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Form a Corporation Online

SunDoc's California filings provide the best value: fast and economical.

  • Next Business Day Rush Filing

    No one is faster than SunDoc. We hand deliver documents to the Secretary of State in California.

    • Routine: 5 - 7 Business Days returned to you filed.
    • Rush: 2 - 3 Business Days returned to you filed
  • Experience

    Since 1999. Over 100,000 filings.
    Located in Sacramento.

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    We verify with the state. Competitors just look online which can lead to rejections.

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You can form a business in any of the 50 US states online, and we're standing by to help if you need it.

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How to Incorporate in California

California incorporation is a straightforward matter, and this article will tell you all you need to know to incorporate in the State of California. SunDoc is a business filing company located in downtown Sacramento and specializing in California incorporations. You can turn to us to handle some or all of the paperwork for you.

You don't need an attorney in order to file the paperwork needed to form a corporation, but you may well need professional consultation on numerous related matters. Nothing in this article can be construed as legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult licensed professionals to give you specific advice for your situation.


To create the corporation you file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $100. You'll need a company name that's available to use. You'll need to know which of several types of corporation you're choosing, your corporate address, and who's your Registered Agent. Also you'll need to state how many shares you're authorizing the corporation to issue, and perhaps the number of shareholders, depending on type of corporation chosen.

Outside of the filing itself, you'll need your Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS. You'll need to know who your corporate officers are, and any directors. You'll need an initial Board of Directors meeting to adopt bylaws, which are not filed with the state but kept in your own records, and to appoint officers, who are not required to be listed in the articles of incorporation.

Within 90 days of incorporating you must file your first annual Statement of Information with the state, for a filing fee of $25 - this is the document that lists officers and directors. Consult your accountant or tax attorney for advice on California taxation.


The most common type of corporation is the General Stock Corporation, with an unlimited potential number of shareholders. You may choose to be a Close Corporation, setting a limit in the articles on the number of shareholders (not to exceed 35). A Professional Corporation is mandated by California for certain professionals.

The forms supplied by California for download meet the minimum requirements of the California Corporations Code, but you can create your own to meet your specific needs. Your attorney may well draw up a document from scratch.

To illustrate: the default articles of incorporation limit the corporation to one class of shares. This can be changed in a custom document. Similarly, initial directors can be named in the articles if desired, provided that all directors are included and sign the document.

Every corporation must have three officers: President, Treasurer and Secretary. One person can fill all these roles if desired. Generally a California corporation must have a minimum of three directors, except for certain cases where no shares have been issued or the shareholders are less than three. Typically the bylaws will describe the number and limit of directors, unless the articles stipulate this.

The articles of incorporation can only be changed by filing an amendment with the state, while the bylaws are generally amended by a vote of directors and shareholders in a formal meeting. Times and methods of meetings, as well as such things as powers of directors, are set forth in the bylaws, in accordance with relevant provisions of California law. Minutes must be kept of meetings.

A Corporate Records Book is where a corporation stores bylaws, company documents, stock papers and meeting minutes. Corporate Kits are useful compilations of standard documents to run the corporation, customized to your state and including such things as stock certificates, a corporate seal embosser, meeting minutes and such. SunDoc can supply you one if you wish, see our California Corporate Kit page.

Registered Agent

Every California corporation is required to have a registered agent, a company or individual reliably available at a known address during business hours, for legal and other communications from the state. This is another service provided by SunDoc to help you outsource your company routine. For full information, see our article: What is a Registered Agent? Why Do I Need One?

Name Search

The name you submit to the state in your articles of incorporation must be clearly available for you to use in the State of California according to the records of the Secretary of State. If not, your filing will be rejected. The name cannot be such as to mislead the public in some way, or resemble another so closely as to lead to deception. There are other statutory requirements also.

Both to comply with the law, and of course for your own best branding, you should spend some effort developing your company name. You can run name searches yourself or SunDoc is able to perform a name availability check or reserve a corporation name if you are not ready to file.


You can apply for your EIN by submitting Form SS4 to the IRS, at no charge. SunDoc can apply for this on your behalf also. See our EIN page.

Next Steps

If you plan to structure your company as an S Corporation, you may want to read our article on Forming an S Corp in California. Otherwise we suggest reading our article on Forming a C Corp in California.

To talk to a live voice for immediate assistance call us toll-free during business hours at 1-888-595-2747.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a corporation formed?

You can review the requirements for your state here. You must file Articles of Incorporation with your state office, following their guidelines for procedures and documents required. Also, you need a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS. We can file your application for you to form a corporation in any state, and assist you with the EIN.

How do I incorporate my business?

See our Incorporation FAQ, and in general the steps to incorporate are:

  1. Choose the type of corporation
  2. Appoint directors
  3. Decide name and address
  4. Select a Registered Agent for legal service
  5. Create bylaws
  6. Create shares and shareholders.
  7. File the articles of incorporation with your state's Secretary of State (names may vary)
  8. Apply for a Federal Tax ID Number (EIN) with the IRS

Should I choose a C Corporation or an S Corporation?

The differences between a C Corporation and an S Corporation largely revolve around taxes that you will pay on your business income, so it's important to choose before you create your corporation. Federal taxes will apply to all states, and your state of incorporation will have its own regulations as well. See our FAQ for the pros and cons of each: C Corporation vs S Corporation.

How do I start a corporation in California?

You can file yourself with the Secretary of State's office, or we can file your paperwork for you. Everything can be done online. The procedure is straightforward, and our guide to Incorporating in California will tell you all you need to know.

How do I start a corporation in my state?

Any of the 50 states will be similar to create a new business entity such as a corporation, but details may vary from state to state, depending on state law. Choose your state here in our menu and view the requirements to get started.

Ready to Incorporate?

  • 1 Check Name Availability

    Choose three names in order of preference and we will check availability.

  • 2 Prepare or Upload your Articles

    Our online form describes all required information.

  • 3 Specify Service Level and Options

    Select a filing package or choose from the menu options.

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I initially ordered with LegalZoom for their expedited package but they said there is going to be a delay for a month! They kept giving me excuses about the backlog, blah blah blah. I had to get this LLC set up ASAP so I contacted SunDoc and they got it done for me in 24 hours! What a difference. I am very happy and will never go back to LegalZoom again. Great job SunDoc!

Chris W.
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I've been forming entities with SunDoc Filings for years. They are incredible! Mainly because of their personal touch and customer service. They actually have a human answer the phone lol. In a world of automation and AI this company remains personal and human. They get the job done quickly and effectively every single time. I will never use another company when registering my companies.

Dion McIntosh Founder DearAmyBand.com
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Kylene, Tressa & Sheila ROCK !!! We sent a name reservation last week and within 10 minutes the name reservation was completed. The next day we sent in a rush order and within 24 hours the entity was created !! Wow !! Thank You & you gals ROCK !!

Marc Vigil - Enrolled Agent - CEO - Budget Bookkeeping & Income Tax Services
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