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Register a Foreign Corporation in California

To register a foreign corporation in California, you must file a California Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation with the California Secretary of State. You can submit this document by mail or in person. The Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation for a foreign California corporation currently costs $0 to file (down from $100 until June 30, 2023!). Below, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about how to file the Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation and register a foreign corporation in California. Or, sign up for our California Foreign Corporation service, and we’ll handle your filing instead!

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Download the California Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation. Fill out the form and submit it to the state.

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California Foreign Corporation

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Free Guide to Registering a Foreign Corporation in California

What does it cost to register a foreign corporation in California?

California currently charges a standard filing fee of $0 to register an out-of-state (“foreign”) for-profit corporation (this is a temporary price drop from $100 and will last until June 30, 2023), but there are other costs involved. To register, you’ll file the California Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation (Form S&DC-S/N) with the California Secretary of State. The state also requires foreign corporations to submit an Initial Statement of Information within 90 days of registering, which comes with an additional $25 fee ($20 for the report, plus a $5 disclosure fee).

The fees above apply to standard filings, which can take 30 business days or so to process. If you want faster results, you have several options to choose from:

  1. Hand deliver your documents to the CA Secretary of State’s California office, pay a $15 counter drop-off fee, and get your application prioritized over documents sent through the mail. Currently, this option will speed your processing time up to around 12 business days.
  2. Hand deliver your documents to the CA Secretary of State and pay one of the exorbitant expedite fees. You can get your application processed in 24 hours for an additional $350 and on the same day for $750. These expedite fees are in addition to the state’s other filing fees, but, fortunately, the state doesn’t charge the $15 counter drop-off fee if your business opts for one of the more expensive expedited options.

You can also hire a filing service (like Northwest!) to register your California foreign corporation. When you hire Northwest, we’ll file your Initial Statement of Information alongside Form S&DC-S/N online, and we can get you 2-day processing for an additional $350.

How long does it take for the state to process the California Certificate of Authority?

California is currently processing mailed filings in around 30 business days. A hand delivered, prioritized application will typically get processed in around 12 business days, and the expedited options include 1-day processing, same-day processing, and 4-hour processing. Each expedited option, of course, comes with its own filing fee.

When you hire Northwest, you can choose between 30-day processing ($250 total) and 2-day processing ($600 total).

What forms do I file with California to qualify my out of state Corporation?

The Statement and Designation by Foreign Corporation form as well as a Certificate of Good Standing showing the corporation status and existence is required. To speed the processing of documents mailed in, you can provide a self-addressed envelope with a letter referencing the corporate name, contact name, return address, and telephone number. Be sure to do a free business name search first to see if your corporation name is currently available.

What do I need from my home state?

A Certificate of Good Standing. A certified copy of your Articles of Incorporation cannot be accepted as proof of Good Standing.

Does it need to be an original copy?


How current does the certificate need to be?

The Certificate of Good Standing needs to be dated within 6 months of this filing.

Will I need a California registered agent for my corporation?

Yes. When you hire Northwest as your California registered agent, it’s a flat rate yearly price of $125 a year, you’ll have an online account that tracks your report due dates, which States you’re registered in, when your yearly service with us is up, and any documents we receive locally for you are uploaded into your account immediately for complete viewing. If or when you get served with a lawsuit, we can email up to 4 people and your attorney at the same time for real time complete viewing of a lawsuit. You’ll receive annual report reminders. It’s the same price every year, and there are no weird fees or cancellation fees.

You’ll also see all the pre-populated forms and specific filing instructions on the thank you page, in your online account, and they are emailed to you immediately upon signing up for 1 year of registered agent service.

Does the California registered agent need to sign the filing?


How can I file the California Certificate of Authority?

By mail or in person.

What is the state agency that accepts the out of state registration?

California Secretary of State
Document Filing Support Unit
PO Box 944260 (Corps)
PO Box 944228 (LLCs)
Sacramento, CA 94244
1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916)657-5448

Do the signatures on the California corporation application need to be original?


Who has to sign the foreign corporation filing?

A corporate officer must sign the application form.

Are there any weird things about registering in California?

County filing or publication is not necessary, unless specifically required by the county in which your registered agent resides.

Are there ongoing California annual report and/or initial reporting requirements?

You must file your Initial Statement of Information within 90 days of registering your foreign corporation with the state. Your Statement of Information is then due annually by the end of the anniversary month in which you initially qualified to do business in California.

What are your registered agent service fees?

You’ll need to have an California registered agent for your California corporation. We charge $125 a year to act as your registered agent in California. It’s a flat rate, once a year fee, and includes more than other registered agents. Here’s a little more about our registered agent service.

We charge a $100 one-time filing service fee if you would like us to obtain the certificates needed from your home state, and register your company in any state you choose. We have offices in every state and can act as your registered agent and make your filings for you in any state. If you would like to register with multiple states at once, we can usually drop our filing service fee down.

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