Finding the best LLC formation service in California is important when you’re ready to start an LLC.
The right LLC service will help your business get started in no time and will make sure your official documents are well drafted and properly submitted to the California Secretary of State.
The wrong LLC service will hold up your business setup process for weeks, sometimes even months, thwarting your daily business activities due to the lack of proper licenses.
I’ve evaluated the 10 best LLC formation services in California through a four-stage, five-factor process. Below are the results of my analysis.
1. Northwest Registered Agent: 9.45/10 (Best Premium LLC Service)
Northwest Registered Agent is the best LLC service in the state of California because of its affordable formation package and industry-leading customer support.
Northwest’s formation package provides all the services you need to establish your California LLC, including assistance with getting a business name and address in the state of California and filing your articles of organization, assistance with drafting your operating agreement, an online storage portal for your legal documents, and compliance alerts so that you don’t miss any important filing deadlines.
Other services included in this package are a 90-day free trial of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, a business tax consultation with Northwest’s in-house accountants, and a free year of registered agent service.
Northwest also offers a few comprehensive services that are available for additional purchase. These include access to an employer identification number (EIN), certified copies of your formation services, and a Certificate of Good Standing.
However, its best feature has to be its customer support team.
Most LLC service providers outsource their customer service departments to call centers in foreign countries that are staffed with people who don’t understand US business practices. You might get assistance with resetting your password or updates on your application status but no specialized business help.
Things at Northwest are quite different. Its US-based Corporate Guides are a team of former lawyers, accountants, and small business owners, with years of California LLC experience between them.
Their experience with the exact problems your LLC in California is facing means they can provide credible advice and assistance during your entire business journey. This type of support can cost up to $5,000 a day from third-party financial advisors, so having it included as part of their formation service is a major relief.
Northwest Registered Agent’s formation package has a standard price of $225 but BoostSuite readers can enjoy an 82% discount by using my dedicated link to Northwest’s sign-up page. Northwest cut me a sweet deal due to the high visitor traffic that I bring to its website. That makes Northwest’s LLC formation service only $39!
The only visible issue with Northwest is the lack of services that assist your business entity with growing an online presence, such as a personalized business website, an email service, and a domain name registration.
But this is just a minor issue. You can get these services from a number of websites like Wix and Squarespace for as low as $15.
Northwest is by far the best business formation service in California because it offers the best customer support, coupled with affordable and comprehensive LLC services.
Its $39 formation package offers everything you need to establish your business entity in California, including a free registered agent service for the first year. Its Corporate Guides are there to assist you not only during your business setup process but also for the duration of your business.
If you’re looking for affordable LLC formation services that provide guidance for your California LLC, head over to Northwest Registered Agent using my dedicated link and enjoy an 82% discount.
*All prices listed are per state, per year.
2. ZenBusiness: 8.25/10 (Best Essentials LLC Service)
ZenBusiness boasts a $0 plus filing fee price tag, which is hard to beat. But because it doesn’t supply registered agent services or small business support, it’s more expensive than it initially appears.
The most appealing part of ZenBusiness’ services is its $0 fee. For that price you’ll get the essentials: a business name availability search and assistance completing and filing your formation documents.
With its $199 Pro plan you get expedited filing, which takes 4–6 days depending on your location, and help drafting your company’s operating agreement.
Choosing ZenBusiness’ $299 Premium plan gets you rush filing, which takes as little as 1–2 days, a business email and domain name, and a custom website-building tool.
Of course the $0 plan will cover everything necessary to form your LLC, but if you want any other services, they’ll cost you.
There’s one glaring omission from all of ZenBusiness’ packages: a year of free registered agent service. The only plan that includes registered agent service costs $199 per year, which may be expensive for some business owners.
This means if you need a registered agent in California, you’ll not only pay more for less with ZenBusiness the first year you sign up, but every year after that.
You’ll find the customer service at ZenBusiness is perfectly adequate, but it isn’t anything to write home about. They can quickly and efficiently handle typical customer service tasks, like updating billing information or password changes, but they aren’t equipped to provide you with tax advice or give you HR and logistics solutions.
If you’re on a tight budget and need few services, you can’t beat ZenBusiness’s price, which covers the fundamentals.
If you think ZenBusiness is the best LLC formation service for your business, you can read more on its website.
3. Harbor Compliance: 7.15/10 (Best Premium LLC Service)
Harbor Compliance is the best premium LLC service provider in California because it provides personalized customer support.
Harbor Compliance provide all the basics you need to establish your California LLC, including filing your initial formation documents, a draft operating agreement template, assistance with applying for an employer identification number, and a free year of registered agent service.
But as I mentioned earlier, its best feature is its customer support. Instead of connecting you with a hotline, an online chatbot, or an anonymous email address, Harbor Compliance assigns you your own personal representative who understands your business challenges and is ready to offer credible advice and guidance during your business formation and beyond. You’ll reach the same person every time you call, instead of having to explain your business over and over again to a different person each time.
Harbor Compliance’s only problem is the price of its services. Its lowest formation package goes for $399, while the premium Compliance package goes for $799. This makes Harbor Compliance significantly more expensive than Northwest.
Harbor Compliance is a premium LLC formation service in California that provides all the business services you need to set up your California LLC. It also provides a personal account manager who will walk you through your business formation process. No other company on this list offers this level of customer support.
Its $399 basic package is significantly more expensive compared with Northwest, but it does provide good LLC services in exchange.
If you need a personal representative who will guide you through your California LLC setup process, contact Harbor Compliance today.
4. Swyft Filings
Swyft Filings is a registered agent service newly embarking on company formation that charges $49 to draft and file your formation documents on your behalf, provide an online document storage portal, and offer a 30-min business tax consultation. It also gives you a free business domain name for one year.
The only reason it’s fourth on my list is that it doesn't offer a free year of registered agent service. To get this service, you need to sign up for its $149 package, and remember, that doesn’t include state fees. For $100 less, you can get a free year of registered agent service with Northwest.
However, Swyft Filings is still a reliable and reputable LLC formation service that will get your business started without any hiccups.
To learn more, read my Swyft Filings review.
MyCompanyWorks offer a $79 basic package that includes assistance with your operating agreement, filing your formation documents on your behalf, an online portal to store your documents, and compliance alerts so you don’t miss important filing deadlines.
But still, there is the issue of cost. To access its free year of registered agent service, you’ll need to purchase the $279 package. Northwest offers a free year of registered agent service for $39.
6. Inc Authority
Inc Authority tries to copy ZenBusiness’ pricing strategy with its $0 LLC formation package. That’s right, Inc Authority charges nothing for filing your initial formation documents, 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 its $399 package. To get a year’s worth of registered agent services, you’ll need to cough up $799!
If you are running out of money and all you need is to file your formation paperwork, you are better off choosing ZenBusiness.
7. Incorporate Fast
Incorporate Fast charges $99 for its basic package, which gets you assistance with your operating agreement, assistance with filing your formation documents, sample document templates to help with your sign-up process, and a year’s worth of registered agent services.
The most important feature of Incorporate Fast is that it processes every new business filing the same day it receives your request—or so it claims.
BizFilings is a registered agent service that charges $99 for its basic package, which includes assistance with filing your formation paperwork, compliance alerts, and a free year of registered agent services.
However, it doesn't provide an online document storage portal, a business tax assessment, or assistance with your operating agreement. Considering the price it charges for its LLC services, you don’t get much value for your money.
9. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is an online legal services provider that also provides basic LLC services. For $99 (plus state filing fee) Rocket Lawyer files your articles of organization and also offers an online portal to store important documents.
Considering that Northwest charge $39 for basic services, you’ll get more value for your money with them than you would with Rocket Lawyer.
To learn more about Rocket Lawyer and its services, read my full Rocket Lawyer review.
LegalZoom, just like Rocket Lawyer, is another legal services provider that offer very basic LLC services. For $99 it only offers assistance with your initial formation documents and a banking solution. That’s it.
Other California LLC Services
The following seven LLC services are lackluster compared with the previous 10 and don’t even warrant a full review. Still, they’re worth a mention. Here they are in no particular order:
Incorporate.com is a legal services provider just like Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom. It has a $99 package that only provides assistance with your articles of organization and an online document storage portal.
CorpNet’s $79 package helps you file your articles of organization and provides compliance alerts. That’s it.
MyCorporation offer online document storage and assistance with your articles of organization and operating agreement, but charge $133 for its basic package.
14. Direct Incorporation
InCorp files your articles of organization and assists you with your operating agreement, all for $117. For additional services, you will incur an extra cost.
16. Nationwide Incorporations
17. SunDoc Filings
SunDoc Filings’ $79 package helps you to submit your articles of organization. Its $99 Key package helps you draft your operating agreement and its $279 Premier package gets you an EIN.
The Best LLC Services Review Summary
After reviewing these LLC services, Northwest Registered Agent is my #1 pick for the best LLC service in the state of California.
Its $39 basic package covers all the basics you’ll need to start a business in the state and its Corporate Guides provide industry-leading small business advice.
If you want an affordable and reliable LLC service in California with the best customer support in the industry, head to Northwest Registered Agent today.
Best LLC Service Review Methodology
This is the method I used to determine which is the best LLC formation 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 formation business than anyone I know.
My journey began when I started my first business. I did not have the requisite knowledge to file my articles of organization with the Secretary of State myself, so I hired an LLC service. Unfortunately, this LLC service turned out to be too pricey and underwhelming (I won’t mention it by name because its services have greatly improved over time).
My second venture into the business world was a lot simpler. This time I picked Northwest as my LLC service, and its reliable Corporate Guides helped me get started in the business world.
My third attempt at starting an LLC was also flawless. This time, I decided to pick a premium company formation service. My #1 choice was Harbor Compliance because I wanted to take advantage of its personal account manager.
My experience is not limited to using these services. I have also helped a lot of people choose the right business 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 four-stage, five-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 business formation services ask for customer feedback (whether positive or negative) on these sites so that they can rate the quality of their offerings.
This analysis of customer reviews allowed me to find out which LLC services were running legit operations and which were scams.
Still, customer reviews are not always trustworthy, so I couldn’t stop there.
Stage 2: Website Analysis
After separating the legitimate formation services from the underperformers, the next stage in this process was to visit each service provider’s website and go through the advertised claims and statements.
This allowed me to understand the types of services that were offered by each service provider and how each positioned itself in the market. What claims did it make about its services?
Stage 3: Speaking With Real Customers
After I understood how these companies had positioned themselves in the industry, 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 customer reviews tend to be skewed towards negative or positive extremes.
I contacted friends and others I’d referred to business formation services and I spoke to BoostSuite visitors to understand from firsthand customer feedback what their experiences with these LLC services were like.
Stage 4: Speaking With Sales Teams
For the last stage, I contacted the customer care department of each formation company and pushed them for answers about some of the negative reviews it had received on the numerous customer-review websites I’d looked at before.
This process allowed me to observe how these LLC formation services’ customer-care teams dealt with criticism and unfavorable reviews.
Through the four-stage analysis process, I ranked these business 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 formation package.
Some LLC formation and registered agent services will just provide the basic services, such as filing your formation paperwork or drafting your operating agreement and that’s it.
Other LLC services have full-scale offerings that include services like applying for an EIN for you, 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.
A few LLC formation services even offer legal services and free registered agent service for receiving service of process and other important documents in addition to business formation.
The major disparity in the type of services these LLC formation services offer meant that this is where my analysis began.
Factor 2: Price
The second factor I had to consider was cost. Some LLC services started at $0 while others went as far as $799. When paired with the wide disparity in the type of services on offer, the cost per service was the second factor I used to rank these services.
Factor 3: Ease of Sign-Up
The third factor I used in my ranking process was how easy the sign-up 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 and your business time and energy.
I examined the sign-up 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 sign-up 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 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 business in the US.
Then there are companies, like Northwest, that have US-based customer-care departments 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 provided by these LLC services meant that this was our fifth and last rating factor.
After I had assessed the 10 best LLC formation services providers through the four-stage, five-factor analysis process, I concluded that Northwest Registered Agent is the best LLC service in California.
It’ll provide everything you need to start your business while providing the best value for your money. For a highly discounted cost of $39, it provides assistance with filing your articles of organization, assistance with drafting your operating agreement, and a 90-day free trial of Voice over Internet Protocol service (VoIP).
Northwest also helps with a business name and address in California, as well as issuing compliance alerts to keep you in good standing. It also offers a business tax consultation with its in-house accountants, an online document storage portal, and a free year of registered agent services.
Northwest’s Corporate Guides are a team of former business owners, lawyers, and accountants who understand how a business operates and are available to provide support during your California LLC formation process, and they will continue to offer credible business advice during your entire business journey.
If you are ready to start your business journey with a reputable company that won’t let your business fail, visit Northwest Registered Agent today and enjoy an 82% discount.