Starting a new business in California? One of the critical steps to ensuring a strong legal foundation for your venture is registering your business name in California.
A proper business name not only represents your brand but also ensures your business’s legal standing. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of how to register a business name in California, step by step.
Registering a Business in California Step 1: Choose Your Business Name
Here are some tips for a strong brand identity.
Your business name should reflect your brand and be unique. It’s a good practice to come up with a few name options in case your first choice is already in use. Be sure to avoid names that are too similar to existing businesses, as this can lead to legal complications.
What Makes a Good Business Name? —The S.M.A.R.T Criteria for Success
- Simple: Keep it easy to spell and pronounce.
- Memorable: Aim for something catchy and easy to remember.
- Appropriate: Ensure it aligns with your brand and industry.
- Relevant: Reflect on what your business does or offers.
- Timeless: Choose a name that will remain relevant as your business grows.
Just as a well-chosen business name is essential, recognizing your employees’ contributions is equally important. Your business thrives on their dedication. Equipping your team with the best tools to improve employee productivity sets the stage for lasting success.
Related: Mileage Guide For Employers
Registering a Business in California Step 2: Check Name Availability
Ensuring Your Business Name is Unique.
To determine if your chosen name is available for registration, you can use California Secretary of State’s business name search tool. This will help you find out if another business is already using a similar name.
Registering a Business in California Step 3: Determine Your Entity Type
Choosing the Right Structure for Your Business.
California offers various business entity types, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations. Choose the one that suits your business structure and goals. Keep in mind that your entity type can affect your business name requirements.
Four Main Types of Business Structure Choices:
- Sole Proprietorship: A business structure where one individual is the sole owner and responsible for all aspects of the business.
- Partnership: A business structure where two or more individuals or entities share ownership, responsibilities, and profits.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): A hybrid business structure that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the simplicity and flexibility of a partnership.
- Corporation: A legal entity that exists separately from its owners (shareholders) and offers limited liability protection, often with a board of directors and corporate officers.
Registering a Business in California Step 4: Register with the California Secretary of State
Ensure your business name is protected statewide.
If you are forming a corporation, LLC, or another type of business entity, you will need to register your business name with the California Secretary of State to ensure your name is protected statewide. Visit their website to complete the necessary paperwork.
You can also find detailed information on business entity types and registration here. The filing fee for registering a business name is typically $70 for an LLC in California.
How To Form a California LLC Online With Bizfile
- Access BizFile
- Create an Account
- Start a New Filing
Following Section 17701.08 of the California Corporations Code, when creating the name for your LLC, it’s important to include a distinct identifier that clearly signifies the business as a limited liability company. Such as:
- “LLC”—(most common)
- “Ltd Liability Co”
- “Limited Liability Company”
How to Register a Corporation Name in California
Similar to registering an LLC, a California Corporation must incorporate a specific designator in its name that clearly indicates its corporate structure. These designators include terms such as:
Registering a Business in California Step 5: Comply with Additional Regulations
Check if there’re more industry-Specific Requirements.
Depending on your industry and location, you may need to comply with additional regulations and obtain permits.
For example, businesses involved in food service, healthcare, construction, and more have specific regulations to follow. California is one of three states in the US that require companies to reimburse their employee’s mileage.
Therefore, be sure to research your specific requirements to ensure your business is fully compliant.
Registering a Business in California Step 6: File a Trademark
Protect your business’s brand identity.
Filing a trademark is crucial for protecting your business’s brand identity. While registering your business name provides some level of protection, it may not safeguard your brand from unauthorized use in all circumstances.
Why Are Trademarks Important?
- It provides exclusive rights to your brand, allowing you to use it without fear of infringement.
- It prevents others from using a similar name or logo, reducing the risk of brand confusion.
- It can increase the value of your business and protect your brand’s reputation.
Registering a Business in California Step 7: Renew Your Registration
Make sure to keep your business registration up-to-date.
Business name registrations in California require periodic renewals. Make sure to stay updated on your renewal dates and submit the necessary paperwork on time to keep your name in good standing.
As a part of annual expenses associated with maintaining a California LLC, you may find it necessary to remit a minimum tax payment of $800 to the California Franchise Tax Board in accordance with CA Rev & Tax Code § 17942. You can also find renewal information and forms on the Secretary of State’s website.
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