California Foreign LLC – Qualification and Registration

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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.

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

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

Whether you want to expand your business to California or you already operate in the state, it is important to know how much it costs to register a foreign LLC in California. The California LLC Act requires foreign companies to register if they engage in business in California. If your company has not registered, you could be at risk of being hit with back taxes or penalties. You can get information on how much it costs to register a foreign company in California from the Franchise Tax Board. However, there are many factors that should be taken into account when determining how much it costs to register a foreign entity.

To register a foreign LLC in California, you must first apply for a Foreign Qualification. This is a document issued by the Secretary of State that grants the company permission to conduct business in California. You will need to obtain this document before you can apply for business licenses and hire employees. You can do this by filing a California LLC-5 form with the state. You can also file this document online or in person.

During the application process, you will need to provide information about your company such as the name, address, principal office, mailing address, registered agent, and date of registration. The foreign qualification process will typically take between one and two months to complete. After the qualification process is complete, you will need to file your annual report. You can do this online, or you can go to the California Secretary of State’s office to file in person. In either case, you will be charged a small fee. The fee can vary from $50 to $300 per year. You can also pay the fee in person, by mail, or by credit card. You will be issued a certified copy of your document upon payment.

You can also reserve the name of your company before registering it. The name you choose will be used in California. If you choose to reserve the name, the fee will be $10. You can also reserve the name for up to 60 days.

You will also need to register a California Statutory Agent. This agent will be responsible for receiving official documents for your company and forwarding them to your clients. You can choose to have an individual, corporation, or a group of individuals act as your agent. The statute states that the agent must have a street address in the state and be available to accept service of process during regular business hours. If the agent does not have a street address, the agent must file a California Statutory Agent Certificate.

When you register your foreign LLC in California, you will also be required to pay a Business Privilege Tax. This tax will be paid each year to the state of California. If your LLC fails to register for this tax, you may be required to pay a penalty of $2,000 per taxable year. If you register for this tax within 60 days of registering, you will not be subject to the penalty.


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.

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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