How to File Articles of Incorporation in California

By Elizabeth Stock

To register your new corporation with the state of California, you must file the articles of incorporation with the California Secretary of State’s office. The articles of incorporation contain basic information about your corporation, which include the corporation’s address and the name of the agent who will receive legal documents on behalf of the corporation. The procedure to file articles of incorporation with the state of California is straightforward, and after you submit the necessary paperwork, the state will either approve or deny your application.

Step 1

Determine whether the new corporation’s proposed name is available. According to the California SOS’s office, a name may be used by the new corporation as long as the name -- or one similar to the desired name -- does not already exist in the California SOS’s records. In addition, the SOS asks that the proposed name not be misleading to the general public. A corporation can reserve a name for 60 days. To check the availability of a name with the SOS’s office, complete and mail the Name Availability Inquiry Letter. The letter must be sent to the SOS’s office located in Sacramento.

Step 2

Choose someone to act as a registered agent for the corporation. The registered agent is the person who will accept service of process for the corporation if the corporation is sued. The corporation can only list one agent. To act as a registered agent, the individual must live in the state of California and be willing to accept legal documents on the corporation’s behalf. The corporation must provide the agent’s street address within the state. Another corporation may also serve as registered agent for service of process.

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Step 3

Locate and download the articles of incorporation template on the California SOS’s website. There are a variety of articles of incorporation forms available online, depending on the structure of your corporation.

Step 4

Complete the form, providing as much information as you can. The form will ask you to provide information about the corporation, including the corporate name and the corporation’s purpose. You will also need to include information about the agent for service of process and the number of shares the corporation can issue. Each incorporator must sign the form before it can be filed with the SOS’s office.

Step 5

File the articles of incorporation form with the California SOS’s office and pay the applicable fee. The form can be dropped off in person at the SOS’s office or you can file the form by mail. The filing fee will vary according to the type of business entity you create. You can pay the filing fee by check or money order. If you drop off the form in person, you may be required to pay an additional service fee as well.

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How Do I Become Incorporated in California?


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