How to Form a Corporation in California | CA Secretary of State

1500 11th street 3rd floor sacramento ca 95814

1. Choose a Corporate Name

Your corporation's name must not be the same as, or too similar to, an existing name on the California Secretary of State's records, or misleading to the public. The corporation's name may--but need not--include the words "Corporation," "Incorporated," or "Limited" (or an abbreviation of one of those words).

A free preliminary check of the availability of a name can be requested by mailing a completed Name Availability Inquiry Letter to the California Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento. Email or online inquiries are not accepted.

You can reserve a name for 60 days by filing a Name Reservation Request Form with the Secretary of State and paying a $10 fee. The form must be filed by mail or in person.

Our firm provides corporation/LLC name availability searches and reservations.

2. Prepare and File Articles of Incorporation

Your corporation is legally created by filing Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State. The articles must include the corporate name; its purpose; the name and street address of an agent for service of process (not a post office box address); and the number of shares the corporation is authorized to issue. All articles must include the corporation's street address and mailing address. The filing fee is $100. The articles must be filed by postal mail or in person.

Select the link below that is associated with your business type to review our more in-depth instructions on this procedure.

Every Foreign (out of state) Corporation that conducts business in California must register their business with the California Secretary of State.  Your application to register your foreign corporation must include a certificate of good standing from the state your Corporation is registered in.  Do you need a copy of your Certificate of Good Standing?  Our firm can obtain your Certificate of Good Standing.

Our firm will hand deliver and file your documents to the Sacramento Secretary of State 1500 11th street 3rd floor Sacramento Ca 95814.  Click "Get It Filed" for instructions.

3. Appoint a Registered Agent

Every California corporation must have an agent for service of process in the state. This is an individual or corporation that agrees to accept legal papers on the corporation's behalf if it is sued. A corporation may not service as its own agent for service of process. The agent should agree to accept service of process on your corporation's behalf prior to designation.

The agent may be: (1) an individual who resides in California, or (2) a corporate agent that has filed with the Secretary of State a Certificate Pursuant to Section 1505, California Corporations Code. The agent must have a physical street address in California, not a post office box. Small corporations typically name a director or officer to serve as the initial agent. A different agent can always be named later.

The Secretary of State maintains a list of private service companies that can act as the agent for service of process; however, not all such companies are on the list.  Our firm is a 1505 registered agent and we provide Resident Agent Services.


Here are some sample agreements that I found online.  You may be able to use these to form your entity.

  • Corporate Bylaw
  • LLC Operating Agreement
  • Partnership Agreement