How Much Does it Cost to Start an LLC in California?

Legal business registration—and keeping your business in good standing—involves some necessary expenses. Some of these costs are payable to the California Secretary of State, while others are due to the federal or California government. We’ve summarized the most common requirements and fees here.

Note that California business licenses and permits might need to be paid when you first form your business, on an ongoing schedule or on an ad hoc basis. Find more details below.

Initial Filing and Fees for Forming a California LLC

When you first incorporate your business in California, you’ll need to file an LLC with the TX Secretary of State and pay a California filing fee. Here are the current fees and filing times for California:

State Fee State Filing Time Expedited Filing Time
$75 4 Weeks 5 Business Days
Incfile Can File Your Incorporation Paperwork for You for Free

Just pay your required state fee.

Some States Allow You to Form Your LLC More Quickly by Paying a Rush Fee

Costs for an Employer Identification Number

Every California LLC should have a unique employer identification number (EIN). These are provided by the Internal Revenue Service and you use them when filing taxes, opening a business bank account and paying employees. You can get one yourself at no cost from the IRS or have Incfile obtain one on your behalf.

Foreign Qualification to Operate in a State Outside California

If you’re expanding your California LLC beyond the borders of the state, you will need a Foreign Qualification or Certificate of Authority to operate in another state. These are typically necessary if you have a physical presence, employees or banking in a different state than California. Fees and requirements for foreign qualifications depend on each state’s rules. Incfile provides a complete Foreign Qualification service for any state.

Annual Reporting and Fees for California LLCs

Most states need to file an annual (or other periodic) report with their Secretary of State. California is a little different and requires you to file a couple of different reports.

California Statement of Information (Form LLC-12)

File this report every other year with the Secretary of State.

California Franchise Tax

File Form 3522 (called the LLC Tax Voucher) every year, along with an $800 payment

Incfile Can Also Complete and File Your California Public Information Report on Your Behalf

California Business Licenses and Permits

Your California LLC may need certain licenses and permits to comply with specific requirements. These business permits and licenses might be issued by California, regional or federal organizations. Some of the associated fees only need to be paid once, while others have ongoing charges.

Permits and licenses vary based on:

  • The industry your California LLC operates in (e.g., restaurants will need health permits)
  • The location of your California LLC (state, county or city) (e.g., a license to conduct business from the city of Sacramento)
  • The type of business that you run (e.g., healthcare providers must meet HIPAA requirements)

Remember that operating your business without the required licenses can expose you to risks and fines from federal, California and local governments.

You can research these permits and licenses yourself or use Incfile’s Business License Research Package, which includes:

A complete report on all the licenses, permits and tax registrations your California LLC will need

The application forms you will need to file with the California, regional and federal licensing authorities

Operating Agreements for California LLCs

An Operating Agreement is a business document that covers how the business will be run, how managers and members are chosen, rights and duties of members and several other key areas.

Your California LLC should have an Operating Agreement.

If You’re Interested in Having Your Operating Agreement Created for You, Incfile Can Draft a General Operating Agreement Template When You Choose to Form Your California Business

You can choose to make changes to the template based on your unique requirements.

Other Potential LLC Fees or Requirements in California

There are several other fees or requirements that you may need to meet during the life of your California LLC. These ad hoc fees will only be payable in specific circumstances, which we’ve listed below.

To Obtain a Fictitious/DBA Name for Your California LLC

If you want your CA business to trade under a different name, you can file a form with the California Secretary of State. You will need to pay a California filing fee.

Incfile Can File Your Fictitious Name / DBA Forms on Your Behalf

To Change the California Registered Agent for Your CA LLC

Your California LLC needs a Registered Agent, which must be appointed when you first incorporate your LLC. You can also switch to a new TX Registered Agent later.

Have Incfile Serve as Your Registered Agent for You

It’s free for the first year if you incorporate with us, and $119 a year after.

To Reserve a Name for Your California LLC

If you don’t want to form your CA business right away, you can reserve a name with the California Secretary of State. You will need to pay a small fee to do this.

To Amend Certain Facts About Your California LLC

Your business formation documents state certain facts about your California business when it was originally formed. Over time, these facts might change — if they do, you need to file a “Certificate of Amendment” with the California Secretary of State. You can do this yourself or have Incfile complete the filing on your behalf. Areas you might want to file a California Certificate of Amendment for include:

  • Adding, removing or changing a California LLC member or manager
  • Changing the business address of your LLC
  • Altering the stated business activities of your California LLC
  • Changing the management structure of your LLC
  • Changing the name of your LLC

To Get a Certificate of Good Standing for Your California LLC

Some organizations will request that you prove your California LLC’s compliance with laws and tax requirements. If you need to prove you have met your commitments, you will need a “Certificate of Good Standing” from the California Secretary of State.

Incfile Can Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing on Your Behalf

The fees listed above detail all the charges that a standard TX LLC will be required to pay. In some unusual circumstances, there may be other one-off, periodic or ad hoc fees not listed above.

Of course, your California LLC will also probably need to pay self-employment, payroll, federal, state and sales taxes, but we will cover that when we talk about taxes for CA LLCs.

FAQs About California LLC Fees

What Happens to the State Fees That I Am Charged When Forming My California LLC?

We charge you for this fee at cost and then pay the fee to the secretary of state on your behalf when forming your California business.

Do I Need to Pay a Franchise Tax Report Fee Every Year?

Usually, yes. Most states require you file a report for your LLC every year. You can find out more on the compliance page for your state.

Who Will I Need to Get Business Licenses and Permits from for My California LLC?

It depends on various factors including:

  • The type of business you run
  • Where you are located
  • Governing organizations in your industry
  • Federal, state and local regulations

That’s why our business license research package is so useful. It explores all of these areas for you and provides a comprehensive overview of exactly what your California LLC needs to be compliant.

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