When it comes to forming an LLC in California, the options can be overwhelming. It's essential to do your research and choose an LLC formation service tailored perfectly to your business needs.
So we decided to review some of our top client's picks for the best California LLC formation services in 2023. We consulted a team of legal professionals with years of experience in the industry.
Together, we've spent over a month analyzing all the essential elements, including cost, speed, and customer service, to help you make the right choice. We also based the review on first-hand experiences with some California LLC services.
Each LLC service has its strengths and weaknesses, so compare them carefully before making your final pick.
Here are the top seven LLC services in California.
Top 7 Best LLC Services in California (October 2023)
1 - ZenBusiness (Editor's Choice)Would you recommend ZenBusiness?
ZenBusiness is the ideal LLC service provider for California-based startups and entrepreneurs, offering premium features at affordable prices.
Their user-friendly interface ensures a swift initial filing process, clocking in at just 10-12 minutes. They offer clear package options, enriched by essentials like an EIN. My LLC was ready to roll in a mere four days, and I was equipped with a thorough New Business Kit.
Their intuitive dashboard demystifies the post-filing process, and their extensive library of resources is invaluable.
A noteworthy aspect is their billing approach for registered agent services, which kicks in only after LLC setup, showcasing their client commitment.
We found their starter pack particularly appealing, as it offers basic LLC services for $0, only covering the $1 state fee. This allowed us to begin our venture without making a significant financial investment.
Seeking a full analysis of this provider? Check out our detailed ZenBusiness analysis.
- Starter Formation Package ($0 + $70 State Fee): LLC formation, standard filing speed (2 to 3 weeks), and includes a 100% accuracy guarantee. ZenBusiness offers LLC formation packages to suit any budget, with their basic tier starting at $0 plus the applicable state fee. Additionally, they offer worry-free compliance free for the first year, which is optional and renews at $199/year if accepted. The package also comes with added benefits like banking, bank account services, Money Pro Bookkeeping, and a Website Builder, all with a 1-month free trial followed by nominal monthly fees.
- Pro Package ($199 + $70 State Fee): Includes everything from the starter plus fastest "rush" filling speed (1 to 2 business days avg), registration of EIN (Employer Identification Number), priority processing, filing of an annual report, and two amendments annually. The package also includes an operating agreement template at $79.
- Premium Package ($349 + $70 State Fee): Everything from Pro and Starter plus domain name registration and privacy, business email address, business document templates, and customizable business website.
- Registered Agent Services ($199): The service will renew at $199/year.
- Several formation package options available
- The cost for each plan is reasonable
- Extended customer support hours
- They hasten the growth of enterprises
- Has garnered several positive consumer comments
- No non-profit business formation
2 - Northwest Registered Agent ServiceWould you recommend Northwest Registered Agent Service?
Northwest Registered Agent has been a leader in forming LLCs for quite a while. Their commitment to customer service and privacy policies make them the go-to for those looking for an affordable solution.
They have built their reputation on high-quality support backed by years of experience.
Northwest Registered Agent has grown to be one of the greatest limited liability company firms in the United States for its outstanding California LLC service.
Our experience with Northwest Registered Agent was exceptional. We spent only 9 minutes on the initial filing, and in a swift 72 hours, everything was finalized, despite our 5-day selection.
We highly recommend Northwest Registered Agent for their excellent pricing, quick turnaround times, and exceptional customer service.
Whether you call, email, or use their online chat, their support team responds promptly.
Access the complete review of Northwest Registered Agent to learn more about this company's background.
- Base Formation Service Package ($39 + $0 State Fee): Includes all required formation documents, including name searches, registration, and legal document filing. Plus, their highly trained customer support team can assist you through each stage of the formation process.
- Full Service LLC Formation Package ($225 + $0 State Fee): Includes everything in the base plan plus EIN for the limited liability company, including free limited mail forwarding.
- Registered Agent Services ($125): Includes a free initial year of registered agent service then you are charged $135 yearly for California LLC services. This price applies only if you hire Northwest to form your LLC.
- Their experience encompasses two decades
- They maintain your personal information hidden
- Their pricing is straightforward
- If you utilize their formation package, they will provide you with a free one-year California LLC services
3 - IncFileWould you recommend IncFile?
For California businesses seeking affordable startup assistance, IncFile is the go-to resource for filing formation documents quickly and cost-effectively.
IncFile is a corporation that provides business creation and registered agent services.
They provide a comprehensive range of formation, compliance, and filing LLC services which we found very comprehensive and helpful.
We quickly learned we could count on IncFile's knowledgeable customer service team, which responded quickly and effectively.
Limited liability companies (LLCs), C-corporations, S-corporations, and charities may all be formed using IncFile.
This service has been highly praised by 10,000 satisfied customers, with nearly every single one of them awarding a perfect five-star rating.
- Silver Package (0 + $0 State Fee): Includes California LLC formation service, one-year registered agent service, and lifetime compliance alerts. They charge $0 for their California LLC formation services, requiring you to only be responsible for state fees and minimal additional expenses like address confirmation and certification fees.
- IncFile Gold ($199 + $0 State Fee): Includes drafting the operating agreement and banking resolution, and registration of an EIN. This package also brings Operating Agreements and Lifetime company alerts.
- Platinum Package ($299 + $0 State Fee): This package contains everything as the Gold package, and adds preferred rush filing, free domain name, and website, contract templates.
- Registered Agent Services ($119): Free first year of registered agent service which renews on an annual basis at $119 included. It is free for the first year if made with an LLC formation package.
- LLC service options are offered at a low cost
- The LLC incorporation package also comes with a year of free registered agent service
- They helped in the establishment of nearly 500,000 enterprises
- Telephone and e-mail help are obtainable
- LLC service upsells are excessive
4 - Swyft Filings
Swyft Filings serves as one of the most recent LLC creation service providers. They have just been in operation since 2015.
Swyft Filings, on the other hand, has quickly become well-known for its Limited Liability Company formations.
We loved their incorporation service which is particularly focused on assisting you in establishing your business as quickly, reliably, and inexpensively as feasible.
You'll receive all of the tools you need to get your company started quickly, thanks to their short approval process and excellent customer service team.
We found that it is ideal for small enterprises or entrepreneurs that need their company to start fast and at a reasonable cost.
Enhance your understanding of this company by consulting Swyft Filings' review.
- Basic Package ($0 + $0 State Fee): It contains everything you'll require to start your own business, such as the preparatory work and filing of articles of incorporation (if applicable), a free 30-minute business tax consultation, a company name availability check, the preparation and filing of articles of organization, ComplianceGuard company alerts, a free domain name, and a standard filing duration.
- Standard Package ($199 + $0 State Fee): This covers all listed above, in addition to a customized LLC banking resolution, customized organizational minutes, a customized federal tax ID (EIN), and a customized LLC operating agreement.
- Premium Package ($299 + $0 State Fee): It includes a complimentary business website and web hosting, express filing, all Basic and Standard solutions, the electronic delivery of state paperwork, a personalized digital LLC kit, and FedEx expedited and monitored delivery.
- Registered Agent Service ($99): This is an ongoing quarterly subscription. Swyft Filings bundles do not come with a registered agent service; thus, you must purchase $149 per year to use it.
- Customers have given them positive reviews
- This enables you to pay for the formation of your LLC in installments instead of everything at once
- Swyft Filings offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Neither one of their LLC creation packages offer yearly reports
- LLC formation doesn't include registered agent service
5 - LegalZoom
LegalZoom represents one of the most well-known names in the LLC formation and incorporation industry.
They are well-known not only because of their LLC formation services but also for their extensive range of online legal services and contractual arrangements templates they provide.
You do not require a legal background or extensive technology skills to use LegalZoom; they'll handle nearly every aspect of your business.
You may also expect fast response times when filing and obtaining papers.
Their registered agent service stood out for its efficiency. We enjoyed working with them, and the overall experience was delightful.
However, LegalZoom prices are comparatively higher than some of its competitors which may not provide the best value for money.
- Basic Package ($0 + $0 State Fee): Adds name search, articles of organization document, professional website by WIX, and digital welcome packet.
- Pro Package ($249 + $0 State Fee): Upgrades to even more deluxe features, including an operating agreement, EIN, in-depth guidelines on business licensing, and a 30-minute phone consultation addressing tax savings and insurance.
- Premium Package ($299 + $0 State Fee): Has both Basic and Pro packages, plus 30-minute countless consultation with a business attorney addressing new legal issues for the first 3 months of subscription. You'll also have interactive guidance from professionals in business law based on your state. The professional will also handle any changes in your LLC formation documents for the first 3 subscription months.
- Registered Agent Service ($299): Their premium registered agent service includes advanced features like identity theft protection, rigorous data security, and unrestricted virtual storage.
- Recognized LLC service brand
- Extensive customer support availability
- Wide range of legal services for your California LLC
- Limited features in LLC formation packages
- Too many high-priced add-on LLC services
6 - Harbor Compliance
If you've been looking for relevant LLC formation services, Harbor Compliance has most likely surfaced on very few listings.
They provide companies and NGOs with full-service compliance solutions throughout their years of existence.
Harbor Compliance is the industry leader for critical compliance solutions required to launch a new business.
Their LLC services range from expert LLC forms, incorporation assistance, and more, offering the essential tools needed to start your own company confidently.
Harbor Compliance is legit and famous for its excellent customer service.
We chose to give it a try and were quite impressed with the outcomes.
The company is reliable in terms of facilitating communication between business entities and government agencies. This keeps the company legally compliant at all times.
They prioritize their customers' privacy, using Norton and Trustwave to ensure website security and data encryption.
- Formation Package ($99 + $0 State Fee): Covers existence of Names, operating agreement form, articles of incorporation, EIN federal, and a registered representative.
- Registered Agent Service (89-$99): Among all LLC formations, Harbor Compliance offers a one-year period of registered agent service. This service will continue yearly at a price of $99 once the period term expires, and there are no additional charges.
- Harbor Compliance provides exceptional support for its clients
- Processing time of one day
- Harbor Compliance provides a cost-cutting alternative
- If you are dissatisfied, Harbor Compliance will not return your money
- The web page is old, out of date, and factually inaccurate
7 - SunDoc Filings
SunDoc is not among the top companies overall, but since you’re here to look for the best online LLC formation service in California, you might want to consider this.
They offer to hand-deliver paperwork to the California Secretary of State's office three times every day–that’s already an advantage when it comes to turnaround time. This perk is hard to find elsewhere.
Because of this, SunDoc has gained popularity among California entrepreneurs and small business owners.
As per our experience, SunDoc was really a surprise. We must say that we didn't expect much but it turns out they delivered a pretty decent service.
Sundoc's customer support was very knowledgeable and super helpful and we managed to stay on top of all of our legal obligations.
- Basic Package ($79 + $0 State Fee): This Basic Package comes with LLC formation, courier, business license summary, and email delivery.
- Key Package ($99 + $0 State Fee): Key Package contains features from the Basic plan, but requires you to draft your own articles of organization. This includes email delivery and a description of the company license.
- Premier Package ($279 + $0 State Fee): Includes EIN registration in addition to everything in the previous package.
- Registered Agent Service ($149): They are simply accountable for delivering subpoenas and other state notices to you as your registered agent. In addition, it costs $159 per year for an existing entity.
- Guaranteed quick California LLC formation turnaround time
- Excellent customer feedback
- Efficient and ease of use order process
- No registered agent included
- Expensive bare minimum packages
Advantages of Creating an LLC in California
Establishing an LLC in California may be an ideal solution for those seeking the benefit of both corporation and sole proprietorship business structures.
By evaluating the various service providers, business owners can ensure that this legal entity affords them personal liability protections similar to those found in corporations while benefiting from lower taxes typically associated with sole proprietorships.
Read below for a snapshot of the benefits of forming an LLC.
1. Personal Liability Protection
While the primary benefit of forming an LLC in California is protection from personal creditors, there are additional benefits. An LLC can also help a small business avoid personal liability associated with other owners and members .
Incorporating as an LLC will give business owners the peace of mind of knowing the LLC will safeguard their venture against unexpected or unpredictable debts.
2. Pass-Through Taxation
LLCs in California have the advantage of accessing pass-through taxation. Unlike other large corporate entities, LLCs don't face double taxation at both a personal and business level, avoiding costly extra payments towards taxes.
3. Taxes Specific to California LLCs
Setting up an LLC in California is a relatively simple process that does not involve a large sum of money. However, there are taxes associated with this legal structure that must be paid.
These are yearly LLC franchise taxes, a tax estimated fee tailored to your company, and an LLC return of revenue .
The California business landscape may have a few restrictions and strict regulations when it comes to establishing large corporations, however, there are many favorable laws for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
California LLC Formation Process
Individuals forming an LLC in California may be able to save money by foregoing the use of an LLC formation service.
The California Secretary of State does not require their utilization, although they can certainly provide valuable benefits during the process. .
Follow these eight easy steps to form a California LLC:
- Step 1: Find a suitable LLC name
- Step 2: Find a California registered agent
- Step 3: File California LLC Articles of Organization
- Step 4: File LLC Initial Statement of Information
- Step 5: Decide on the type of your California LLC
- Step 6: Make an LLC operating agreement
- Step 7: Obtain a California LLC EIN
- Step 8: Obtain LLC licenses and business permits
Qualities to Look For in an LLC Service
When forming an LLC in California, understanding the separates a top-tier service from the rest is key.
Consider the following qualities when researching LLC services:
- Competitive pricing of packages: Establishing a business doesn't have to be unattainable, explore reasonably priced bundles that feature all the essential tools your business needs.
- Ease of use: Forming a business is much simpler with an LLC formation service that offers an easy-to-use internet interface, providing users with the best possible online experience.
- Customer support: LLC formation service can provide a smooth and stress-free experience, taking the burden off you with rapid response times.
- Proven track record: Get the facts before you decide. Using online sources, take a look at customer reviews and track records which will ensure the firm is reputable and has an excellent background in the field.
Do I Need an LLC Service?
Yes, you need an LLC service if you don’t want to deal with all of the paperwork that comes with the LLC formation process. However, the Secretary of State does not require hiring LLC services for your business formation.
Is California a Good Place to Start an LLC?
Yes, California is a good place to start an LLC. LLCs, like those in other states, have limited liability protection, which means they are not personally liable for the company's debts and if the company’s being sued. They also benefit from pass-through taxation and other advantages.
Do You Have to Pay the $800 California LLC Fee the First Year?
Yes, you have to pay the $800 California LLC fee for the first year. All LLCs, including those that aren't operational, must pay this first-year annual tax fee before the end of the 15th day of the fourth month of incorporation.
How to Choose the Best LLC Service in California for You
Though many California LLC formation services may assist you in forming your LLC, based on our personal experience and research, we recommend ZenBusiness.
They are the best choice because of their well-rounded LLC services and customer support. Their services offer an accessible and economical way to get your business off the ground, providing all necessities for success.
We were delighted with the LLC formation service packages, registered agent services, and processing time. Positive reviews from their former clients also testify to this.