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 all 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 have investigated the 11 best LLC formation services in California through a four-stage, five-factor process. Below are the results of my analysis.
Table of Contents
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 their affordable formation package and industry-leading customer support.
Their 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 their Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that allows you to make cheap phone calls using your broadband connection, a business tax consultation with their 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, their best feature has to be their customer support department.
Most LLC service providers outsource their customer service departments to call centers in foreign countries that are staffed with people who do not understand US business practices. You might get assistance with resetting your password or updates on your application status, but the service is not that good.
Things at Northwest are quite different. Their US-based Corporate Guides (that’s what they call their customer support team) 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.
Their Formation Package has a standard price of $225 but BoostSuite readers can enjoy an 82% discount if they use 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 their website. That makes their 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 they offer the best customer support, coupled with affordable and comprehensive LLC services.
Their $39 Formation Package offers everything you need to establish your business entity in California, including a free registered agent service for the first year. Their Corporate Guides are there to assist you not only during your business setup process but also for the duration of your business.
If you are 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 on their Formation Package.
*All prices listed are per state, per year.
2. Harbor Compliance — 7.45/10 (Best Premium LLC Service)
Harbor Compliance is the best premium LLC service provider in California and #2 overall on my list because they provide personalized customer care 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 free year of registered agent service.
But, as I mentioned earlier, their best feature is their customer support. Instead of connecting you with a hotline, an online chatbot, or an anonymous email address, Harbor Compliance sets you up with your own personal representative who understands your business challenges and is ready to offer credible advice and guidance during your business formation and beyond.
Harbor Compliance’s only problem is the price of their services. Their Formation Package goes for $399, while their 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. They also provide 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.
Their $399 Basic Package is significantly more expensive compared with Northwest, but they do 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.
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 business services. But there's a catch.
The one thing that sets Incfile apart from most LLC services on this list is that for $0 they will help you file your formation paperwork and, on top of that, they will provide a free registered agent service for your first year in business, saving you about $99.
IncFile has only two features on their free package. If you need online document storage, compliance alerts, or a business tax consultation, you must upgrade to their $169 Gold Package.
Considering Northwest Registered Agents charges $39 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 formation documents filed, then IncFile is a good option for you. Other than that, you are better off with Northwest—their highly discounted cost of their comprehensive services outshines IncFile’s $149 (plus state fees) Gold Package.
To read more about IncFile’s services, visit their website today.
ZenBusiness is fourth on my list because they provide a wide range of services in their Basic Package. This dependable business formation service runs an average 4.7/5 rating across 4,500 online customer reviews.
Their $150.75 (plus state fees) Starter Package offers a wide range of services including a business name and address in the state and assistance with drafting and filing your initial formation paperwork. ZenBusiness also helps you create an Operating Agreement, compliance alerts so you don’t miss important filing deadlines, an online portal to store your legal documents, a free consultation with their in-house accounting team, and a year of their registered agent service.
If you need assistance with applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), VIP processing, or a banking resolution, you can upgrade to their $310.75 Pro Package. They also have a $410.75 Premium Package that offers all these services and adds a business domain name and customized website. As you can see, they are not cheap. Add in state fees and you’re better off with an affordable service like Northwest.
Another shortcoming with ZenBusiness’s services, in addition to their costliness, is they don’t offer a company seal with any of their packages. Don’t fret though. You can get a company seal online for around $15.
For more information on their services, read my full ZenBusiness review.
5. Swyft Filings
Swift Filings is a registered agent service newly embarking on company formation that charge $49 to draft and file your formation documents on your behalf, provide an online document storage portal, and offer a 30-minute business tax consultation. They also give you a free business domain name for one year.
The only reason they are fourth 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 (plus state fees) package. 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 their free year of registered agent service, you’ll need to purchase their $279 package. Northwest offer a free year of their registered agent service in their $39 package.
7. Inc Authority
Inc Authority try to copy IncFile’s pricing strategy with their $0, free LLC formation package. That’s right, they charge 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 their $399 package. To get a year’s worth of their 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 IncFile.
8. Incorporate Fast
Incorporate Fast charge $99 (plus state fees) for their 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 their registered agent services.
The most important feature of Incorporate Fast is they process every new business filing the same day they receive it.
BizFilings is a registered agent service that charge $99 for their Basic Package, which includes assistance with filing your formation paperwork, compliance alerts, and a free year of their registered agent services. 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.
10. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is an online legal services provider that also provide basic LLC services. For $99 (plus state filing fee) Rocket Lawyer files your Articles of Organization and they also offer an online portal to store important documents.
Considering that Northwest charge $39 for their 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 their 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 they only offer assistance with your initial formation documents, a banking solution, and that’s it.
Find out more about LegalZoom's offers and services in my full review here.
Other California LLC Services
The following seven LLC services are lackluster compared with the previous 11 and do not warrant a full review:
Incorporate.com is a legal services provider just like Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom. They have 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.
Read my full CorpNet review to find out more about their services and offers.
MyCorporation offers online document storage and assistance with your Articles of Organization and Operating Agreement, but charges $133 for its Basic Package.
15. Direct Incorporation
InCorp file your Articles of Organization and assist you with your Operating Agreement, all for $117. For additional services, you will incur an extra cost.
Find out more about InCorp’s offers and services in my full review here.
17. Nationwide Incorporations
18. SunDoc Filings
SunDoc Filings’ $79 package helps you to submit your Articles of Organization. Their $99 Key Package helps you draft your Operating Agreement and their $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.
Their $39 Basic Package covers all the basics you’ll need to start a business in the state and their 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 their name as their 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 their 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 their 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.
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 they positioned themselves in the market.
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 Their Sales Team
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 they had received on the numerous customer review websites I’d looked at before.
This process allowed me to observe how their customer care teams dealt with criticism and less positive 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 in California 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 being offered by these LLC formation services 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 that are being offered, 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 the business environment in the US. They will not only give you the wrong advice for your business 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 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 11 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.
They’ll provide everything you need to start your business while providing the best value for your money. For a highly discounted cost of $39, they provide assistance with filing your Articles of Organization, assistance with drafting your Operating Agreement, a 90-day free trial of their Voice over Internet Protocol service (VoIP), a business name and address in California, and compliance alerts. They also offer a business tax consultation with their in-house accountants, an online document storage portal, and a free year of their registered agent services.
Their Corporate Guides are a team of former business owners, lawyers, and accountants who understand how a business operates and are available to provide support not only during your California LLC formation process but they will also offer credible business advice during your business journey.
If you are ready to start your business journey, visit Northwest Registered Agent today and enjoy an 82% discount on their Formation Package.