How Long Does it Take to Form an LLC in California? (Guide)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: November 27, 2023
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The Limited Liability Company (LLC) formation process is relatively fast and easy, thanks to the state's streamlined registration process.

After extensive research and consultations with legal experts, I delved into the process of forming an LLC in California to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information.

Since I’m a seasoned business consultant myself and after consulting LLC experts in California, we aim to offer you a comprehensive guide on the timeline involved in establishing the business entity in California.

Quick Summary

  • It takes 3 to 5 business days to form an LLC in California online and by mail. 
  • The Secretary of State offers expedited service for online applications. You can avail of the same-day processing period for $750.
  • In-person applications are processed within 5 working days. 
  • In my experience, it’s better to file online and use the expedited service so your LLC may start operating sooner. 

What is The Fastest Way to Start an LLC in California?

Clock and laptop

The fastest way to start an LLC in California is through expedited service. You have the option to avail of a 24-hour processing, same-day turnaround, or 4-hour delivery service for additional fees.

To ensure a smooth and efficient process, it is advisable to follow the steps and comply with the requirements outlined by the Secretary of State.

LLC Processing Time in California

A man discussing to his colleague about California LLC approval timeline

The California approval process covers the review and processing by the California Secretary of State and any transit time. This is what determines the LLC approval time.

1. Expedited California LLC Processing Time Online (Same day processing + $750)

The state of California offers expedited service for online applications.

Here are the accelerated options offered by the California Secretary of State:

  • 4-hour delivery (Class A): Once the document has been precleared and approved, you may avail of the 4-hour expedited filing service that costs $500.
  • 24–hour filing service (Class C): This expedited filing option is only available online and charges a $350.00 filing fee. Online filing responses are guaranteed within 24 hours [1].
  • Same-day processing (Class B): This expedited filing option is only available online and charges a $750.00 filing fee. Responses to online filings are guaranteed by 4:00 p.m. the same day, provided the document is received online by 9:30 a.m.

2. California LLC Processing Time Online (3-5 business days)

The California LLC online filing process is easy and efficient, with approvals taking 3-5 business days.

You can download your documents as soon as it is approved, so there's no need to wait for an additional transit time from the Secretary of State.

3. Non-Expedited California LLC Processing Time By Mail (3-5 business days)

Applications may take 3 to 5 business days of processing time with the Secretary of State’s office. The procedure will be completed in 2 to 3 weeks, which includes mail time.

4. California LLC Processing Time In Person (5 business days)

You can drop off your LLC Articles of Organization at the Secretary of State’s regional office. This is only allowed during regular business hours at Sacramento and California Regional offices [2].

The application takes an average of 5 business days to be approved and is subject to an additional $15 counter-drop-off fee.

Dropped-off documents will receive priority processing over mail-in filings, except during State holidays.

Factors Influencing The Formation Timeline Of California LLCs

A person using a laptop with coworkers on the side

Several reasons can affect the formation timeline of California LLCS. These include the following:

  • Requirement issues: Failure to comply with state requirements and guidelines will prolong the LLC approval time. The documents must be complete and in order. 
  • Time of the year: Because there are so many business filings towards the end of the fiscal and calendar years, the processing period for all requests takes longer. That’s why I advise clients to avoid filing during busy seasons [3]. 
  • Processing errors: Scheduled website maintenance, equipment malfunction, and network downtime will affect the processing time. 

Related Articles:


Can a Registered Agent Expedite the Process of Forming an LLC in California?

A registered agent cannot expedite the process of forming an LLC in California since the Secretary of State determines the approval and processing times.

Where Can I Check the Status of My California LLC Formation During the Processing Period?

You can check the status of your California LLC formation during the processing period through the online business search portal.



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