Disclosure: We earn a commission from some partner links. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.
Supported by a rich pool of small enterprises, California is known as a startup-friendly state and eagerly welcomes newcomers on board. So, if you are about to launch your own private venture here, a single-member LLC will fit you just right.
How to Get a Single Member LLC in California: Detailed Instructions
Technically, creating a single-member LLC in California is about submitting your LLC statute to the Secretary of State and getting it approved by the regulator.
In practice, though, to open a single-member LLC in California and make it operational, you’ll have to take more steps. Simply read our guide to get your CA LLC off the ground without a problem.
Pick a Name for Your California SMLLC
The process of your single-member LLC formation in California will start with choosing a name for your future company. For the state to accept your application, the business moniker should match the following naming requirements valid in CA:
Your enterprise name should contain an entity identifier “limited liability company” either abbreviated or in full;
Avoid using words that might misguidedly associate your entity with any governmental structure (treasury, agency, department, etc.);
Skip words denominating financial and educational institutions and professions unless you have the appropriate permissive paperwork;
Humiliating, offensive, abusive words and those demonstrating intolerance are banned.
Before you file with the state, make sure the company name you target is available in CA by completing a name search on the CA government website.
Assign a Registered Agent for Your SMLLC in California
All limited liability companies in California including SMLLCs should have an agent for the service of process that is known as a registered agent in other jurisdictions.
The agent’s function is to receive legal documents, tax forms, statutory notes, government statements, regulatory requests, and other official mail on behalf of your SMLLC in CA. As such, an agent will serve as an intermediary between your business and state authorities.
A registered agent could be any permanent California resident older than 18 years or a company legally entitled to operate a business in the state. Hence, for this function, you can appoint:
Yourself or any of your close acquaintances;
Your lawyer, business advisor, accountant, tax advisor, or any other person backed by appropriate expertise;
File the Articles of Organization for Your California SMLLC
The Articles of Organization or statute is your key formation document that gives formal birth to your company, makes it operationally independent, and enforces all of the benefits offered by the limited liability company’s framework.
In California, you can file the Articles of Organization:
Online by filling out a digital Form LLC-1 on the Secretary of State’s website;
Via mail by downloading the form, completing the printed version, and forwarding it to
Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings
P.O. Box 944228
Sacramento, CA 94244
In-person by bringing the statute in a paper format to the state office at
1500 11th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Submit a Statement of Information for Your SMLLC in California
To lawfully operate within the California jurisdiction, all SMLLCs will have to register the so-called Statement of Info with the Secretary of State within a 90-period after the date of state registration.
This document should enlist:
Your newly formed company owners and managers;
Description of your business activity;
Similar to the Articles of Organization, you can file the Statement online, by mail, or in person. The filing also entails a $20 state fee.
Draft an Operating Agreement for Your SMLLC in CA
To open a single-member LLC in California, you’ll also have to register an Operating Agreement. An option in most US states, this document is mandatory in CA.
As the name suggests, the document is an operational tool. It states the ownership structure, management system, and ongoing operation procedures for the company as approved by its owner or owners.
The state doesn’t call SMLLCs to file an agreement along with the statute. However, the document should be duly executed and kept in the company’s office together with other formation papers.
Obtain an EIN for Your California SMLLC
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a business taxpayer identifier issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Single-member LLC owners in California might skip getting an EIN and use their own Social Security Number for business tax purposes. However, obtaining an EIN is important since you’ll need it to:
Set up a separate checking account for your company;
Settle certain types of taxes and state charges.
Besides, IRS issues EINs for free and it won’t take more than 5 minutes to register online.
How Much Is a Single-Member LLC in CA?
The single-member LLC cost in California is a state filing fee which varies depending on the filing method you choose. Thus:
Online and mail filings will entail only a state fee of $70;
The in-person filing also entails an additional $15 processing fee for prioritizing in-person applications over mailed ones and the total results in $85.
Notably, the final cost of your SMLLC in CA is more than just a filing fee and will also cover expenses related to any added services you might need to set your business up and running.
First Tasks After Creating a Single Member LLC in California
Though a formal registration stage is over once you get your California SMLLC filed with the state, the first post-formation steps also matter a lot for the efficient daily operation of your newly formed entity. Here are a few important tasks to complete after SMLLC registration:
Open a business bank account: By doing this, you’ll draw a distinct line between your and company funds from the start to benefit from liability protections to the best;
Get business insurance: This will protect your company from the most common business risks and damages that might potentially appear;
Obtain business licenses: With no general license requirements in place in CA, you’ll have local licensing rules to observe. Check with your local authorities for that.
Keeping Your Entity Compliant in CA
To maintain your California SMLLC in good standing with the state, you’ll have certain commitments to match on a timely basis:
Appoint and consistently maintain an agent for the service of process;
Maintain licenses relevant to your entrepreneurial activity;
Catch up with LLC tax requirements valid in the state;
File a Statement of Information with the state every two years;
Pay an $800 franchise tax each year;
Pay a California LLC fee if your gross income exceeds $250.000.
What is a single-member LLC in California?
Very much like a sole proprietorship, a single-member LLC is a company founded and possessed by a single person. Yet, in contrast to a disregarded entity, it requires state registration and offers the benefit of liability protection.
How to apply for a single-member LLC in CA?
An SMLLC is a legal entity. Yet, it’s very easy to register. You just need to submit the company statute to the Secretary of State either in digital or in paper form.
How long does it take to set up an SMLLC in California?
Normal processing time is 5 business days when filing online or via mail. Expedited filing options are also available:
- 24-hour processing at $350; - Same-day processing at $750.
What will be the tax status of my California SMLLC?
All LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities. However, you’ll have an opportunity to choose other tax classifications for your company and get it taxed as a C-Corp or S-Corp. This will depend on your business scenario and goals.
What is a CA franchise tax for LLCs?
Every limited liability company registered in California is exposed to a mandatory franchise tax payment. The tax rate is $800 and it’s to be paid annually, no matter if you do business or not and have income or not.