California Articles of Incorporation

To form a California corporation, you file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State and pay the appropriate filing fee. Articles of Incorporation formally and legally create your corporation in the state. Once this formation document is processed, you will be able to conduct business in California.

Articles of Incorporation Instructions

  1. Corporate Name

    The single biggest reason that a business filing gets rejected is problems with the proposed name. There are specific laws regarding the names of California corporation. Failure to comply with these laws will result in your Articles of Incorporation being rejected.

    You cannot register a name that is already in use by another business entity in California. To check for availability, you should conduct a business entity name search.

    You cannot use the following terms in your corporate name: bank, trust, trustee, or any related terminology.

    Your name must include one of the following corporate designators: corporation, incorporation, limited or an abbreviation of one these terms.

  2. Corporate Purpose

    This article is already filled-in and cannot be altered. It states that your California corporation is being formed to conduct lawful business.

  3. Service of Process

    California state law requires that every corporation appoint a California registered agent. Your registered agent is responsible for accepting legal correspondence and specific tax documents on behalf of your company.

    A registered agent must have a physical street address, which is listed here on your Articles of Incorporation.

  4. Corporate Address

    You are required to list a California business address, even if you’re a web-based business. If you hire us, we’ll provide a California business address for you to use on your Articles of Incorporation at no extra cost.


    The Secretary of State requires you to list the number of shares of stock you are authorizing at the time of incorporation. You can always authorize and issue more stock later, so don’t feel like you have to come up with a number that is set for all time.

  6. Incorporator

    Your incorporator is the individual or company that prepares and submits your Articles of Incorporation. If you do this on your own, then you must print and sign here. If you hire us to form your California corporation, then we would sign.

How to Submit Articles of Incorporation

The Secretary of State accept submissions, online, by mail or in person. Through June 2023, the filing is free, but normally it is $100.

Mailed submissions should include the Mail Submission Cover Sheet, which is attached to the Articles of Incorporation. This helps filers to keep proper track of your filing.

Mailing Address:

California Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings
PO Box 944228
Sacramento, CA 94244-2280

In-Person Address:

Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Processing Time

The Secretary of State posts processing times online. This list can be misleading, however. Typically, in our experience, you are looking at weeks of processing time unless you pay for expedite.

Expedite processing is available with three expedite options:

  • 24-Hour: $350
  • 4-Hour: $500
  • Same Day: $750

Four-hour expedite is only available to filings that have been precleared and approved.