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6 Best LLC Formation Services in California in 2024

Suzanne Stewart Suzanne StewartFinance Specialist November 21, 2023
November 21, 2023
Are you, as the song goes, “California Dreamin'” of starting a business in the Golden State? Whether you currently live in California or plan to expand your existing out-of-state Limited Liability Company (LLC) there, you may be wondering just who can help you make that dream come true. We’ve got your answer here today with one of these six top LLC formation services.

I’ve tested each of these companies carefully and scored them based on how well they meet some pretty exacting criteria in four different categories. All six exceeded my expectations in many instances and provide quality, expert services to new and existing LLC owners.

All of them can help you get your California dream business off the ground quickly and efficiently. And all of them have something special or unique that sets them apart from the rest. My top recommendation, ZenBusiness, is the best all-around provider, capable of serving nearly any type and size of company. Read on to find out if ZenBusiness or one of the others is the best choice to make your California dream come true.

Short on Time? These Are The Best LLC Formation Services in California in 2024

  1. ZenBusinessWide range of plans and free features to suit any size or type of business or budget, as well as a nice suite of paid add-ons.
  2. Tailor BrandsOffers creative services as well as LLC formation to help you build your brand quickly and easily.
  3. Swyft Filings The best choice for new business owners, providing customized personal support every step of the way.

See 3 More Great Options | Comparison Table

What We Look For in LLC Formation Services in California

We help you make your best decision by giving you more than the basic facts. We base our opinions of LLC formation services on four basic criteria. We then compare how well each service provider meets or exceeds those criteria to create our score and our list of top LLC formation services in California. Those criteria are:
  • Features. Since you can actually register an LLC on your own, we had to take into consideration what features each company offers in addition to the basic filing of your foundational paperwork. Which services, for example, included a Registered Agent and/or Employer Identification Number (EIN) in their basic plan?
  • Ease of use. Whether you’re a new owner just beginning your business venture or an experienced LLC owner looking to expand in California, you’ll appreciate an LLC formation service that doesn’t take an advanced university degree to use. The three main aspects we evaluate are the actual company website, the service ordering process, and the client dashboard or account management interface.
  • Plans and pricing. We looked beyond the simple bottom line – which in many cases is free – to uncover more details. What services do you get for the price you pay? And what about upsells, add-ons, and renewal fees?
  • Support. We personally evaluate the customer support teams of each service provider we review for quality, professionalism, and availability. We call, chat, send emails, and fill out support tickets whenever we can. We also look at online resources such as blogs, knowledge bases, and help centers. In short, if they can’t help us in a timely, professional manner, they probably won’t be able to help you, either.
Important note: The State of California charges a fee to register a business. Many service providers offer a “free” LLC formation plan that doesn’t charge anything extra for the provider’s assistance in filing your paperwork. You will still have to pay California’s required fees if you choose to use one of these free formation packages.

ZenBusiness LLC formation services for California
ZenBusiness LLC formation services are perfect for nearly any business
Not every service provider can provide for every business’s needs, but ZenBusiness comes close. Whether you’re starting a side hustle or the next Fortune 500 corporation, ZenBusiness most likely has a value-packed plan for you. It’s the features ZenBusiness doesn’t charge for, though, that make it a standout in our opinion.

Worry-Free Compliance is perhaps ZenBusiness’ most valuable freebie. California requires all businesses to file a Statement of Information every two years and pay an annual franchise tax to remain compliant with state laws. With the Worry-Free Compliance program from ZenBusiness, you’ll receive automated reminders for these, ensuring your business stays in business.

While the ZenBusiness Starter plan is one of those state-fee-only “free” plans, and you get the above goodies with it, we’ve found that the Pro plan is the best for LLC owners in California. It includes an Operating Agreement, which is mandatory for all California LLCs. Having the pros at ZenBusiness complete this important required document, as well as file for your EIN with the IRS, is well worth the price of the plan.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one thing regarding ZenBusiness. Our expert reviewer found that its support system could use some improvements. Live chat was a bit glitchy to use, while email support was found to be “underwhelming” with nearly a full day between question and response. All in all, ZenBusiness support is considered good, but it could be better.

Features

  • Proprietary website builder and email services. These make ZenBusiness one of just a few top LLC formation services in California to offer these services (and without third-party involvement, too). One drawback, however, is that the website builder can’t be used to create a full-service e-commerce store.
  • Mobile app. ZenBusiness’ Android and iOS apps ensure you can access your account from anywhere, at any time.
  • Beginner-friendly signup process and account dashboard. So you can take advantage of your ZenBusiness features quickly and easily.
  • Registered Agent service and other valuable paid add-ons. Get extra help to create the customized services your business needs.
Read our comprehensive ZenBusiness review for more info.
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 1 – 5 days
Customer support channels Phone, live chat, email
Starting at (+ state fees) $0

Tailor Brands LLC formation services for California
Register your LLC and so much more with Tailor Brands’ creative marketing services.
Tailor Brands’ main selling point is its range of creative services, helping you start marketing and building a social media presence right from the start. You can get graphic design, website development, social media tools, and marketing materials in addition to LLC formation services. Many of these are paid add-ons, however, unless you purchase the top-tier Elite plan.

Like ZenBusiness, Tailor Brands offers a “free” plan, but for California LLC owners, we suggest you look at their Essential plan. It includes your mandatory Operating Agreement, as well as annual compliance reminders and expedited filing times. You’ll receive access to Tailor Brands’ free logo creation tool, which provides mockups of business cards, websites, branded merchandise, and social media posts.

As I noted, many of Tailor Brands’ best features cost extra, but if you consider it a one-stop shop, you can minimize the number of outside services your business uses. Tailor Brands offers EIN registration, Registered Agent services, and a whole host of other business-related services, too.

Features

  • Domain registration and website builder. You can get your business online while you wait for your LLC paperwork to be completed.
  • Local permit application service. The service researches what state and local permits or licenses you might need in addition to your LLC registration.
  • The Finance Manager program. This paid add-on similar to ZenBusiness Money lets you track income, expenses, mileage, invoicing, and taxes.
  • Website design services. You can have Tailor Brands’ design professionals to build the website your business needs for reasonable prices.
For more information, read our detailed Tailor Brands review.
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 2 days
Customer support channels Chatbot, email, phone, online resources
Starting at (+ state fees) $0

Swyft Filings LLC formation services for California
Swyft Filings’ three-step process makes registering your LLC quick, easy, and hassle-free
When you’re trying to avoid dealing with messy, complicated paperwork by finding an LLC formation service to do it for you, the last thing you want is a messy, complicated process to hire one. Swyft Filings requires the bare minimum of information from you and then takes care of all the rest.

Swyft Filings has possibly the most user-friendly website and application process of any LLC formation service. This makes it ideal for first-time California LLC owners who are perhaps a bit stressed about “getting it all right” and filing their formation paperwork without mishaps. You can be signed up in mere minutes, and just as with their website and ordering process, the client dashboard is a breeze to use, as well.

Perhaps the best feature for new business owners is Swyft Filings’ personalized support system. You’ll be assigned an agent who gets to know you and your business, so that whenever you need help, it’ll be more like calling on a friend, rather than a stranger you’ve never met.

Features

  • Business Licensing Package. A paid add-on that provides you with a list of all required state and local permits or licenses, the documents to apply for them, and the information on where you need to send them.
  • A 14-day free trial of ComplianceGuard. The Swyft Filings’ program helps you maintain compliance with California’s annual requirements. You can choose to purchase the program after your trial ends.
  • Business documentation preparation service. So you can get a banking resolution or organizational meeting minutes if you need them.
  • Brand-building extras. These include a free domain name for a year with the top-tier plan and add-on paid logo creation services to help you establish your California LLC’s identity.
Read our expert Swyft Filings review for more details.
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time Same day
Customer support channels Chatbot, email, phone, online resources
Starting at (+ state fees) $0

LegalZoom LLC formation services for California
Create just the LLC formation package your LLC needs with LegalZoom
When you need more than or something different from other providers’ prepackaged plans, LegalZoom may be the LLC formation for your California business. That’s because LegalZoom gives you the option to create your own customized package of services. You can get exactly what you want and need for your LLC without paying for things you don’t. (LegalZoom does offer premade plans, too. Its real value, however, lies in its customizability.)

LegalZoom is also perfect for businesses that may need frequent legal help, such as contract reviews or copyright issues. It offers two versions of legal help from real lawyers. The first is one-off help and the second is its Business Advisory Plan. The Business Advisory Plan is a yearly subscription that offers “on call” legal help for a heavily discounted fee when compared to the one-off service.

A paid feature many California LLC owners may find beneficial is the Total Compliance program. Total Compliance files your biennial Statement of Information and reminds you of important dates for filing taxes. It also tracks and then alerts you to other important issues such as holding required meetings, creating or changing corporate resolutions, and other periodic administrative tasks.

Features

  • Optional expedited filing. Shorten your filing time from 2 or 3 weeks to 1 to 5 days, getting you up and running faster.
  • Flexible payment options. You can stretch your registration fees over the course of three months rather than all at once.
  • Tax assistance. For a monthly fee, you can get business tax help from certified professionals.
  • A free Wix website. This is included with LegalZoom’s paid plans.
Our expert LegalZoom review has more information about this LLC formation service.
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 1 – 5 days
Customer support channels phone, live chat, contact form
Starting at (+ state fees) $0

Northwest Registered Agent LLC formation services for California
Northwest Registered Agent offers personalized service and serious data protection
Business can seem so impersonal, especially when dealing with online firms. And yet, your new California LLC is very personal to you. It’s a dream come true in many instances. Enter Northwest Registered Agent, who puts the personal touch on all it does. Northwest Registered Agent has over 900 Corporate Guides working out of real offices in every state and the District of Columbia.

When you hire Northwest Registered Agent as your LLC formation provider, you’ll be assigned one of these Corporate Guides. They will be a California resident, working from an office somewhere in the state. They will serve as your LLC’s Registered Agent. They will use their office’s address and Northwest Registered Agent’s payment info in place of yours whenever possible, all to protect your data’s privacy.

In a further effort to protect your privacy, Northwest Registered Agent uses no outside or third-party entities. They have an in-house IT team, customer service team, their own servers, and legal teams, too. Northwest Registered Agent will never sell your data, and unlike other service providers, you don’t have to go through the bother of specifically asking them not to do so.

One other thing that makes Northwest Registered Agent unique is that it offers you three choices, but only one paid LLC formation plan. There’s a DIY option, where you are supplied with the required forms and complete and file them yourself. There’s a “walkthrough” plan where you get assistance from the company, an account dashboard, and then left to do the work yourself. And then, of course, there’s a paid plan where Northwest Registered Agent does it all for you.

Features

  • Same-day processing. Your Corporate Guide is given your information and begins working on your paperwork almost as soon as your payment is complete.
  • Operating Agreement included at no extra charge. This supplies you with that all-important document for your California LLC at no extra charge.
  • Virtual office, mail forwarding, and VoIP services. These add another layer of privacy between you and the general public.
  • Yearly compliance services. You can add customized compliance services for California to your plan during checkout so that your annual franchise and filing fees are paid in advance.
Read our expert Northwest Registered Agent review for more details.
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time Same day
Customer support channels phone, live chat, email
Starting at (+ state fees) $39.00

6. BusinessAnywhere: Best California LLC Formation Service for Non-US Citizens, Expats, and Digital Nomads

BusinessAnywhere's LLC formation services for California
BusinessAnywhere can help you set up your California LLC no matter where you live
Maybe you’re doing your California dreamin’ from somewhere other than California, or even in the US. Then BusinessAnywhere is the LLC formation service for you. If you’re a non-US resident, digital nomad, or expat, BusinessAnywhere gives you an opportunity to run your business from, well, anywhere.

The company offers three LLC formation packages, all of which include a year of Registered Agent services and compliance reminders. BusinessAnywhere has Registered Agents in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, ensuring that your California LLC will be professionally represented. And it’ll be nice knowing that you won’t have to worry about California’s compliance requirements, either.

Each of BusinessAnywhere’s LLC formation plans also offers you some form of your required Operating Agreement. The entry-level plan provides you with a template so you can create your own. The two higher-tier plans include a customized Operating Agreement created specifically for your California business.

Features

  • Virtual mailbox service. It receives your mail at a chosen US location and then scans it so you can access it electronically, cutting down on the need for a physical US address for your LLC.
  • Worldwide package and mail forwarding. You never have to miss receiving an important delivery or piece of correspondence that needs personal and not digital attention.
  • E-notary service. Have important papers notarized nearly any time, from anywhere, without the need for access to a local official.
  • Mobile-ready registration form. Register your LLC from anywhere, on any device, freeing you from being tied to a laptop or office.
Our expert BusinessAnywhere review can provide you with more information.
Expedited option?
Fastest available LLC filing time 2 – 3 business days
Customer support channels phone, live chat, ticket system, email
Starting at (+ state fees) $37.00

Start Your California LLC Quickly and Easily

Any of the service providers in our review would be an excellent choice to assist you with starting an LLC in California. Our top three recommendations, however, all serve different needs.

If you simply need a good all-around LLC formation service and are working on a budget, ZenBusiness is the best choice for you. ZenBusiness offers great services for any LLC owner, and at inexpensive prices, too.

On the other hand, if you want more than just LLC formation help, Tailor Brands’ brand-building tools and services may be what you’re looking for. Create everything from your LLC’s logo to your first company website with Tailor Brands.

Swyft Filings is the best choice for new business owners just beginning their LLC ownership path. From its user-friendly website to the personalized custom support system, Swyft Filings makes starting a California LLC worry-free and easy.

Here’s a handy table that compares all six of our top LLC formation service providers. Use it to find the perfect choice for starting your LLC in California.
Standout Feature Fastest Filing Time? Registered Agent Service? Starting Price
ZenBusiness Best all-around services 1 – 5 days Paid add-on $0
Tailor Brands Brand building services 2 days Paid add-on $0
Swyft Filings Beginner-friendly Same day Paid add-on $0
LegalZoom Customized plans 1 – 5 days Paid add-on $0
Northwest Registered Agent Personal data privacy Same day Included with plan $39.00
Business Anywhere Non-US-resident services 2 – 3 business days Included with plan $37.00

FAQ

Do you have to pay California’s franchise fee your first year?

No. Your California LLC’s franchise fees are waived during your first year in business. However, you’ll have to pay the fee every year after to remain compliant. ZenBusiness’ Worry-free Compliance program can help you keep your LLC in good standing with the state.

How long does it take to set up an LLC In California?

The time it takes the state to process your LLC Articles of Organization paperwork can vary from a minimum of 7 business days. Using an LLC service such as Swyft Filings, which offers same-day processing, can speed up the time it takes to complete your paperwork and get it filed with the state for processing.

What do I need to start an online business in California?

While you don’t need an LLC to have an online business in California, you’ll still need a seller’s permit from the state, a business bank account, an accounting service or bookkeeper, and other personal identification, such as a Social Security number or EIN and a photo ID. Tailor Brands’ business bank account service, along with its online brand-building tools, may be the best choice for you.

Which LLC formation service is best for California business owners on a budget?

Since California requires an Operating Agreement and few LLC formation providers include that item with their “free” or even basic plans, of the providers on this list, Northwest Registered Agent stands out for including a free Operating Agreement with its plan.

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Best Overall LLC Service

Complete LLC filling starting at $0 + state fees