Why Form a Corporation in California?

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CA Name Search and Registration for Your California Corporation

Whether you’re searching for the right California corporation name or registering your business with the CA Secretary of State, we can help. We’ve got all the information you need on California corporation searches, S Corporation and C Corporation naming rules, fictitious names and registering your business.

Start Your S Corp with Incfile     Start Your C Corp with Incfile

California Corporation Search

Before you can name your CA corporation, you need to make sure there aren’t any other businesses in California with that name. That means searching the California Secretary of State website using their business search tool. You can easily look up CA corporations by name and other details.

If your S Corporation or C Corporation name is already used by any type of business entity in California, that means it’s not available and you won’t be able to register it. Try searching for a different CA corporation name instead.

California Secretary of State corporation name search tool.

California Secretary of State Rules for Naming Your Corporation

Once you’ve found an original name for your California S Corp or C Corp, you will need to make sure it meets California Secretary of State naming rules.

General Rules for Naming Your S Corp or C Corp

The rules below generally apply to all corporations, wherever they are formed.

Your California Corporation Name Must Be Unique

The name you have chosen for your S Corporation or C Corporation cannot be used by any other registered business in the state of California. This is why you must check business name availability on the CA Secretary of State website.

Your CA Corporation Name Must Not Be Confusable With Another Business Name

Not only must your CA corporation name be unique, it cannot be similar to another corporation or LLC name in California. You cannot use the following factors to say your name is different from the name of another business:

  • Suffixes, such as Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp., Co., Inc., Ltd., LLC, etc.
  • Definite articles like “A,” “And,” “An,” “&,” “The,” etc.
  • The singular, plural or possessive forms of a word
  • Abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, fonts, typefaces, etc.

For example, you can’t claim that Purple People Co., Purple People Corporation, Purple People Incorporated, Purple People Corp. or Purple People are different from one another.

Your California Corporation Name Must Contain Certain Words

The name of your business typically needs to contain the words “Corporation,” “Incorporated” or “Limited,” normally at the end of the name. These suffixes can be abbreviated.

Your California Corporation Name May Have Other Restrictions

Most states will not allow you to form S Corporations or C Corporations with names that:

  • Are very similar to the name of a federal or CA agency or organization (e.g., FBI, FDA, California Department of Revenue, California Police, Treasury, etc.)
  • Suggest affiliation with a federal or CA agency or organization
  • Use the term “Olympic” or any terms that are trademarks of the Olympic organization
  • Imply a purpose that it would be illegal for your California corporation to carry out

Specific Corporation Naming Rules in California

There are additional, specific rules you will need to follow from the California Secretary of State for naming your CA S Corporation or C Corporation.

  • Using the following words in a corporation name requires special approval from a regulatory body: bank, trust, trustee or related words; credit union or related words; cooperative or any abbreviation of that word; insurer, insurance or related words
  • The name of a flexible purpose corporation must contain the words "flexible purpose corporation" or an abbreviation of those words
  • The name of a corporation authorized to incorporate as a professional corporation must comply with the name style requirements of the regulatory agency which has jurisdiction over the particular profession

More on California Secretary of State business naming rules.

California Corporation Fictitious Names

Some corporations choose to do business under a different name from the name they were formed under. In California, doing business under a different name is known as a “Fictitious Name.” We can file a Fictitious Name for your California corporation on your behalf with the county in which your principal place of business is located.

Incfile’s Assumed Business Name service

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 Trademark Search and Registration service. You should also bear in mind that your California corporation name cannot be substantially similar to an existing trademark or service mark.

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 either an S Corporation or a C Corporation today.

Start Your S Corp with Incfile     Start Your C Corp with Incfile

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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
$105 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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