How to Find the Best Registered Agent in California

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by How to Start an LLC Team
Last updated: June 19th, 2024
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This guide will help you find the best registered agent in California. We’ll explore key factors to consider, evaluate top providers, and equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision for your business’s registered agent needs.

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What is a California registered agent?

In California, all formal businesses must appoint a registered agent. The California Secretary of State defines a registered agent in California as an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important documents and service of process for a company.

A registered agent is the point of contact for a company. An agent must be available from 9 am to 5 pm every weekday to receive important documents that include:

A registered agent is physically present in California

A registered agent in California accepts legal notices and other documents during regular business hours on behalf of a company which means they are physically present.

You can choose to list your registered agent information in the California business entity search instead of your California business address.

The registered agent is your point of contact

A registered agent in California is the point of contact and the entity that accepts subpoenas and legal documents on behalf of a business.

A business has 30 days to respond to a subpoena in California.

Failure to respond to a summons can result in default judgments and a bar on doing business in the state in the future.

Agent services save time and money

The annual tax is due biennially by the end of the anniversary month of your LLC or corporation.

A registered agent will send a notification when it is near the due date so they can help you file the paperwork on time and pay the applicable fees.

Cost of a registered agent in California

You can choose to appoint yourself as your own registered agent free of charge. Or, you can elect to pay an agent or service, which costs between $50 and $500 annually.

A California registered agent must be at least 18 and have a physical street address. A family member or friend can act as a registered agent at no cost if they meet California’s requirements.

When to appoint a registered agent

A limited liability company (LLC) in California names its registered agent when completing and submitting the Articles of Organization to the Secretary of State. You will need to provide contact information.

A corporation in California lists the registered corporate agent information on the Articles of Incorporation.

According to the California code, all business structures must appoint a registered agent upon formation.

Other business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Partnerships
  • Nonprofit

How does a California LLC appoint a registered agent?

In California, an LLC files Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State upon formation.

File Articles of Organization

You will download and complete the Secretary of State Articles of Organization limited liability company form. The filing fee in California for Articles of Organization is $70.

Mailing address:
California Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings
P.O. Box 944228
Sacramento, CA 94244

Office address:
1500 11th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Mon-Fri. 8 am to 5 pm.

Or, you can use the California Secretary of State’s website to file the LLC’s certificate of organization.

Appoint the registered agent

Section 3 of the Articles of Organization form will ask for information regarding who is responsible for accepting the service of process.

  • Registered agent address
  • Registered agent name

Pay California filing fees

The state fee for filing your California Articles of Organization is $70.

California offers expedited business services for an additional cost – same-day $750.

The cost to file California Articles of Organization is $70.

How to change registered agents in California

If you change agents or the agent changes their address, you must officially submit a statement of information with the updates.

Submit the statement of information online

You can use the California Secretary of State website to submit the statement of information if you switch registered agents.

Filing online provides same-day business filing processing.

Submit the statement of information by mail or in person

You can download the complete statement of information and submit it to the Secretary of State by mail or in person.

The form you will download will depend on your business structure.

The Secretary of State will periodically ask for a statement of information. Your registered agent will notify you when it comes due.

The fee for filing the periodic statement of information is $25 for corporations and $20 for LLCs and nonprofits, payable by check or money order.

California does not charge if you file the statement of change to switch agents outside the filing period.

If you file by mail, the California Secretary of State may take several weeks to process the statement of information form.

The California Secretary of State charges $25 for LLCs to file the statement of information.

How to withdraw consent to act as a registered agent in California

You can withdraw consent by completing the resignation of agent for service of process form and submitting it to the California Secretary of State.

California does not charge to resign as an agent.

Benefits of appointing a registered agent in California

  • You remain in compliance and good status

The California annual tax will come due biennially by the end of the month of the LLC or corporation formation anniversary. Your registered agent will notify you when it comes due and assist you in filing the proper paperwork.

A California business must remain in good status, or good standing, to maintain liability protection and avoid penalties and possible involuntary dissolution.

  • It keeps your private address out of public record

Small business owners that work from home risk their personal addresses becoming public records in California. All business addresses are searchable using the California bizFile website.

The public can search the database by business name or file number.

A registered agent service’s registered office address becomes the public record rather than yours if you choose.

  • You get complete discretion

A registered agent accepts legal documents from process servers on the behalf of your business so that the interaction is out of the view of customers and clients and maintains your good reputation.

  • You can enjoy flexibility in your work schedule

According to California state law, a registered agent must be available during regular business hours every work day of the year. If you appoint yourself, the required availability is up to you.

California registered agent services are available during those normal business hours so that you can freely come and go from your office.

  • You have quick and easy access to your certificate of status

The best-registered agent service will make your certificate of status and Articles of Organization available on your online account to access at your convenience to make opening business bank accounts easy.

  • Forming a foreign corporation or LLC is faster

You must appoint a registered agent when you form a foreign LLC in a different state. If you already have one, then the process goes quicker and smoother.


How long does it take to process the California Articles of Incorporation?

It will take the California Secretary of State 5 business days to process the Articles of Incorporation. The office does offer expedited services for additional fees.

What is an agent of service in California?

Commonly in California, a registered agent is called an agent of service. You may also hear them called a resident agent or statutory agent.

Can my business entity be its own agent for service of process?

An LLC cannot be its own registered agent. However, an owner or board member can act as a registered agent as long as they meet the California state requirements.

Find the best registered agent in your state

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