Entrepreneurs can open up various kinds of California corporate businesses. In addition to California nonprofits, the state provides for the formation of general stock, close, professional and “common interest development” corporations. Individuals interested in forming one of these California business entities must decide which kind of corporation to form based on their particular business situation or preferences. After deciding the corporate type, filers can obtain the filing forms from the California Secretary of State. Entrepreneurs then form the corporation by sending in or delivering the forms and filing fees to the appropriate state office.
Visit the “Forms, Samples and Fees” page on the California Secretary of State’s website (see Sources). As you look down the page, you can see the four links that lead to the different types of California corporations. Each link contains a document with instructions and a sample of the “Articles of Incorporation” for that business type.
Read the instructions to help you decide which kind of corporation to establish. For example, you will find that a close corporation may issue stock to a maximum of 35 shareholders. However, the Secretary of State does not give legal advice. You may wish to consult a California business attorney to help you make filing and organizational decisions for your new California business.
Fill out the “Articles of Incorporation” sample for your business type. Note that the sample merely gives you the minimum required to file a corporation in California. You may also need to consult an attorney for this aspect of the filing process. Refer to the instructions to get more details on how to fill out articles for incorporating a business.
Prepare the filing fees. As of 2010, the fees for incorporating a California business are as follows: $100 for a stock corporation; $100 for a close corporation; $100 for a professional corporation; $30 for a nonprofit corporation; and $30 for a “common interest development” corporation. Make checks or money orders payable to “Secretary of State.” You may also pay by cash or credit card if filing in person in Sacramento or credit card if filing in Los Angeles. Note that a separate charge of $15 applies if you file in person. Make out a separate payment for this handling charge.
Prepare a letter that provides the corporate name, a name and telephone number for the filer and the return address. You should also include a self-addressed envelope. This step applies if filing the documents in the mail.
Send the form and fees to the following address if filing by mail:
Secretary of State
Document Filing Support Unit
P.O. Box 944260
Sacramento, CA 94244-2600.
You may also deliver the form and fee by hand to the third floor of 1500 11th Street in Sacramento. Alternatively, you may deliver to Room 12513 of 300 South Spring Street in Los Angeles.
Forms, Samples and Fees Page From the California Secretary of State