned earlier, the address listed here will go on public records and may appear in Google searches.
- If you hire Northwest Registered Agent, you can use their address for your LLC’s Designated Office address.
Initial Mailing Address:
Enter your LLC’s mailing address (where you want to receive documents).
Some notes about your LLC’s mailing address:
- It can be the same address as your designated office, but it doesn’t have to be
- You can use any address you’d like, as long as you can get mail there
- It can be located in the U.S. or outside the U.S.
- The address can be a PO box
Agent for Service of Process (aka Registered Agent)
- Prior lesson: Make sure you have read the California Registered Agent lesson and Is a Registered Agent a Member of the LLC? before proceeding.
If you hired a Commercial Registered Agent, select “California Registered Corporate Agent (1505)”, search for the company in the list, then select them. Make sure to check the box confirming that the Commercial Registered Agent consented to serve as your LLC’s registered agent. This just means you’ve already hired the Commercial Registered Agent.
If you, a friend, or a family member will be your LLC’s Registered Agent, select “Individual” and enter the name and contact information.
Some notes about your LLC’s Registered Agent (Service of Process) address:
- The address must be a street address in California
- A PO box address is not allowed
- Like the other address fields in your LLC filing, this address will be listed on public record
There is nothing to enter here. By default, your LLC will have a general purpose. This means your LLC can engage in any and all legal activities.
- Related article: Member-managed vs Manager-managed LLC
Select whether your LLC will be Manager-managed or Member-managed.
If your LLC will be Manager-managed, select “One Manager” or “More than One Manager”
If your LLC will be Member-managed, select “All LLC Member(s)”
- A Member-managed LLC is where all the owners have the ability to bind the LLC in contracts and agreements, as well as run the business and day-to-day operations.
- A Manager-managed LLC is where one, or a few designated people (called “managers”), have the ability to bind the LLC in contracts and agreements, as well as run the business and day-to-day operations. The other members cannot bind the LLC in contracts and agreements, and they can’t take part in running the business and day-to-day operations. While the members initially vote-in the managers, after that, the members take a passive/investor role.
Some notes about members and management:
- Most California LLCs choose to be Member-managed
- LLC Members (owners) don’t get listed in your Articles of Organization; they get listed in your LLC Operating Agreement
Your File Date (aka LLC effective date) is the the date your LLC will go into existence.
If you want your LLC to go into existence right after it’s reviewed by the state, select “Current Date“.
If you want your LLC to go into existence on a future date, select “Future File Date” and select the date from the calendar. Note, your Future File Date can’t be more than 90 days ahead. And it’s can’t be back-dated.
This step is optional. You can upload attachments here, like additional articles. Most people skip this step.
Review and Signature
Select whether you will have one or more than one person (aka Organizer) signing the Articles of Organization. Most people just have one Organizer.
Review the information you entered and make changes if needed. If everything looks good, click the box at the bottom to confirm. Then click “Add” to add the Organizer’s signature. Type your name to electronically sign and then enter today’s date.
Review this page for any additional items you’d like to purchase.
Certified Copy ($5)
We recommend getting a Certified Copy (of your Articles of Organization). It’s only an additional $5. This means your approved Articles of Organization will have a stamp and seal certifying its authenticity.
Service Option (how fast)
- 24-Hour Expedited Service costs an extra $350. The total cost will be $420-$425.
- Same Day Service costs an extra $750. The total cost will be $820-$825.
Click “File Online” to proceed. Then click “Pay with Credit Card“.
Enter your billing and credit card info and submit your LLC filing to the state.
Congratulations! Your California LLC filing has been submitted to the Secretary of State.
You’ll see a “Submission ID Number” on the next page. Save this number before closing the window. You can use it to check the status by calling the California Secretary of State at (916) 653-6814.
Note: Your Submission ID Number isn’t the same thing as your LLC’s Entity Number. You’ll find your LLC’s Entity Number on your Articles of Organization (once it’s approved by the state).
California LLC approval (online filing)
After the California Secretary of State receives your LLC filing, it will be approved in 8 business days. However, during peak filing season (December through January), it can take a bit longer, so don’t panic if it’s been longer than that.
Once your California LLC is approved, you’ll receive an email from the state containing a copy of your stamped and approved Articles of Organization (along with a Welcome Letter).
California Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the California Secretary of State at 916-657-5448. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm, Pacific Time.
How to form your California LLC by mail
- The video below starts with an overview of California LLCs, then at 7 min. 45 sec. you can see the Articles of Organization being completed.
- Download the California LLC Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1)
- Prepare a check or money order for $70. And make it payable to “Secretary of State”.
- Mail your signed Articles of Organization and payment to:
Secretary of State
PO Box 944260
Sacramento, CA 94244-2600
The Mail Submission Cover Sheet is private (not on public records):
- Contact Person: Enter your name and phone number
- Entity Information: Enter your LLC name. Leave ‘Entity Number’ and ‘Comments’ blank.
- Return Address: Enter the address where you’d like your LLC approval sent to. This can be any address you’d like; it doesn’t have to match the address in the Articles of Organization.
California LLC approval (mail filing)
After the California Secretary of State receives your LLC filing, it will be approved in 8 business days (plus mail time). However, during peak filing season (December through January), it can take a bit longer, so don’t panic if yours hasn’t arrived in the mail yet.
Once your California LLC is approved, the Secretary of State will send you an approved copy of your Articles of Organization in the mail (along with a Welcome Letter). They will be mailed to the address you listed in your Mail Submission Cover Sheet.
Here’s what an approved California LLC Articles of Organization looks like:
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California Secretary of State: current processing times
California Government Code: Article 3 Business Programs
California Secretary of State: Limited Liability Company filing tips
California Secretary of State: personal information in public filings
California Secretary of State FAQs: how do I form a business entity
California Secretary of State: guidelines for access to public records
California Corporations Code: Title 2.6 CA Revised Uniform LLC Act
California Secretary of State: Filings are public records