The California LLC Articles of Organization is a form you must complete and file to register an LLC in California. The completed document should be submitted to the California Secretary of State – online, by mail, or in person.
Articles of Organization capture all the basic information needed by the secretary of state to legally form an LLC. Below we will walk you through how to access, complete, and submit the form to the state authority.
WHAT ARE LLC ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION CALIFORNIA?
LLC Articles of Organization for California is a document used to form an LLC in the state of California. You must complete and file the document to legally register your company with the California Secretary of State.
Once your Articles of Organization are reviewed and approved your LLC becomes a legal entity. Below we cover everything you need to know about accessing, completing, and filing the document.
- Access California Articles of Organization Form
- How to Complete the Form
- How to File with California Secretary of State
- What Happens Next?
- Frequently Asked Questions
HOW TO GET CALIFORNIA LLC ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION FORM
You can access the California LLC Articles of Organization in one of two ways. You can physically download a pdf and complete the form manually, or you can access and complete your submission online. If you download and complete a hard copy you will have to submit your document by mail or in person.
To access the Articles of Organization online, visit the Secretary of State’s Online Business Services site and click the ‘Account Access Guide’. Follow the instructions to create a secure account and click through to form LLC-1 Articles of Organization Limited Liability Company (LLC). You can now complete and submit your LLC Articles of Organization California using your online account.
To download a hard copy of the LLC-1 Articles of Organization form – click here. Click the print icon and download the pdf to your device. Then print a hard copy and begin completing the form manually.
HOW TO COMPLETE CALIFORNIA ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION
The California LLC Articles of Organization form is a single page with just six fields – company name, business address, service of process, management structure, purpose statement, and signature of the organizer. If you have all your information ready the form can be completed in minutes. Below we will describe how to complete each field.
FIELDS TO BE COMPLETED
- Limited Liability Company Name
- Business Addresses
- Service of Process
- Purpose Statement
- Signature of Organizer
LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY NAME
The first section of the California LLC Articles of Organization form captures the name of your LLC. Choosing a name that does not meet the California Secretary of State guidelines is the most common reason an Articles of Organization submission is rejected.
It’s worth taking the time to choose a name that ticks all the boxes and won’t delay your LLC formation application. You can search name availability on the California Secretary of State’s Online Business Services website.
Your company name must meet the naming guidelines of the California Secretary of state, see below.
The company name must include an LLC identifier. It must include one of the following terms: LLC, L.L.C., Limited Liability Company, Liability Company, or Ltd.
Must be Unique
The business name you choose must not be in use by another business or be easily confused with another company.
Avoid Confusion With Government Agency
The name of your company must not cause it to be confused as a government body. For example, you cannot include the words Agency, FBI, State Department, or Treasury.
Avoid Confusion With Insurance Company
You cannot use a name that gives the impression your LLC is an insurance company. This prohibits the use of terms such as insurer and insurance company.
There are several restricted words you cannot use in your company name, for example, bank, trust, trustee, or university.
In this section, you will enter the address of your main California office. The address must be a physical street address located in the state of California – you cannot use a PO box. Additionally, you can add a mailing address if you do not want to receive mail at this address.
Your mailing address does not have to be located in California. You should note that these addresses will become public record when your submission is approved and placed on file. If you wish to protect your privacy, do not use a home address when completing CA Articles of Organization LLC.
SERVICE OF PROCESS
This section captures the name of the individual or corporation that will act as the company’s registered agent. Every California LLC must appoint a registered agent. You can appoint either an individual such as a company member or employee, or hire a state-approved corporation to act as your registered agent.
If you choose an individual you must enter their first, middle, and last name, suffix, street address, city, and zip code. The individual must have a physical street address in California and you cannot use a PO box. Additionally, they must be available at this address all year around during regular business hours. If you choose to appoint a California registered corporate agent you just need to provide their name.
A registered agent is an individual or business that accepts important legal or business documents on behalf of a company. Once received they pass these documents on to the company owners. They are sometimes referred to as an agent for service of process.
The name of your registered agent will become public record once your California LLC Articles of Organization are placed on file. If you wish to protect your identity it is a good idea to hire a professional Registered Agent Service.
This section defines the management structure you will employ to run the company. You must choose from the options below, only one can be selected.
- One Manager
- More than One Manager
- All LLC Member(s)
If the company plans to appoint a manager to handle day-to-day operations, select ‘One Manager’. If you plan to hire more than one manager select ‘More than One Manager’. And, if the company is to be run by the company members, select All LLC Member(s). If managers are appointed to run the company they are granted the power to enter contracts on behalf of the company – while members take a back seat, passive role.
You will not enter any information in the purpose statement section. The field is pre-populated with a general business purpose statement. A uniform entry is used for all LLC companies formed in the state of California. If you wish to specify a specific purpose of business statement, you can do so in your LLC Operating Agreement.
SIGNATURE OF ORGANIZER
The organizer is the individual that completes the Articles of Organization. It can be any member of the LLC or a third party – if hired to complete the submission. The organizer must sign and print their name.
HOW TO SUBMIT CALIFORNIA ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION
You must submit your Articles of Organization to the California Secretary of State. You can do this online, by mail, or in person.
To submit your documents online visit the California Secretary of State’s Online Business Services site and click the ‘Account Access Guide’ to get started. The site will walk you through the process of creating a secure online account and submitting your Articles of Organization.
If you’ve printed the form and completed it manually you can submit a hard copy by mailing it to the address below.
California Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings
PO Box 944228
If you want to submit your document manually you can hand it over in person at the address below.
Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Processing times vary depending on the volume of applications passing through the system at any given time. Check the Online Business Services site for up-to-date information on wait times when submitting your documentation. In general, you can expect to wait up to 1 week for an online application to be reviewed. Hard copy submissions take longer, usually 2 to 3 weeks.
If you need your Articles of Organization processed more quickly you can pay for an expedited service. For a small fee, you can speed up the review process and bump your paperwork up the queue, see below.
When you file an Articles of Organization with the California Secretary of State you will have to pay a fee. The fee stands at $70 for online and mail applications. Documents filed in person are subject to an increased fee of $85. However, the fee has been temporarily waived until July 2023. So, if you submit your Articles before this time you will not have to pay a filing fee.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Filing your LLC Articles of Organization with the California Secretary of State is just one step in a series of steps to forming a California LLC. Once you have filed your documents you should turn your attention to the areas below. For more detailed information see How to Form a California LLC.
An Operating Agreement is not a legal requirement in the state of California. However, you are advised to create one from the outset of forming your LLC. An operating agreement is an internal company document and is not filed with the state.
It defines the roles of company members, how profits and losses will be distributed, and how the company will be managed. An Operating Agreement is a legally binding contract between company owners and is an invaluable conflict resolution tool. For more see What Is an LLC Operating Agreement?
GET YOUR COMPANY EIN
An EIN is an Employer Identification Number. Your company needs an EIN to open a bank account, hire employees, and pay taxes. The nine-digit number is issued by the Inland Revenue Service, free of charge. You can apply for an EIN online, by mail, or by fax. For more information see EIN for an LLC.
OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT
Once you get your EIN you should proceed to open a business bank account. If you want to protect the limited liability status of your company, you must keep your business and personal assets separate. Failure to do so could result in the seizure of personal assets if the company is ever sued. For more information see Opening a Bank Account for an LLC.
LICENSES & PERMITS
The business license and permits you need will vary depending on the nature and location of your LLC. California does not require a general business license but you should reach out to your local and state authority to determine the precise licenses and permits you’ll need to secure. Then there are federal licenses. Some industries are regulated at a federal level and require a federal license. Check out our full guide – Business License & Permits for LLC.
INITIAL STATEMENT OF INFORMATION
Newly formed California LLCs must file an Initial Statement of Information within 90 days of formation and then every two years. The statement captures an updated snapshot of all the basic information the state needs to keep on file about your company. The document records the LLC owners and officers, business address, and business description. It must be accompanied by a $25 filing fee.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here’s a round-up of the questions we get asked when discussing LLC Articles of Organization California.
How much does it cost to form an LLC in California?
The formation fee for an LLC in California is $70. However, this fee has been waived until the end of June 2023. If you form an LLC in California before this date there will be no fee.
What document is needed to start a corporation in California?
To start a corporation in California you must file an Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State.
How do you make a change to your Articles of Organization in California?
To make a change to your Articles of Organization in California you must file an Amendment to Articles of Organization form with the California Secretary of State. Depending on the change, you may be required to update all state and government records of your LLC.
Do you have to hire a lawyer to form an LLC in California?
No, you don’t have to hire a lawyer to form an LLC in California. You can complete and submit your company’s Articles of Organization yourself. However, many business owners choose to hire a lawyer to receive professional legal advice.
About the Author
Erik Chambers: Senior Editor
Erik is a 30-year industry veteran with a wealth of experience in cross-functional areas ranging from business consulting to business education. He has worked in the private sector where he has advised start-up enterprises on early formation, capital acquisition, and tax issues.
While he specializes in business formation he has also held roles in several academic institutions where he teaches organizational decision-making, business strategy, and operations management. Erik is a graduate of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.