Why Form a corporation in California.

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Naming Your California Corporation

You need the right name for your California corporation. Choosing the right name is vital because it tells your suppliers, customers and employees what your business does. California has several rules and regulations about what you can call your new business. Let’s explore what they are.

General California Secretary of State Rules on Naming Your Corporation

  • The name of your corporation needs to be unique and not used by another corporation or business operating in California
  • The name cannot be confused with any other business operating in California
  • You can search for other businesses in California here
  • The name of your business must end with “Corporation,” “Incorporated” or “Limited”
  • These suffixes can be abbreviated
  • If you’re not forming the business right away, you can reserve the name for a fee of $10

Don't Confuse Your California Corporation Name With Another Business Name

The following terms can’t be used to say your business name is different from another business name:

  • Suffixes like Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp, Co, Inc, Ltd, corporation
  • Definite articles like “A,” “And,” “An,” “&,” “The” etc.
  • The singular, plural or possessive forms of a word
  • Punctuation and symbols
  • Abbreviations of words
  • Different typefaces, fonts, superscript, subscript etc.

It should not be possible to confuse the name of your business with the name of another California business. For example, you can’t claim that Purple People Co., Purple People Corporation, Purple People Incorporated, Purple People Corporation or Purple People are different from one another.

Rules on Words You Can’t Use in Your Business Name

  • The California corporation name can’t suggest affiliation with any federal or state government entity or agency
  • The business name may not include the words trustee, bank or trust
  • Your California business name cannot include any words suggesting you are an insurer or assume insurance risks
  • The business name cannot include “Agency,” “Commission,” “Department,” “Bureau,” “Division,” “Municipal” or “Board.”

Although these are the main rules about naming your business in California, there are plenty more. You can find additional rules about naming your California business on the California Secretary of State website.

California Information on Naming a Corporation

  • You can reserve a name. Please note that you do not need to reserve a name if you are forming a corporation right away.
  • By registering a corporation, the name will automatically be held for your business. You would normally only reserve a name if you are not planning on forming a new company anytime soon.
  • You can understand how to reserve a name here.
  • A name can be used to form any type of business entity, not just a corporation.
  • Just filing a name registration doesn’t guarantee you will be granted the name. You should wait until your corporation is formally formed before using the name for anything else.

Rules on Infringing on Service Marks or Trademarks Inside or Outside California

In addition to the rules above, it’s also vital to see if your California corporation name might infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. For example, it might not be a good idea to call yourself “General Electric Research Services,” since General Electric is a trademark.

The easiest way to see if your proposed business name infringes is to carry out a trademark search. You can do that via the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or Incfile can help you protect your business with our new trademark search and registration service. You should also bear in mind that your California business entity name cannot be substantially similar to an existing trademark or service mark.

What Should You Call Your California corporation?

Finding the perfect name can be tough. You want a business name that:

  • Describes what your California business does
  • Appeals to your planned audience
  • Makes your business easy to find
  • Is relatively unique
  • Doesn’t limit you to a particular location or type of product or service

Fortunately, we’ve got some good advice on seeking out the perfect business name for your California corporation. Check out our guidance on naming your corporation and get inspired.

You’ve Found the Perfect Name, What Next?

Once you’ve found the right name for your business, it’s time to make it a reality. Check out our packages for starting your California corporation and form your corporation today.

Only $49 + State Fee To Launch Your Business

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What are the fees and requirements to form a business in California?

Filing Time and Price

The state charges this amount to file a new business entity. This fee goes directly to the Secretary of State.

State Fee State Filing Time Expedited Filing Time
$100 15 Business Days 5 Business Days

Compliance Requirements

This report is mandatory and must be filed within the specified time frame in order for the entity to remain in good standing with the state. Failure to file this report can lead to the company being revoked or administratively dissolved.

Statement of Information

Frequency: Biennially

Due Date: During six-month period ending on last day of anniversary month of incorporation or qualification.

Filing Fee: $20

Important:The initial Statement of Information filing is due within 90 days of the entity formation date.


California Franchise Tax

Frequency: Annually

Franchise Tax Fee: $800 (minimum)
$800 payment for the LLC Franchise Tax is due by 15th day of the 4th month after your LLC is filed. The month your LLC is filed counts as Month 1, regardless if you file on the 1st of the month, the last of the month, or any day of the month, really. This means that if you were to file your LLC on March 22nd, then you must pay the $800 fee no later than June 15th (in this example, March is Month 1, April is Month 2, May is Month 3, and June is Month 4). Then, every year after your first payment $800 LLC Franchise Tax will be due by April 15th. You pay the $800 LLC Franchise Tax using Form 3522 called the LLC Tax Voucher.
(We do not assist in the filing of the Franchise Tax Report)

Learn more about starting a business in California

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