California Registered Agent

Last updated on: March 10, 2021

Each stage of forming and operating a business entity is inextricably linked to constant interaction with the state. The first contact of an LLC in California with the state occurs when the Articles of Organization are filed. The second contact is when the license and permits are obtained, which allows the company to proceed with its operations. Regular reports, notifications, or approvals with the state are integral to the company’s very process. Given the high workload of business owners, these tasks can be delegated to a separate service or an individual. These are called registered agents (RAs).

In California, just like in any other state, a registered agent acts as an intermediary service to handle most of the paperwork between the company and the state. 

Read on to learn more about these agents and find out why you need one to run your business, as well as when and how you can hire a registered agent in California.

Who is a California Registered Agent?

A California registered agent is simply a person or an entity that accepts service of process, i.e. legal notice of a lawsuit, and other official paperwork on behalf of the company. In other words, it can be a person appointed to receive official documents addressed to a company. 

A California LLC registered agent is an intermediary between government agencies and an LLC. In addition to documents from the government, a California agent for service of process may also receive correspondence from other companies or individuals.

Having an agent for service of process in California is mandatory for doing business in the state, set out to ensure that you can contact the company in a timely manner.

All data about the registered agent should be specified in the constituent documents. Otherwise, if during the registration of a limited liability company, the Secretary of State does not find the necessary information, the application will be rejected.

You might want to know what is the involvement of a registered agent in the activities of the company. Check the list below to find out more about RA’s involvement in the company.

Official documentation acceptance 

According to state law, government correspondence is only delivered during business hours. This is a real problem for many business owners, who often spend a lot of time out of the office, or those whose work schedule differs from the usual. Having a registered agent solves this issue.

Keeping LLC owners updated

The need to do many things at once sometimes leads to absent-mindedness, which, in turn, can result in some papers going unattended. This will not happen if you hire a professional registered agent.

Monitoring deadlines and reports

Undoubtedly, tax forms and annual reports are an important part of any company’s performance. Alas, it’s so easy to forget about them in the hectic pace of work. If such a mistake is made, certain legal consequences will not be long in coming and can be quite unpleasant.

Providing a physical address or a primary office

This point is especially important for companies with online activities. Such companies often do not have a separate office and must therefore list their home address as their business address, which leads to confidentiality problems.

Representing the company in court

By law, all parties to a lawsuit must be properly notified to be able to participate and protect their interests. A registered agent will ensure that the owners of the LLC are given such notice.

Who can be a Registered Agent in California?

Although the laws governing registered agents are quite liberal, not every person or company can take on such an important role. To meet California registered agent requirements, a candidate must:

  • Be a California resident who is not younger than 18 years of age;
  • Have a physical address in California (i.e. not just a PO Box address);
  • Remain available during all business hours to receive correspondence addressed to the company in person and against signature.

In addition to the above, it’s important to remember that you can be your LLC’s registered agent in California as long as you have a physical address in the state. Alternatively, your friends or family members can be your LLC’s registered agents, too.

Thus, any person appointed to serve as a liaison between the company and the state can become California’s agent for service of process. It’s always up to you to decide whether it will be an individual or a professional organization. Obviously, both sides have their strengths and weaknesses, so think twice before making your choice.


Given that an agent of process in California has no special requirements for education, status, or profession, it can be almost anyone – a friend, partner, lawyer, accountant, family member, or even yourself. Anyone who meets the requirements and is willing to take on the responsibility will do.


  • Convenience. If you know your registered agent well, you will always know how to contact them. 
  • Trust. Mutual trust is the basis of successful cooperation.
  • Savings. By assuming the role of the agent yourself or entrusting it to someone else close to you, you will, obviously, save money on a registered agent service provider.


  • Inconstancy. A registered agent’s main duty is to receive all documents addressed to the company and notify it in a timely manner. This will quickly become complicated if the person you have appointed falls ill, goes on vacation, or moves to another state.
  • Low Reliability. If a registered agent can’t be in the office full time five days a week, there’s a risk of missing important notifications from the state. It will get even worse if an important document from state authorities will get lost.
  • Unwanted openness. If your home address is listed as the company’s office, it becomes part of the public record, which can cause additional problems.

Registered Agent Service

When communicating with people close to you, it’s often quite difficult to separate business and personal relationships, so a contract with an organization that provides registered agent services in California is the best option for effectively running your business. 

The variety of registered agent services is huge. You can hire either a local or a foreign company, as long as they are locally qualified in California.


  • Confidentiality. A registered agent service will indicate their address to the public instead of yours. As a result, you’re less likely to receive unsolicited mail. 
  • High reliability. After signing a contract between you and your chosen registered agent service, you can be sure that all your company documents are in perfect order.
  • Location. Leading companies offer their services in all or almost every state, thus, if you expand, there will be no need to look for a new registered agent. 


  • Cost. Professional services cost money. However, for a reasonable fee of $100-150 per year, you’ll get a comprehensive service that includes many useful features to help you grow and run your business much easier.

Take care of your LLC’s prosperity in advance and choose a registered agent that you can trust.

How to get a Free Agent for Service of Process in California

Using high-quality services without having to pay expensive fees – this is what every startup dreams about. And this is exactly the kind of appealing opportunity that some business formation services offer to their clients.

There’s a wide variety of online platforms ready to assist you with the paperwork, as well as form and run your business in California. Here are just a few of the best:

  • Incfile. This company offers a whole year of free registered agent service in California. A follow-up fee is $119 per year. IncFile has reasonable package prices and is always there to accept mail and communications for you during normal business hours, as well as provide proof of receipt for legal correspondence;
  • ZenBusiness. This company’s basic package is available even to small businesses and only costs $49 a year. It includes a registered agent, an operating agreement template, and a 100% accuracy guarantee;
  • Northwest Registered Agent. For $125 a year, Northwest will take care of all paperwork, provide real-time document tracking, friendly customer support, and help you with registration;
  • Swyft Filings. Their annual service fee is $149. By hiring this company as your registered agent, you’ll get regular reports and reminders in a timely manner (they are fast), secure document storage, great customer support, and a number of other useful business services.

All of the above-mentioned companies are experienced, reliable, and trusted in the US. They have excellent customer service and thousands of positive online reviews. In addition, their prices are quite affordable. If you choose one of these companies, an average incorporation price for a California LLC will be around $70, which is significantly less than what a regular lawyer can require.

Thus, hiring an online LLC formation service provider not only allows you to save money by keeping LLC registration costs to a minimum but also makes it a lot easier to keep your business running. You will no longer have to worry about the status of your documents or stress over meeting deadlines.

Agent for Service of Process. Changing and Resignation

There are various reasons to change your agent for service of process: 

  • resignation;
  • price increase; 
  • loss of agent status;
  • unfair performance, etc.

Keep in mind that a registered agent should not inform an LLC of the resignation in advance. This can turn into a serious problem. If you do not find a suitable replacement within 30 days of the agent’s resignation, the legal consequences will be extremely unpleasant, up to administrative dissolution.

There are several ways to find a replacement for your registered agent:

  • Contract with a company that provides professional registered agent services. In this case, you won’t have to worry about anything: a new registered agent will send all the necessary documents on your behalf;
  • Choose an individual that meets all legal requirements for a registered agent and file the documents with the Secretary of State.

There is no special document required for changing a registered agent – this means that you can send the Statement of Information (LLC-12) either online or by mail. Typically, all LLCs file the document once every two years, but you can re-submit a paper copy since the information in the document has to be changed.

Have any questions or concerns?

We all know that when it comes to business, it can be unpredictable. You can run into various problems and sometimes, you just can’t find any solution on your own. But there’s a chance to ask the Secretary of State for help by using one of the suggested ways:

Check out the official website, which has a lot of useful and publicly available information regarding LLC activities. 

  • Pay particular attention to the FAQ page to see if there is a description of a situation that’s similar to yours.
  • Make a phone call. Sometimes a conversation with an expert not only helps to understand your problem but also find the most appropriate way to resolve it. You can contact the Sacramento office at (916) 657-5448 and ask them any LLC-related questions.

Also, Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness, and other companies that offer their registered agent services have really caring customer service teams. Just call or email them to get a qualified response!

Senior Business Tax Writer, etc
Jean Wilson Murray
(323) 789-5289
Senior Business Tax Writer, etc
Jean Wilson Murray

In this IncFile vs ZenBusiness review, we're going to compare two of the most popular LLC formation services based on pricing, features, and drawing out differences and similarities to let you see which is most suitable for you and your business.

You can learn more about @Mike here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *