California Foreign LLC – Qualification and Registration

Steve Goldstein
Steve Goldstein
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Steve Goldstein runs LLCBuddy, helping entrepreneurs set up their LLCs easily. He offers clear guides, articles, and FAQs to simplify the process. His team keeps everything accurate and current, focusing on state rules, registered agents, and compliance. Steve’s passion for helping businesses grow makes LLCBuddy a go-to resource for starting and managing an LLC.

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If you already have an LLC in another state and want a California LLC, then how to start an LLC would be somewhat different. You must register as a foreign LLC. We have here a guide on how you can qualify and register for a foreign LLC in California.

Forming a California Foreign LLC

A foreign LLC does not need to be a company from another country but a business formed under the laws of another state. To start a foreign LLC in California, you need to register it with the California Secretary of State.

Step 1: Choose California Foreign LLC Name

Obtain a name reservation certificate and submit it with your foreign qualification requirements at the California Secretary of State. Your LLC’s legal name outside of California will be listed on the application, along with the name it will use in California. Take note of the requirements for naming your LLC.

Check name availability at California’s business entity names and reserve your LLC name.

Step 2: Select California Foreign LLC Registered Agent

You’ll need a registered agent to form a foreign LLC in California and take note that a California registered agent must have a local address. Here are three of the best LLC services on our list:

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Step 3: File Registration of California Foreign LLC

Fill out and submit a Foreign LLC Application for Registration form via email on their official website or by mail to P.O. Box 944260 Sacramento, CA 94244–2600.

Include the following:

  • LLC’s full legal name.
  • A fictitious name or a DBA (only if your LLC’s legal name is not available); Attach a statement of adoption of the fictitious name signed by all LLC members.
  • LLC’s principal office and mailing addresses.
  • LLC formation state and date.
  • Registered agent’s name and address in California.
  • Date when your LLC will start operations in California.
  • Credit card information on the last page of the form for the $70 application fee.

The LLC cost in California, even for foreign LLCs, will differ between online filing and by mail. Also, read about what’s the major points in the discussion on domestic vs international (foreign) LLCs in California.

Step 4: Determine How Your California Foreign LLC is taxed

Foreign LLCs are also subjected to the California Business Privilege Tax, and they must file LLC annual reports each year.

Note that forming a foreign LLC would be good for your business as you can legally operate in a different state, thus reaching a larger market and opening more opportunities for higher profit.

Steps to Filing a California Foreign LLC Online

Time needed: 10 minutes

To register a foreign LLC in California, the business has to be registered under the Secretary of State, California. There are several ways to register the California Foreign LLC, by mail, drop-off the forms to counter and online. To register a foreign LLC in California online, go to the official online service website.

  1. Go to the official website of California Secretary of State Online Services

    You will get the information regarding the filing fees and franchise tax to be paid to start a foreign LLC in California.

  2. Hit the “Start” button

    After you hit the “Start” button, you will be directed to the next Privacy and Terms page. Read the Privacy Warning carefully before you accept the terms and conditions. Hit the ‘I Accept’ button and move on.

  3. Add your LLC name and identifier.

    You will be directed to the registration form page on the website. There are 7 pages to fill up by the LLC. The first page is about the purpose of the LLC.

  4. Add your Business address.

    On the next page, you will have to enter the information about your business address. Enter the initial and mailing address. Make sure that the address is correct and from California.

  5. Registered Agent

    Proceed to the next page, where you will have to enter the details of ‘Service of Process.’ Whether your agent is an individual or a corporation, details should be given under the specific option.

  6. Enter Management Structure

    On the next page, specify your Management, whether your LLC is a single-member or multiple-members.

  7. Organizer Information

    The next page is about the Organizer of your LLC. Enter the name of the organizer, address, and pin code. Also, specify the date of filing.

  8. Review your application

    Once this page is done, the next page will be the review page. Review carefully what information you have entered. If there is anything you want to include or change, you can go back and edit the form.

  9. Payment

    Finally, you will be landed on the Payment page. Enter the payment amount, method, and other information. Hit the submit button to complete the payment and registration process.

    These are the process of filing a Foreign LLC in California online.

It is convenient plus easy to file for the foreign LLC if you are doing it online. The steps are straightforward, and that’s why it’s possible to go along with the steps and form a foreign LLC in California.

After Forming California Foreign LLC

Here are added things you need to accomplish after forming your California Foreign LLC.

  1. Obtain Business Licenses. Find the business licenses you’ll need using the Business License Search.
  2. File LLC annual reports and Business Privilege Tax.
  3. Pay State Taxes like sales tax; you’ll need an EIN for your LLC.


What is a foreign LLC in California?

If your LLC is formed under the laws of another state, it is referred to as a foreign LLC in California.

Do I need a foreign LLC?

Businesses incorporated outside of the state where they operate must have “foreign qualifications” issued in the other states.

What is the main difference between domestic and foreign LLC?

A domestic LLC is a company registered in California as an LLC. The entity type that has a physical presence in another state is a foreign LLC.

How Much Does It Cost to Register a Foreign LLC in California

To register as a foreign LLC in California, you can file through mail by paying a filing amount of $70 to the California Secretary of State

The cost of registering a foreign LLC in California can vary depending on several factors. Some of the main components that may impact the total cost include the filing fees, name reservation fees, registered agent fees, publication costs, and any additional expenses that may arise during the registration process.

One of the first costs to consider when registering a foreign LLC in California is the filing fees. These fees are typically paid to the Secretary of State’s office and can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on various factors such as the type of entity, the number of members, and the services required. It is essential for business owners to research and understand these fees before proceeding with the registration process to avoid any surprises.

Another crucial cost to consider is the name reservation fee. Before registering a foreign LLC in California, it may be necessary to reserve the desired company name to ensure that it is available for use. This process usually incurs a fee and must be completed before submitting any official registration documents to the state.

Additionally, hiring a registered agent is often a requirement when registering a foreign LLC in California. A registered agent is a designated individual or entity responsible for accepting legal documents and official correspondence on behalf of the company. The cost of hiring a registered agent can vary depending on the level of services required and the provider chosen.

Publication costs are another expense that business owners must factor into their budget when registering a foreign LLC in California. Some counties in the state require newly formed LLCs to publish a notice of intent to form the company in a local newspaper. This requirement can add to the overall cost of registration and may vary depending on the publication rates in the chosen county.

Finally, there may be additional expenses that arise during the registration process, such as legal fees, postage costs, and any other miscellaneous charges. It is essential for business owners to budget accordingly and anticipate these potential expenses to avoid any financial strain or delays in the registration process.

In conclusion, registering a foreign LLC in California involves several costs that business owners must consider before embarking on the process. By understanding and planning for these expenses upfront, entrepreneurs can navigate the registration process more effectively and ensure a smooth transition into the California market.

In Conclusion

Starting a foreign LLC in California does not require a lot of documentation or tasks. However, it is always good to seek help from a professional when it comes to running your business. Get a professional registered agent and form your foreign LLC anywhere without a hassle.

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