Getting Started


  • Candidates MUST file Form 501 before soliciting or accepting contributions.
  • Candidates MUST deposit funds into the campaign bank account before spending money on the campaign. Candidates who spend money out of pocket for campaign expenses are subject to fines.


Before beginning your campaign, you must declare which office you are seeking. You must also set up and register your committee, and disclose information about your personal income and assets. To get your campaign started, complete and submit the forms noted below. See form instructions for information on how to complete the forms and where to file them.

Where to file these forms:

Form 501

Local candidates file their Form 501 with their local jurisdiction. State candidates will file with the Secretary of State's office.

Form 410

All candidates and treasurers that anticipate reaching the $2,000 threshold must file a Form 410 with the Secretary of State's office.

Form 700

Local candidates that must file a Candidate Form 700 will file with their local jurisdiction. Those who are running for state offices will file their Form 700 with the FPPC.

ID Number

Once you have submitted your Form 410 to the Secretary of State (SOS), you can visit their website to find your committee ID number. Enter the name of your committee in the search bar of the Cal-Access database. If your ID number has been issued, the search results will show it next to your committee name. If the system cannot find your ID number, the SOS may not have had time to issue it yet, or there was an error on the Form 410 and they have sent you a letter via USPS asking you to correct the error and re-submit the form.

If you would like to receive a copy of your approved Form 410 from the Secretary of State, send a self-addressed stamped envelope with your original Form 410.

Filing Deadlines

Throughout the campaign, you must file statements to report contributions and expenditures. Find the filing schedule for your campaign on our website.

Government Code Sections

The following sections can be found in the Political Reform Act.

Section 82007      Candidate; Definition
Section 82013      Committee; Definition
Section 82016      Controlled Committee; Definition
Section 82047.5   Primarily Formed Committee; Definition
Section 82048.7   Sponsored Committee; Definition
Section 82050      State Candidate
Section 84101      Statement of Organization; Filing
Section 84102      Statement of Organization; Contents
Section 84103      Statement of Organization; Amendments
Section 84106      Sponsored Committee; Identification
Section 84206      Candidates Who Receive or Spend Less than $2,000
Section 85200      Statement of Intention to be a Candidate
Section 85201      Campaign Bank Account
Section 87201      Candidates (Statement of Economic Interests)
Section 89512      Expenses Associated with Seeking or Holding Office

FPPC Regulations

The following are from FPPC Regulations.

  • 18402  Committee Name
  • 18404.1 Termination and Reopening of Committees 
  • 18406  Candidates/Officeholders Receiving/Spending Less than $2,000 in a Calendar Year
  • 18410  Statement of Organization 
  • 18419  Sponsored Committees
  • 18421.4 Reporting Cumulative Amounts for State, City, and County Elections and State, City, and County Recipient Committees
  • 18421.8 Reporting an Expenditure by a Candidate Controlled General Purpose Ballot Measure Committee
  • 18430 Committee Controlled by More than One Candidate
  • 18520 Statement of Intention to Be a Candidate
  • 18521 Establishment of Separate Controlled Committee for Each Campaign Account 
  • 18521.5 Ballot Measure Committees Controlled by Candidates for Elective State, City, or County Office 
  • 18523.1 Written Solicitation for Contributions 
  • 18530.2 Transfer of Funds Raised Prior to Proposition 34 and Assembly Bill 571 Limits
  • 18524  Investment and Expenditure of Candidates' Campaign Funds
  • 18530.8 Personal Loans 
  • 18531 Returning of Excessive Contributions 
  • 18531.2  Refunding General Election Contributions 
  • 18531.5  Recall Elections 
  • 18531.61 Treatment of Debts Outstanding After an Election 
  • 18531.62 Elected State Officeholder Bank Accounts 
  • 18531.63 Treatment of Debts Outstanding After a City or County Election for Offices Subject to AB 571– Prior to January 1, 2021 
  • 18531.64  Treatment of Debts Outstanding After a City or County Election 
  • 18535 Restrictions on Contributions Between Candidates 
  • 18536. Transfer and Attribution of Contributions 
  • 18537.1 Carry Over of Contributions
  • 18545 Contribution Limit and Voluntary Expenditure Ceiling Amounts 
  • 18531.5 Recall Elections

The rules and regulations discussed on our website pertaining to those required by the Political Reform Act. Your city or county may have its own campaign ordinance. Please ask your local filing official if there are additional requirements that your campaign must follow. If the local rules are more restrictive than those of the Political Reform Act, your campaign must adhere to them.

Assembly Bill 571 applies a default campaign contribution limit to city and county candidates when the city or county has not already enacted a contribution limit. See the FPPC’s list of cities and counties that have enacted contribution limits. The posted links and ordinances are the latest versions provided to the FPPC. For questions interpreting any of these provisions, or to check on any amendments to the ordinances, please contact the local jurisdiction directly. 

Assembly Bill 2151 requires local government agencies to post campaign statements and reports on their agency’s website, within 72 hours of each applicable filing deadline, if they are filed in paper format. See the FPPC’s list of local agency filing systems.


This toolkit provides guidance and a general overview of the rules for campaigns, but it does not replace any requirements under the Political Reform Act or Fair Political Practices Commission Regulations.  Information here should be used in conjunction with a careful review of the applicable laws.

How to Request Advice

If you have questions about your obligations under the Act you can request advice directly from FPPC staff

Fast Facts!

Print our Campaign Basics fact sheet.

Check List!

Print our Local Candidate Commitee Checklist.