How Much Does An LLC Cost In California? (2023 Details)

Discover the 2023 costs of forming an LLC in California! Get insights on fees, taxes, and hidden expenses for your business venture.

May 7, 2023 4:02 PM

Legally Reviewed by Susan Chai, Esq.

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Fact checked by Susan Chai, Esq.

When I first considered starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in California, I was overwhelmed by the costs and fees involved. There were countless expenses to consider, from filing paperwork to maintaining compliance with state regulations. But after extensive research, I now have a comprehensive understanding of the costs associated with forming and running an LLC in California. In this article, we'll delve into the details of these expenses so that you can make informed decisions when launching your own LLC in 2023.

We will cover everything from the current promotion for free formation until July 1, 2023, to standard fees for filing Articles of Organization, naming your LLC, securing a Registered Agent, acquiring an EIN, and more. Additionally, we'll discuss annual costs such as taxes and optional services that may benefit your business. By providing this information clearly and concisely, I aim to empower you with the knowledge necessary to navigate establishing an LLC while minimizing unnecessary expenditures confidently.


You might think that starting an LLC in California is expensive, but with the current fee waivers until June 2023, it's more affordable than ever! The cost to create an LLC online is $0 until June 30, 2023. After that date, the standard fee for filing Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1) will be $70. Aside from this expense, a few other mandatory and optional fees are associated with forming and maintaining your LLC. However, by taking advantage of available resources and carefully planning your business structure, you can minimize costs while still enjoying the benefits of limited liability protection.

The key to keeping costs low is understanding each step in the formation process and knowing where to save money without compromising quality or compliance. For example, being your registered agent or using free templates for operating agreements can help reduce expenses. Additionally, staying informed about tax requirements and deadlines will prevent unnecessary penalties or fees. Now let's dive into one of the essential steps in creating your California LLC – filing the Articles of Organization.

Articles of Organization

In 2023, forming an LLC in California is even more affordable, thanks to the state's decision to waive Articles of Organization filing fees until June 30. This means that instead of paying the usual $70 fee, you can file your formation documents for free during this limited time. This generous offer from the state government helps make it easier and more cost-effective for entrepreneurs like you to start a new business venture.

To make the most out of this opportunity, here are some important points to remember when filing your Articles of Organization:

  • Ensure all necessary information is accurately provided on Form LLC-1, including your desired LLC name and registered agent details.
  • Choose whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed in the form.
  • File online through the California Secretary of State's Bizfile Portal or by mail for faster processing times (average approval takes around eight business days).
  • Don't forget to check if additional licenses or permits are needed based on your specific industry and location.

By taking advantage of this waived fee, you can allocate those saved funds towards other essential aspects of building your business. Next up, let's explore how much it costs to register a DBA name for your California LLC.

DBA Name

Registering a DBA name isn't always necessary, but it can be helpful for branding purposes or to operate under a different business identity; for example, a clothing company called 'Golden State Threads' might also want to sell accessories under the name 'Cali Accents.' In California, DBA names are also referred to as Trade Names, Fictitious Names, Assumed Names, or Fictitious Business Names. While optional, filing for a DBA name allows your LLC to legally conduct business using a name that is not its official legal title. The cost of registering a DBA varies depending on the county where your LLC operates and typically ranges from $30 to $100.

When registering your desired DBA in California, you must first check if the chosen name is available and does not conflict with any existing businesses in the same county. Once you have confirmed that the name is available and complies with state guidelines, submit an application along with any required fees at the county clerk's office where your LLC operates. Keep in mind that certain counties may require you to publish notice of your new fictitious business name in a local newspaper within 30 days after filing.

If approved by the county registrar-recorder or county clerk's office, most DBAs are valid for five years before needing renewal. Now that we've covered some aspects of optional filings, like the DBA Name, let's focus on one of the mandatory requirements: selecting an appropriately registered agent for your LLC.

Registered Agent

It's crucial to have a suitable registered agent for your California LLC, as they play an essential role in ensuring smooth business operations. A registered agent is responsible for receiving and forwarding legal documents, such as service of process notices and official correspondence from the state. In California, your registered agent must be a resident of the state or a company authorized to do business there. They also need to have a physical address in California where they can accept mail during regular business hours.

One cost-effective option is to act as your own registered agent or appoint someone you trust, like a friend or family member, who meets the requirements mentioned above. This way, you won't have any extra costs associated with hiring an external registered agent service. However, hiring a professional registered agent service might be worth considering if you prefer not to handle this responsibility yourself or need to know someone qualified to help you out.

These services typically charge between $100 and $300 per year but provide added convenience and peace of mind that all important correspondence will be timely managed. With your registered agent sorted out, it's time to focus on creating an effective operating agreement for your California LLC.

Operating Agreement

Surprisingly, you don't need to shell out big bucks for an operating agreement covering all the bases – you can get a solid one for free. An operating agreement is a crucial document for both single-member and multi-member LLCs as it outlines the rules and regulations governing the company's internal operations. It helps establish a clear understanding among members about their rights, responsibilities, and financial contributions. Though not required by California law, having an operating agreement in place can help protect your limited liability status and prevent potential disputes among members.

There are various resources available online that provide free LLC Operating Agreement templates explicitly tailored for California businesses. One such resource is FormRush, which offers customizable templates for single-member and multi-member LLCs. Just make sure to review the template thoroughly and modify it according to your unique business needs before adopting it as your official operating agreement. Once you have crafted this essential document, it's time to move on to obtain your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

EIN Number

Ready to secure your EIN and take a step closer to launching your business? Let's dive in! An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is essential for any LLC operating in California. It's required to file income taxes, open an LLC bank account, and hire employees. The good news is that obtaining an EIN is free! You can apply directly through the IRS website or by mail. Remember that you'll need your Articles of Organization approval before applying for an EIN since it requires information about your newly formed LLC.

Applying for an EIN online is quick and easy; you'll receive your number immediately after completing the application on the IRS website. If you prefer to apply by mail, simply download Form SS-4 from the IRS website, fill it out with the necessary information about your California LLC and send it to the address provided on the form. Remember that processing times may vary with this method, so plan accordingly as you prepare to launch your business operations. With your EIN secured, you're one step closer to navigating the various taxes and fees of running a successful LLC in California.

Taxes and Fees

Now that we've discussed obtaining an EIN Number let's dive into the various taxes and fees associated with starting and maintaining an LLC in California. Understanding these costs upfront is essential so you can budget accordingly and ensure your business remains compliant with state regulations.

In California, there are a few mandatory fees for operating an LLC. First, there is the annual franchise tax of $800, which must be paid every year regardless of your business's revenue. Additionally, a Statement of Information filing is required every two years, accompanied by a $20 fee. Depending on your industry and location within the state, you may also need to acquire additional business licenses or permits – their costs will vary. Lastly, if you choose to work with an accountant for determining your LLC taxes or handling bookkeeping tasks, expect to pay anywhere between $300 and $900 per year.

With all these expenses accounted for, it's crucial to consider how forming an LLC in California can provide valuable benefits such as liability protection – which we'll discuss next.

Liability Protection

Understanding the liability protection an LLC offers can be crucial for safeguarding your assets and ensuring your business's long-term success. When you form an LLC in California, this limited liability protection separates your assets from the company's. In case of lawsuits or financial obligations, creditors cannot go after your possessions, such as your home, car, or savings. This legal shield is a significant advantage over sole proprietorships and partnerships, where there is no distinction between personal and business assets, exposing you to potential risks.

Maintaining proper business practices is essential to ensure this protective barrier remains intact. This includes keeping accurate records, separating finances through a dedicated bank account for the LLC, meeting state requirements such as filing annual reports and paying taxes on time, and adhering to any industry-specific regulations. By diligently following these guidelines and maintaining clear separations between yourself and the business entity you've created with an LLC formation in California, you'll continue to benefit from its substantial liability protection while paving the way for future growth and success. Now let's explore how to minimize costs when starting an LLC in California.

Cheapest Way

To maximize your savings while establishing your business, let's delve into the most affordable methods for starting an LLC in California. First and foremost, you can file your Articles of Organization online for free until June 30, 2023. This eliminates the standard $70 filing fee. When it comes to naming your LLC, this process is also free and gets approved alongside the Articles of Organization filing. If you need a DBA name, do some research on the costs in your local area as they vary by location – but remember that this step is optional. As for Registered Agents, consider acting as your own or asking someone you trust with a physical address in California to serve this role at no cost.

When crafting an Operating Agreement for both Single-Member and Multi-Member LLCs, utilize free templates available online from sources like FormRush to save money. Don't forget that obtaining an EIN Number from the IRS is completely free and necessary for various aspects of running your business, such as income tax filings, opening bank accounts, and hiring employees.

To avoid annual fees associated with accountants determining your LLC taxes (ranging from $300 to $900), invest time upfront in understanding industry-specific tax requirements so you can manage these calculations yourself. By following these tips and handling certain tasks independently rather than seeking professional assistance or paid services, you'll be able to minimize costs while setting up a successful LLC in California's thriving economy. Up next are some helpful resources that will assist you throughout this process!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any additional costs associated with maintaining an LLC in California that aren't mentioned in the article sections?

As a business owner in California, I've experienced firsthand the variety of costs associated with maintaining an LLC in this state. While some expenses are obvious, such as the annual franchise tax fee of $800 and the biennial Statement of Information fee of $20, there are other potential costs to consider. These may include additional business licenses or permits depending on your industry and location, accountant fees ranging from $300 to $900 per year for determining LLC taxes, and optional services like registered agent services that can cost between $100 to $300 per year. Don't forget about DBA filing fees if you decide to use a different trade name than your official LLC name – these vary by location. By staying informed about these various expenses and planning accordingly, you'll be well on your way to mastering the intricacies of running an LLC in California.

How do I determine if my business needs additional licenses or permits in California?

To determine if my business needs additional licenses or permits in California, I'll start by checking the Small Business Administration (SBA) website, which provides a comprehensive list of federal and state requirements. Next, I'll consult the California Chamber of Commerce List to find specific information related to my industry and location.

Additionally, I can reach out to local government agencies for guidance on any city or county-specific regulations that may apply. It's crucial to research these requirements thoroughly since operating without the necessary licenses or permits could result in penalties or even closure of my business.

What are the main differences between a California LLC and a California corporation in terms of costs and liability protection?

Starting a business in California is like embarking on an exciting journey with various paths to choose from. One critical decision you'll face is whether to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation. While both entities provide liability protection, shielding your personal assets from the company's debts and obligations, they differ significantly in terms of costs and structure. LLCs are generally more cost-effective and have simpler management requirements than corporations. For instance, LLCs do not issue stock nor have stringent record-keeping rules that corporations must follow.

However, corporations may offer certain tax advantages depending on your financial situation and business goals. It's essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each entity type before making your decision, as it can greatly impact the success of your venture in the Golden State.

How does the process of dissolving an LLC in California work, and what are the associated costs?

Dissolving an LLC in California involves a series of steps and some associated costs. First, I need to ensure that the LLC has no outstanding debts or liabilities and that all taxes are paid up to date. Then, I must file a Certificate of Cancellation (Form LLC-4/7) with the California Secretary of State and a $20 filing fee. If my LLC still needs to conduct business, I can submit a Short Form Certificate of Cancellation (Form LLC-4/8) instead, which also requires a $20 filing fee. Additionally, I need to notify the Franchise Tax Board and settle any remaining state taxes before closing down the business completely. Once these steps are completed, my California LLC will be officially dissolved and cease to exist as a legal entity.

How long does it typically take to set up an LLC in California, including the time for government approvals and document preparation?

Did you know that setting up an LLC in California can be as quick as 8 business days? That's right! The process typically includes choosing a unique business name, filing Articles of Organization (which takes around 8 business days for online approval), designating a Registered Agent, creating an Operating Agreement, and obtaining an EIN. While government approvals may vary depending on the time of year and other factors, preparing the necessary documents can be done efficiently with proper planning. By staying organized and proactive, you'll be on your way to establishing your California LLC in no time.


In conclusion, forming an LLC in California doesn't have to break the bank. With a bit of research and careful planning, you can make savvy financial decisions that'll support your business journey. Remember, taking advantage of the free LLC formation promotion until July 1, 2023, is like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow!

Stay informed about costs associated with forming and maintaining your LLC by referring back to this guide as needed. By doing so, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California's business world with confidence and ease.

Helpful Resources

Navigating the process of starting your business can feel overwhelming, but with the right resources at your fingertips, you'll be well-equipped to tackle each step confidently and economically. There are several helpful resources available that can assist you in understanding the requirements for forming an LLC in California and provide guidance on how to handle each aspect of the process efficiently.

  1. California Franchise Tax Board: The California Franchise Tax Board is an invaluable source of information when it comes to understanding the tax obligations associated with running an LLC in California. They offer detailed guidance on annual franchise taxes, filing deadlines, and other essential tax-related topics.
  2. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): To obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC, which is required for tasks such as opening a bank account or hiring employees, you will need to visit the IRS website. They offer a simple online application process that makes obtaining your EIN quick and easy.
  3. California Secretary of State Business Programs: For access to official forms and filing services related to starting an LLC in California, including Articles of Organization and Statements of Information, visit the California Secretary of State's Business Programs webpage. This resource not only provides all necessary forms but also offers additional information on naming guidelines and registered agent requirements.
  4. Small Business Administration (SBA): If your business requires licenses or permits based on its industry or location within California, check out the SBA website for assistance in identifying what documents are needed as well as how to apply for them.
  5. California Chamber of Commerce List: Finally, don't forget about local resources like chambers of commerce throughout various regions in California—they often have valuable insights into regional market conditions and can help connect you with networking opportunities or additional support services tailored specifically for small businesses like yours.

By utilizing these resources throughout your journey toward establishing a successful LLC in California, you'll be better prepared to navigate potential challenges and make informed decisions that lead to long-term business success.

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