Form a Business
Form/Register a business entity in California. Depending on the business, there can be multiple steps and required forms. The Secretary of State website can help.
General Information: 916-653-6814
Frequently Asked Questions
Please refer to our Name Availability webpage for complete information and request forms.
- A request to check for the availability of a corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership name can be submitted by mail to the Secretary of State's Sacramento office. Corporation, limited liability company and limited partnership names can be checked by phone upon establishing a prepaid account with the Secretary of State.
- A request to reserve a corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership name can be submitted by mail or dropped off at the counter at the Secretary of State's Sacramento office. A request to reserve a corporation name can also be submitted in person to the Secretary of State's Los Angeles regional office. Corporation and limited liability company names can be reserved by phone upon establishing a prepaid account with the Secretary of State.
Online requests to check or reserve a corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership name are not available at this time.
A business entity can be formed in California by filing the applicable document or form (as described below) with the Secretary of State. The document samples and forms described below are available on our Forms, Samples and Fees webpage. Please refer to the applicable document sample or form for complete filing instructions, fees, any additional requirements and relevant statutory filing provisions:
- Corporation: File Articles of Incorporation. The following Articles of Incorporation forms for the most common types of corporations are provided. The forms have been drafted to meet the minimum statutory requirements. You can either use the form or compose your own statutorily compliant document:
- Articles of Incorporation of a General Stock Corporation (Form ARTS–GS)
- Articles of Incorporation of a Close Corporation (Form ARTS–CL)
- Articles of Incorporation of a Professional Corporation (Form ARTS–PC)
- Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporation (Form ARTS–MU)
- Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation (Form ARTS–PB–501(c)(3))
- Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Religious Corporation (Form ARTS–RE)
- Articles of Incorporation of a Common Interest Development Association (Form ARTS–CID)
- Limited Liability Company: File Articles of Organization (Form LLC–1).
- Limited Partnership: File a Certificate of Limited Partnership (Form LP–1).
- General Partnership: File a Statement of Partnership Authority (Form GP–1). Filing Form GP–1 is permissive. Note: A general partnership may record its partnership agreement at the county recorder's office in the county where the general partnership is located.
- Limited Liability Partnership: Once a general partnership, file an Application to Register a Limited Liability Partnership (Form LLP–1).
To ensure that all issues are considered and addressed appropriately, you should consult with private legal counsel prior to submitting formation documents to the Secretary of State.
Note: Many corporation, limited liability company and limited partnership documents are returned for correction without being filed because of name issues, errors, omissions or misstatements contained in the proposed filings submitted to this office. Filing tips have been drafted to assist with meeting the minimum filing requirements of the California Corporations Code.
Once the business entity is formed or registered with the California Secretary of State it must obtain the necessary licenses and/or permits.
The Secretary of State does not issue licenses or permits for business entities. Please refer to the CalGold (California Government: On–Line to Desktops) website for information about business license/permit requirements. CalGold's online database provides links and contact information to agencies that administer and issue business licenses, permits and registration requirements from all levels of government.