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CALIFORNIA

Why Form a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?


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How to Name Your California Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Choosing the right name for your California LLC is vitally important. It helps you tell your suppliers, customers and employees what your business does. In California, there are several rules and regulations about what you can call your new business. Let’s explore what they are:

California Rules on What You Can Call Your LLC

  • The name needs to be unique and not used by another LLC or business operating in California
  • LLC names must use the English alphabet or regular numerals (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  • The name of your California business must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC”
  • “Limited” and “Company” can be abbreviated to “Ltd.” and “Co.”

Rules on Not Confusing Your California Business Name With Another Business Name

  • It should not be possible to confuse the name of your business with the name of another California business.
  • When deciding if names are substantially similar, you cannot claim a different type face, font, accents, subscript / superscript characters, punctuation or words like “the,” “and,” “of” etc. to claim your business name is different.
  • The following words can’t be used to say your business name is different to another business name: Corporation, Company, Incorporated, Incorporation, Limited, Corp, Co, Inc, Ltd, PC, Professional Corporation, Limited Partnership, LP, L.P., Limited Liability Limited Partnership, LLLP or L.L.L.P.
  • For example, you can’t claim that Blue Widget Co., Blue Widget LLC, Blue Widget Incorporated, Blue-Widget-Company or Blue Widget are different to each other.

Words You Can’t Use in Your California Business Name

  • The business name may not include the words "corporation, corp, trustee, bank, trust, incorporated or inc."
  • 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.

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 name might infringe on the trademark or service mark of another business. For example, it might not be a good idea to call yourself “iPhone Repair Services,” since iPhone is a trademark owned by Apple.

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. You should also bear in mind that your business entity name cannot be substantially similar to an existing trademark or service mark.

How to Search for Your California Business Entity Name

You can search the database of the California Secretary of State for your proposed business name to see if it's unique.

You will find the following:

  • Names of corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships of record with the California Secretary of State
  • PDF copies of Statements of Information

What Should You Call Your California LLC?

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

  • Describes what your 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 LLC. Check out our guidance here to 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 guide to starting your California LLC and form your LLC today.

Only $49 + State Free 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 10 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 Free: $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

Additional resources, guides, and articles for better decision making.

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