Finding the best LLC formation service in California is very important.
The right LLC service will help your business get started within no time and will make sure all your official documents are well-drafted and submitted to the California Secretary of State. They will also offer compliance alerts so that your business doesn’t miss important filing deadlines.
The wrong LLC service will hold up your business setup process for weeks, sometimes even months, resulting in you not being able to carry out your daily business activities due to the lack of proper licenses.
I have investigated the 11 best LLC formation services in California through a 4-stage, 5-factor process. Below are the results of my analysis.
1. ZenBusiness – 9.13/10 (Best Overall LLC Service)
ZenBusiness is my #1 choice for the best LLC formation service in California because of the great value of money that they provide.
Their $49 (inclusive of state fees) Starter Package offers a wide range of services including a business name and address in the state, assistance with drafting and filing your Certificate of Organization with the California Secretary of State, assistance with your operating agreement, issuance of compliance alerts so you don’t miss important filing deadlines, an online portal to store your documents, a free consultation with their in-house accounting team and a full year of their registered agent service.
If you need an Employer Identification Number, VIP processing or a banking resolution, you can upgrade to their $199 Pro Package. They also have a $299 Premium Package that offers all these services and adds a business domain name and customized website.
Add in their average 4.7/5 rating across 4,500 online reviews and a customer support team that is willing to walk you through your business setup process and you have an LLC formation service that is dependable.
The only shortcoming with ZenBusiness’s services is that they don’t offer a company seal with any of their packages. However, this is only a minor issue as you can get a company seal online for around $15.
ZenBusiness is my #1 choice for the best LLC formation service in California because for just $49 they will provide every service you need to establish your business.
They will save you the time and energy required to complete the often puzzling process of filing your documents with the Secretary of State’s office with an easy-to-use website and a customer support team that is available to walk you through the setup process.
Their $199 Pro Package helps you obtain an EIN and a banking solution while their $299 Premium Package provides your business with a website and domain name.
If you need an LLC formation service that is hassle-free and provides great value for your money, head over to ZenBusiness today.
2. Northwest Registered Agent – 8.20/10 (Best Premium LLC Service)
Northwest Registered Agent is my #2 overall and #1 best premium LLC formation service in the state of California because of their exceptional customer support. Despite not being as cheap as ZenBusiness, their Corporate Guides (that’s what they call their customer support team) will help you set up your LLC and they will be available to offer credible business advice during your business journey.
Northwest Registered Agent will provide everything your business needs to get started. They will assist you with drafting and filing your Articles of Organization, provide a couple of document templates that will ensure your business is set up correctly and, they’ll also help you draft your operating agreement.
But perhaps the one service that sets aside Northwest Registered Agent from other LLC formation services on this list is their customer support.
Most companies often outsource their customer support to call centers in foreign developing countries that are staffed with people who are not aware of the process of starting and running a business in the US.
Things are very different with Northwest Registered Agent. Their US-based Corporate Guides are a team of former lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, and small business owners with years of experience between them on how to run a business in California.
Apart from guiding you through your business setup process, they will always be available to provide advice when you come across challenges during your business journey.
This type of business advice usually costs upwards of $5,000 from select business advisors, therefore, having it included as part of their LLC formation service (at a reasonable price) is a major win.
There are two issues I came across while reviewing Northwest Registered Agent’s services. First is the cost of their services, at $225 (inclusive of state fees, they are significantly more expensive than ZenBusiness.
The second problem is that they don’t provide an accounting session as part of their offering so you’ll have to hire a financial advisor to assist you with your accounting issues.
Northwest Registered Agent is my first choice for the best premium LLC formation service in California because of their first-rate customer support team which is made up of former lawyers, accountants, and small business owners who are always available to assist you when business challenges arise.
If you are willing to part with $225 for great customer support, visit Northwest Registered Agent today.
3. IncFile – 7.15/10 (Best Budget LLC Service)
IncFile is #3 on my list and my best pick for budget LLC formation service in California. They charge $0 for their basic services. But, as you’ll learn, there's a catch.
The one thing that sets aside Incfile from most LLC services on this list is that for $0 they will help you file your Certificate of Organization with the California Secretary of State and, on top of that, they will provide a free registered agent service for your first year in business which saves you about $99.
IncFile only has two offerings on their free basic package. If you need online document storage, compliance alerts, or a business tax consultation, you must upgrade to their $169 Gold Package.
Considering ZenBusiness charges $49 for these basic LLC services, IncFile’s Gold Package doesn’t offer good value for your money.
If you are running on a tight budget and all you need is your Certificate of Organization filed, then the IncFile is a good option for you, other than that, you are better off with ZenBusiness as the value and cost of their services outweighs IncFile’s $149 (inclusive of state fees) Gold package.
To read more about IncFile’s services, visit their website today.
4. Swyft Filings
Swift Filings is an LLC service that charges $49 to draft and file your Certificate of Organization on your behalf, provide an online document storage portal, offer a 30-min business tax consultation, and also gives you a free business domain name for 1 year.
The only reason they are 4th on my list is that they don’t offer a free year of their registered agent service. To get this service, you need to sign up for their $149 (inclusive of state fees) package. In contrast, for $100 less, you can get a free year of registered agent service with ZenBusines.
However, Swyft Filings is still a reliable and reputable LLC formation service that will get you started in the business world without any hiccups.
If you'd like to know more about Swyft Filings, check out my Swyft Filings review.
5. Harbor Compliance
Harbor Compliance is my 5th overall but 2nd best premium LLC service in California because of their great customer support.
Their basic service will assist you to prepare and file your Articles of Organization, assist you with obtaining an EIN, provide an operating agreement template and they will even throw in a free year of their registered agent service.
Their real value, however, lies with their customer support. Unlike Northwest Registered Agent, Harbor Compliance connects you with a personal advisor who’ll guide you through the entire setup process. You don't have to send an anonymous email or call a hotline.
However, Harbor Compliance’s service is not cheap. Their Formation Package is $399 while their Compliance Package goes for $799. This makes them nearly double the cost of Northwest Registered Agent and eight times the cost of ZenBusiness.
If you need an LLC service that will provide a personal guide to walk you through your LLC setup process and you are willing to pay the extra cost, head over to Harbor Compliance today.
MyCompanyWorks offers a $79 basic package that includes assistance with your operating agreement, filing your Certificate of Formation on your behalf, an online portal to store your documents, and compliance alerts so you don’t miss important filing deadlines.
Add on their good customer support service and an average rating of 4.9/5 across 3,500 online reviews and you can’t really go wrong with them.
But still, there is the issue of cost. To access their 1-year registered agent service, you’ll need to purchase their $279 package. Considering ZenBusiness offers a free year of their registered agent service in their $49 package, MyCompanyworks does not represent good value for money.
7. Inc Authority
Inc Authority tries to copy IncFile’s pricing strategy with their $0 basic package. That’s right, they charge nothing for filing your Certificate of Organization, but if you need any other service such as an EIN, an operating agreement, or even a company seal you will have to upgrade to their $399 package. To get a year’s worth of their registered agent service, you’ll need to upgrade to their $799.
If you are running out of money and all you need is to file your Certificate of Organization you are better off choosing IncFile as they are more reliable.
8. Incorporate Fast
Incorporate Fast charges $99 (inclusive of state fees) for their basic package which gets you assistance with your operating agreement, assistance with filing your Certificate of Organization, a couple of sample document templates to help with your signup process, and a year’s worth of their registered agent service.
The most important feature of Incorporate Fast is that they process every new business filing the same day they receive it.
BizFilings is an LLC service that charges $99 for their basic package which includes assistance in filing your Certificate of Organization, compliance alerts, and a free year of their registered agent service. However, they don’t provide an online document storage portal, a business tax assessment, or assistance with your operating agreement. Considering the price they charge for their LLC services, you don’t get much value for your money.
IncNow is the last LLC service on this list that offers a free year of their registered agent service. The remaining LLC services either don’t offer it or they’ve included it in one of their more expensive packages.
The problem with IncNow is that they only incorporate businesses in Delaware and, on top of that, if you need assistance with drafting your operating agreement you need to upgrade to their $208 package.
11. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is an online legal services provider that also provides basic LLC formation services. For $99 (inclusive of state filing fees) they’ll file your Articles of Organization and they’ll also offer an online portal to store important documents.
Considering that ZenBusiness charges $49 for their basic services, you’ll get more value for your money than you would with Rocket Lawyer.
To learn more about their services, read my full Rocket Lawyer review.
Other California LLC Services
I investigated the following nine LLC services as part of my process, but they are so far from being a worthwhile option that they do not warrant a full review.
LegalZoom is another legal services provider that offers very basic LLC formation services. For $99 they only offer assistance with your Certificate of Organization, provide a banking solution, and that’s it.
If you need a legal service provider in California then LegalZoom will sort you out; other than that, you are better off choosing a LLC such as ZenBusiness.
Incorporate.com have a $99 basic package that only provides assistance with your Articles of Organization and an online document storage portal.
CorpNet’s $79 package will help you file your Articles of Organization and offer compliance alerts. That’s it.
IncParadise has an $89 package that offers online document storage and assistance with your Articles of Organization and operating agreement. Every extra service incurs an additional cost.
MyCorporation offers the same services as IncParadise but charges $133 for its basic package.
Direct Incorporation offers the same services as IncParadise and MyCorporation but adds a banking solution and an EIN but they charge $147 for their service.
InCorp will file your Articles of Organization and assist you with your operating agreement all for $117. Every additional service incurs an extra cost.
Nationwide Incorporations charges $200 for the same services as InCorp.
SunDoc Filings’ $79 basic package will help you to submit your Articles of Organization. Their $99 Key Package will help you draft your operating agreement and their $279 Premier package will get you an EIN.
The Best LLC Service Review Summary
After reviewing all these LLC services, ZenBusiness is my #1 pick for the best LLC formation service in California.
Their $49 basic package covers all the basics you’ll need to start a business in the state. Their website is intuitive and user-friendly and their customer support team is also very helpful.
Couple that with an average rating of 4.7/5 across 4500 online reviews and you have an LLC service that you can count on.
If you want an affordable and reliable LLC service in California, head to ZenBusiness today.
Best LLC Service Review Methodology
This is the method I used to determine which is the best LLC service in California.
Why You Should Trust Me
You should trust my LLC service recommendations because I have more experience and know-how in the LLC business than anyone I know.
My journey started when I started my first business. I did not have the requisite knowledge required to file my Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State so I decided to hire the services of an LLC service. Unfortunately, this LLC service turned out to be too pricey and too underwhelming (I won’t mention their name as their services have greatly improved over time).
My second adventure into the business world was a lot simpler. This time I picked ZenBusiness as my LLC service of choice and their intuitive website coupled with their reliable customer support helped me get started in the business world.
My third attempt at starting a business was also flawless. This time, I decided to pick a premium LLC service. My #1 choice was Northwest Registered Agent as I wanted to take advantage of the experience of their Corporate Guides.
My experience, however, is not limited to using these services. I have also helped a lot of people choose the right LLC formation service for their fledgling businesses. This is the reason I started BoostSuite. Since then, I’ve assisted more than 1,000 people to find the right LLC service for their new business.
How I Selected The Best LLC Service
I used a 4-stage, 5-factor analysis process to find the best LLC formation service in California.
Stage 1: Reviews
The first stage of this process was to go through the popular business review websites such as Google Business, Facebook, TrustPilot, and the Better Business Bureau. Most LLC formation services ask their customers to leave some feedback (whether positive or negative) on these sites so that they can rate the quality of their offerings.
This review process allowed me to find out which LLC services were running legit operations and those that were scams.
Stage 2: Website Analysis
After separating the legitimate formation services from those that are underperformers, the next stage in this process was to visit each service provider’s website and go through the claims and statements that were posted.
This allowed me to understand the types of services that were offered by each service provider and how they positioned themselves in the market.
Stage 3: Speaking With Real Customers
After I understood how these companies have positioned themselves in the industries, the next stage was to speak to actual customers to find out if they lived up to their claims. This is something I could have done while reading the online reviews, but these reviews tend to be skewed towards negative or positive extremes.
I contacted friends who have used an LLC formation service, contacted people I’d referred to and spoke to visitors to BoostSuite to understand what their experiences with these LLC services were like.
Stage 4: Speak With Their Sales Team
For the last stage, I contacted the customer care department of each LLC service and pushed them for answers about some of the negative reviews they had received on the numerous review websites that I had looked at before.
This process allowed me to observe how their customer care teams dealt with criticism and less positive feedback.
Through the 4-stage analysis process, I ranked these LLC formation services using the following five factors.
Factor 1: Offerings
The first factor I used in my analysis process was the type of services that were offered by each LLC service.
Some LLC services will just provide the basic services such as filing your Certificate of Formation or drafting your operating agreement and that’s it. Other LLC services have full scale offerings that include services like access to an EIN, compliance alerts, an in-house accountant who’ll offer proper financial advice, an online document storage portal, and an official business address in the state of California. What about a business address ( so you don’t have to use your home address?
The major disparity in the type of services being offered by these LLC formation services meant that this is where my analysis process began.
Factor 2: Price
The second factor I had to consider was the cost of services. Some LLC services started at $0 while others went as far as $399. When paired with the wide disparity in the type of services that are being offered, the cost per service was the second factor I used to rank these services.
Factor 3: Ease Of Signup
The third factor I used in my ranking process was how easy the signup procedure was.
Some LLC formation services have outdated and clunky legacy systems that seem to have been designed and built back in the 90s. Other services have simple and intuitive websites that are designed to save you time and energy
We examined the signup systems of each LLC service to find out which needed the least effort and time.
Factor 4: Ease Of Use
Some of the issues present in the signup process also continued through to other important sections of the websites
For instance, some LLC formation services provided countless blank forms that you have to fill in despite having filled out other forms with the same details earlier. Other LLC formation services have user-friendly websites that offer pre-filled data and, in most cases, all you need is a signature to sign off the registration process.
I assessed each LLC service on how simple their system was easy to navigate.
Factor 5: Customer Service
The last factor I used in my analysis process was the quality of the customer support department of each LLC service.
Some companies outsource their customer support services to call centers in foreign countries that are staffed with people who don’t understand the business environment in the US. They will not only give you the wrong advice but they also lack the expertise needed to assist you with your business setup process.
Then there are companies like Northwest Registered Agent that have US-based customer care departments that are staffed with highly experienced personnel who’ll not only assist you in setting up your business but will also provide credible business advice throughout your business journey.
This major disparity between the quality of the customer care support that is provided by these LLC services meant that this was our fifth and last rating factor.
The Best LLC Service Results Summary
After analysing every LLC service through my 4-stage, 5-factor investigation process, the following LLC services are my top recommendations.
Best Overall LLC Service – ZenBusiness (9.13/10)
ZenBusiness is my #1 choice for the best LLC formation service in California because they’ll provide all the services needed to establish your business in the state at a competitive price.
Their $49 Basic Package includes assistance with filing your Articles of Organization, assistance with drafting your operating agreement, a business address in the state of California, an online portal where you can store your important documents, a free 30-min consultation with their in-house accounting team, and a full year of their registered agent service.
Additionally, their $199 Pro Package includes an EIN, a banking solution, and VIP processing while their $299 Premium Package provides a business domain name and a website built for you. The only feature that is absent from their offerings list is a company seal.
They have a pretty simple and intuitive user interface and their customer support department is very reliable. When you factor in their average rating of 4.7/5 across 4,500 online reviews, you realize that there is a lot to like about ZenBusiness.
If you are ready to establish your business in California and you would like to hire an experienced and cost-effective LLC formation service, head over to ZenBusiness today.
Best Premium LLC Service – Northwest Registered Agent (8.20/10)
Northwest Registered Agent is my #1 premium registered agent service of choice due to their exemplary customer care team (also referred to as Corporate Guides).
Their basic package includes assistance with your Certificate of Organisation, a business name and address in the state of California, assistance with your operating agreement, and a free year of their registered agent service.
But their best feature, as mentioned earlier, is the quality of service provided by their Corporate Guides. This is a team of former lawyers, accountants, small business owners, and entrepreneurs who have a wealth of knowledge in how to start and operate a business in the state. They will not only guide you through your business setup process but they’ll also be available to advise you during your entire business journey.
Their basic package cost of $225 is significantly higher than ZenBusiness’s $49 package but you are really getting good value for your money.
If you are a bit nervous about starting your business and you are ready to pay an extra amount for credible business advice, please visit Northwest Registered Agent today.
Best Budget LLC Service – IncFile (7.15/10)
If you are on a tight budget and would like an LLC service that will assist you with filing your documents with the California Secretary of State, then IncFile is a great option to check out.
IncFile’s basic package will assist with filing your Articles of Organization at no cost. However, if you’ll need extra services such as a banking resolution, a business tax consultation, and assistance with filing your operating agreement, or compliance alerts, you’ll need to purchase their $149 package. While they’ll save you money in their basic package, they are significantly more expensive compared with ZenBusiness.
If you are running low on cash and all you need is your Certificate of Formation filed with the Secretary of State’s office, then IncFile is your best option.
After I assessed the 11 LLC formation services providers through the 4-stage, 5-factor analysis process, I concluded that ZenBusiness is the best LLC service in California.
They’ll provide everything you need to start your business while providing the best value for your money. Their system is user-friendly and their customer care team is very supportive.
For just $49, ZenBusiness will help you get started in the business world so you can concentrate on other important tasks.
If you are ready to start your business journey, visit ZenBusiness today.
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