Last updated: July 12, 2022

If you’re looking to form a California LLC, there are many online business formation services that can assist you. However, it is crucial that you find only the best LLC service in California. Else, your business formation process would suffer and could end up delayed for weeks, if not months.

In this article, we will go over the California LLC formation process and provide you with a list of the best LLC services, as well as things to look for in an LLC service. All of this information should help you decide which online LLC service is right for you.

5 Best LLC Services in California

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The best California LLC formation service frees up your time so you can concentrate on running and expanding your business. Below are the top-rated online LLC services that will form a California LLC for you at a low cost while yet providing excellent service.

1. ZenBusiness

With quality LLC formation package features matched with affordable pricing, ZenBusiness stands as the best LLC service for California startups and entrepreneurs. Since 2015, it has already formed over 300,000 LLCs nationwide and runs an average 4.7/5 rating across 4,500 online client reviews.

ZenBusiness offers three LLC formation package tiers, with the most basic starting at $39 per year plus the California state fee. That price point already includes a one-year free registered agent service and a free operating agreement template.

ZenBusiness Service Features

  • Starter Formation Package: Includes LLC formation, one-year registered agent service, and a free operating agreement template.
  • Pro package: Includes EIN (Employer Identification Number) registration, VIP processing, handling of annual report filings, and two yearly amendments.
  • Premium package: Includes rush filing, business domain name, website email address, and domain privacy.
  • Registered Agent Services: All three of its LLC formation packages include a full year of free registered agent service. The service then renews annually for $119 or $99 a la carte.
Pros
  • Features cost-effective LLC formation packages
  • Responsive and personalized customer service
  • Outstanding customer feedback online
  • Includes one year of registered agent service
Cons
  • Does not have much experience since they are a relatively new company
  • Requires paying an additional $70 to get an EIN for basic packages

2. Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent logo with office workers in the background

Providing LLC formation services since 1998, Northwest Registered Agent has already made a name for itself for having top-notch customer support in the industry and an affordable LLC formation package.

Northwest Registered Agent’s LLC formation pricing starts at $39 and includes a free year of registered agent service, keeping your initial costs low.

Plus, their highly trained customer support team can assist you through each stage of the formation process.

You may also contact them at any moment if you have any questions or require assistance.

Northwest Registered Agent Service features

  • Base Formation Package: Includes all paperwork required for the LLC formation process, such as name searches, registration, and filing of all legal documents. Plus, the 1-year free registered agent is included.
  • Deluxe Package: Includes services from the base package plus access to an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Registered Agent Services: Includes a free year of registered agent service. The service then renews annually for $125.
Pros
  • Best-in-the-industry customer support
  • Includes one year of registered agent service
  • Has a mail forwarding service
Cons
  • Limited features in their packages
  • Doesn’t have many customer reviews online

3. IncFile

Incfile logo with business people in the background

If you’re concerned about high startup fees in California and only need your formation documents filed, then InFile is your best pick.

They charge $0 for their California LLC formation services, leaving you to pay only state fees and other minor charges like address and certification fees.

IncFile's customer service department is also plausible with its rapid response time.

This is corroborated by over 10,000 customer reviews, nearly all of which have perfect five-star ratings.

IncFile Service features

  • Free Silver Package: Includes California LLC formation, 1 year of free registered agent service, and lifetime company compliance alerts.
  • Incfile Gold: Includes preparation of operating agreement, banking resolution, and EIN registration.
  • Platinum Package: Adds free business website and domain name, business contract templates, and priority expedited filing.
  • Registered Agent Services: Includes a free year of registered agent service. The service then renews annually for $119.
Pros
  • Has free LLC service
  • Includes one year of registered agent service
  • Over 98% of positive customer reviews online
Cons
  • Has a few upsells and third-party offers
  • Requires paying an extra fee to get an EIN registration
  • Company alerts are quite overwhelming

4. LegalZoom

Legalzoom logo with business people in the background

LegalZoom is an online one-stop shop for legal services. Because of this, they have assisted over 4 million people and businesses in various ways since its founding in 2011, half of which involve the formation of LLCs.

Compared to some other LLC services in this list, LegalZoom prices are too high for what you get.

Their entry-level package is reasonable, but not as feature-rich as ZenBusiness and IncFile.

Nonetheless, they aren't the strongest brand in the LLC formation service industry for nothing.

LegalZoom Service features

  • LLC formation Economy Package: Price starts at $79 + California state fee. Includes basic LLC filing services.
  • Basic Economy Package: Price starts at $329 + California state fee. Adds business name search, Peace of Mind Review™ compliance check, and 30-minute tax savings consultation.
  • Standard Package: Price starts at $349 + California state fee. Adds deluxe organizer and official certificates and seal.
  • Express Gold Package: Price starts at $349 + California state fee. Adds express shipping and VIP processing.
  • Business Advisory Plan: Offers tax advice, attorney help, and access to legal forms.
  • Registered Agent Services: Costs $159 in the first year if added to a formation package. The service then renews annually for $249.
Pros
  • Established brand in LLC formation services
  • Extended customer support hours
  • Extensive legal services for your California LLC
  • High client volume
Cons
  • LLC formation packages don’t include a lot of features
  • No registered agent included
  • Many upsell to high-priced add-on services

5. SunDoc Filings

SunDoc logo with business people in the background

SunDoc is not among the top companies overall, but since you’re here to look for the best LLC service in California, you might want to consider this.

It is based in Sacramento and offers 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.

Because of this, SunDoc has gained popularity among California entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Plus, the majority of the 3,000 reviews we found online were positive.

SunDoc Service features

  • Key Package: Price starts at $99. Includes preparation and filing of your LLC formation documents. There is a $79 option but requires you to draft your own articles of organization.
  • Premier Package: Price starts at $279. Includes EIN registration.
Pros
  • Guaranteed quick California LLC formation turnaround time
  • Excellent customer feedback
  • Efficient and ease of use order process
Cons
  • No registered agent included
  • Expensive bare minimum packages

Advantages of Creating an LLC in California

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There are various benefits to establishing an LLC in California. This business entity offers the best of both worlds: the personal liability protection given by corporations and the taxes of a sole proprietorship. Read below for more information.

Personal Liability Protection

Incorporating LLC as a business entity can keep you protected from personal creditors. In fact, it’s one of the primary reasons entrepreneurs and business owners start an LLC in California. But, LLCs do more than protect small businesses from debt collectors. They also protect them from potential personal liability incurred or brought on by other owners or members of the LLC.

Pass-Through Taxation

Forming an LLC in California gives you an advantage over forming a corporation, especially with taxation. As an LLC, you can access pass-through taxation which means that your California-based LLC will not have to pay taxes twice, unlike most large corporations, which are required to pay taxes at both the corporate and personal levels.

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

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Technically, the California Secretary of State does not necessitate the use of an LLC formation service.

Although these services are quite advantageous, you may save money by completing the process yourself. You may form a California LLC in eight easy steps:

  • 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

An office person using a white laptop on a white table

There are a few factors to consider when selecting among California LLC formation services.

Some of the qualities of the best LLC services to look for are as follows:

  • Competitive pricing of packages: Consider a reasonably priced bundle that includes all of the tools to establish your own business.
  • Ease of use: The order process of forming a business should be simple. An LLC formation service with an easy-to-use internet interface is also a plus as it gives a better online experience.
  • Customer support: For a hassle-free and worry-free experience, LLC formation services with a quick response time are the ideal option.
  • Proven track record: Customer reviews are there for a reason. Check to see if the firm has an excellent track record and client reviews. These things are easily found online.

FAQs

How to Lookup an LLC in California?

Visit the California Secretary of State website and find the Business Search Page. Then, type in your desired name as search criteria. If the results returned to show business entities that are not overly similar to yours or find no matching entity name, you are free to use it.

On the other hand, if the California business search results find limited liability companies' name that resembles or is identical to your target name, you are not allowed to use them.

How to Dissolve an LLC in California?

In California, there are five steps to properly dissolve an LLC.

  • Step 1: Notify LLC members
  • Step 2: Follow the Points in the Operating Agreement
  • Step 3: Announce the Dissolution to Creditors and Lenders
  • Step 4: Close your Tax Accounts
  • Step 5: File the Appropriate Dissolution Form

How Long Does It Take To Form My LLC in California?

The turnaround time for the approval of your LLC formation in California will depend on the service you choose or how loaded the paperwork is in the Secretary of State. But, generally speaking, online filing takes around 3 business days while in-person filing in the California Secretary of State takes around 5 to 6 business days.

How Much Does Forming an LLC Cost in California?

The California Secretary of State charges an $85 filing fee for the articles of organization. In addition, the statement of information must be provided within 90 days after the formation of the LLC, with a filing fee of $20.

Do I Need an LLC Service?

It depends on what you need at the moment. The Secretary of State does not require hiring LLC services for your business formation, so you can actually do the process on your own.

However, if you don’t want to deal with all of the paperwork that comes with the LLC formation process, then you might want to consider acquiring LLC services.

How to Choose the Best LLC Service in California for You...

Though there are many California LLC formation services that may assist you in forming your LLC, these five provide the most dependable service. They're all reasonably priced and simple to use. However, your pick will still be determined by what you are searching for in a service.

We recommend ZenBusiness if you want a well-rounded service, and IncFile if you want the best value in service. SunDoc will do the job if you’re in a rush to form California LLC. We suggest NorthWest Registered Agent for excellent client service and LegalZoom for solid brand power.

We hope this guide has helped you pick the right and best California LLC formation service for your business.

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