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Incorporate in California

Trying to understand how to incorporate in California? We’re here to help.

Sure, you could hire a national brand with a colossal advertising budget to form your California corporation. Or you could hire us. What’s the difference?

Simple: we do it better.

  1. We provide a California business address for your formation documents. This keeps your home address off the public record and spares you decades of junk mail.
  2. We’re affordable. We charge just $139 plus state fees to form your corporation. But that doesn’t mean we’re cheap. Our Redding, CA office is staffed with local experts who know the ins and outs of starting a business in California better than any out-of-state company.
  3. We’re fast. We’ll file your formation documents the same day we receive your order.
  4. We care. We’re not a huge, national brand. We want to see our clients’ businesses succeed. Call us and you’ll reach an actual human on the other end of the line — one who can walk you through the maze of paperwork and regulations in California.

Our Two California Incorporation Options:

1. Hire Us for Incorporation Services in California

Hire us for incorporation services and we will form your corporation for $139 plus the California state filing fees. That comes with one year of California Registered Agent Service.

What’s Included:

  • Articles of Incorporation, filled out and filed on your behalf
  • A California business address
  • Customized template for corporate bylaws
  • Initial Corporate Resolutions
  • One year of California Registered Agent Service
  • Annual compliance reminders
  • Secure client account to store important documents

Hire us and we’ll draft your California Articles of Incorporation and submit them to the California Secretary of State. Next, we’ll create your corporate bylaws and resolutions. You’ll always have access to those and other important documents in your secure client account.

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2. Do-It-Yourself California Incorporation

If you want to DIY your California corporation, we can help. Even if you incorporate in California on your own, you’ll need to declare a registered agent. Every business in California is required to have one. Hire us to be your California registered agent ($39/year), and you’ll get access to our full suite of helpful tools through your client account. That includes our pre-filled California Articles of Incorporation forms plus tons of tips, tricks and resources to help you finish filling them out correctly and quickly, without banging your head on your keyboard in frustration.

All you need to do is sign up for our California Registered Agent Service. Then, you’ll see the forms you need to fill out and tips on how to get it done.

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California Corporation Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Start a Corporation in California?
How much does it cost to incorporate in California?

Can I use my home address as my business address?
What’s the California corporate tax rate?
Do I need California corporate bylaws?
Do corporations have to pay the California franchise tax?
How do you amend Articles of Incorporation in California?
How do you dissolve a California corporation?
How do you register a foreign corporation in California?

How Do I Start a Corporation in California?

  1. Choose a California Registered Agent

    To incorporate in California, you need to first designate a registered agent. Your registered agent must be available during normal business hours at a physical address in California. The purpose of a registered agent is to accept legal mail on your behalf, so it’s important to designate a reliable California registered agent. The last thing you want is to miss a subpoena or summons.

    If you hire us to be your registered agent, we’ll accept any legal mail your business receives, scan it and upload it to a secure account where you can access it immediately.

  2. Fill out California Articles of Incorporation

    Once you have your California registered agent’s information, you’re ready to fill out your Articles of Incorporation. If you decide to hire us for registered agent service only, you’ll have access to the correct forms in your client account, along with step-by-step instructions on how to fill out your paperwork correctly – the first time.

    If you decide to hire us to form your corporation ($139/year), we’ll fill out the California Articles of Incorporation for you.

    The California Articles of Incorporation will ask for your corporation’s name and business address. The business address line is tricky, especially if you don’t work from a commercial building. If you list your home address as your business address, your home address will become part of the public record and you’ll probably get a ton of junk mail. Hire us and we’ll let you use our California business address.

    You’ll also have to provide your registered agent’s information, the number of shares you’re creating, and a signature from an incorporator. (Hint: hire us, and we’ll be your incorporator.)

  3. File Articles of Incorporation with the SOS

    Once you’ve filled out your California Articles of Incorporation, you need to submit the documents to the California Secretary of State, along with the correct filing fee. You can file online, by mail, or by dropping your Articles of Incorporation off in person at the Sacramento office.

    The state fees are included in our California incorporation price. If you hire us to incorporate your business, we’ll submit your Articles of Incorporation on your behalf.

  4. Maintain Legal Compliance

    California corporations are required to file annual reports. In California, an annual report is called the Statement of Information. If you forget to file or you miss your grace period, you’ll have to pay a $250 late fee – yikes. If you continue to be delinquent, your corporation could be administratively dissolved by the Secretary of State.

    At California Registered Agents, we make it almost impossible to forget to file your annual report. We provide you with a secure online account where you can easily see when your Statement of Information is due and we send multiple reminders.

Not sure if a corporation is the right business structure for you? Deciding on an entity type is an important decision. Check out our California Business FAQs to learn more.

How much does it cost to incorporate in California?

Incorporating in California will cost a minimum of $125.

Broken down, the standard filing fee for incorporating in California is $100. For an extra $15, you can hand deliver your Articles of Incorporation to the California Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento. You will also have to file an Initial Statement of Information within 90 days of forming, but we recommend doing it at the beginning. The Initial Statement of Information costs $25 to file.

Can I use my home address as my business address?

You can list your home address as our business address in California. However, there are a few reasons you might not want to (namely, your privacy). When you hire California Registered Agents, we provide a California business address for you to use.

What’s the California corporate tax rate?

The California corporate tax rate is 8.84%, unless your corporation is a bank or some other kind of financial institution. Each year, you’ll have to pay whichever sum is greater: 8.84% of your net income or $800.

Do I need California corporate bylaws?

Yes. You don’t actually have to file corporate bylaws with the government, but you still need to have them. Corporate bylaws are vital. They define how your corporation will function. Plus, when you open a business bank account, the bank will definitely ask to see them.

If you’ve never done it, creating bylaws can seem daunting. When you hire us to form your California corporation, we’ll provide a customized template to help guide you.

Do corporations have to pay the California franchise tax?

Yes. Even if your corporation doesn’t make any money, you’ll have pay the yearly California Franchise Tax. You’ll owe a minimum of $800 every year until you dissolve your California corporation. There’s really no way around paying the California franchise tax, so be ready.

How do you amend Articles of Incorporation in California?

To amend your Articles of Incorporation, you file the Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation form with the California Secretary of State. It costs $30 to file, and you can use the form to change your corporation’s name.

If you want to change something else, like your California registered agent, principal address, or the officers and directors listed on your original Articles of Incorporation , you’ll need to file a Statement of Information.

How do you dissolve a California corporation?

To dissolve a California corporation, you have to file the right California corporation dissolution form with the California Secretary of State. There are three different dissolution forms, and the one(s) your corporation will need to use depend on a few different factors.

If all of your shareholders have unanimously voted to dissolve, you’ll need to file the Certificate of Dissolution (Form DISS STK). If the decision to dissolve was not unanimous, you’ll need to file the Certificate of Election to Wind Up and Dissolve (ELEC STK). If your corporation is less than a year old and meets a few other requirements, you may be eligible to file the Short Form Dissolution Certificate (DSF STK).

Whatever form you file, you’ll need to be sure your corporation is active with the California Secretary of State – corporations that are suspended, forfeited, or administratively dissolved cannot be voluntarily dissolved.

How do you register a foreign corporation in California?

To register your out-of-state corporation in California, you’ll have to appoint a California registered agent, obtain a Certificate of Good Standing from your home state, and file Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation form. We can do that for you.

Incorporate in California
Foreign Qualification in California