California Registered Agent

A smiling California registered agent

A California registered agent acts as an official point of contact for a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or nonprofit

A registered agent is responsible for accepting important correspondence like service of process.

Recommended: Get free registered agent services for a year when you form an LLC with Northwest Registered Agent ($39 plus state fees).

What Is a California Registered Agent?

A registered agent, known as an agent for service of process in California, primarily acts as your business’s main point of contact with the Secretary of State. Your registered agent will be responsible for receiving important tax notifications and compliance information.

A registered agent’s most important role is to accept service of process. Service of process is the action of informing an individual or entity that there's a pending lawsuit against him or her, or in this case, against one's company.

Business owners must appoint a registered agent when they form an LLC or corporation.

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

Before you decide to hire a California registered agent service — also called a commercial registered agent — it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

  • Privacy: Your registered agent’s address will be listed on the public record — not your personal or office address. This is especially important if your business operates out of your home.
  • Focus on Growth: A professional registered agent service will send you regular compliance reminders and notify you of any requirements needed to keep your organization in good standing. You, on the other hand, will be focusing on growing your business.
  • Discretion: When a business owner acts as their own registered agent, service of process could be delivered to your home or in front of employees or customers at your office.
  • Convenience: Hiring a registered agent service allows you to keep a flexible schedule. A registered agent is required to be available at their given address during normal business hours.
  • National Support: If you think you may want to grow your organization nationally, a national registered agent service will be able to continue service there.

Disadvantages

We aren’t sure there are any real disadvantages to hiring a registered agent service. The only downside is that hiring a commercial registered agent service costs money, but the time you will save can outweigh that cost. And after all, time is money.

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service in California?

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent’s competitive prices and great customer service are also a solid choice for California businesses. 

Northwest’s online form system only requires customers to provide information once, which then auto-populates in every form that asks for that info. They also scan every document locally — not just certain documents — to make sure that you never miss a filing. Their discount on multiple-state service is also a nice perk.

On top of all that, Northwest’s customer service is praised for being personable, knowledgeable, and timely in their responses.

Are you forming an LLC?

Northwest Registered Agent to form your LLC for $39 and get one full year of registered agent services free.

Form an LLC With Northwest

Just looking for a registered agent?

Northwest Registered Agent offers registered agent services for $125 per year.

Northwest Registered Agent Services

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in California?

You can be your own registered agent. Your friend can be your registered agent, too. Really, anyone can be a registered agent as long as they meet these three requirements: 

  • They’re at least 18 years old.
  • They have a physical address in California.
  • They’re always available during regular business hours at the address you provide.

Should I Be My Own Registered Agent?

Being your own registered agent will work for a handful of business owners. A registered agent needs to be organized, available, and aware. Most importantly, they need to have the time to be all of these things too.

If you miss a filing deadline or lose a document, you could put your compliance status at risk and the state could revoke your LLC or corporate status. 

Many business owners choose to hire a professional registered agent service so they can focus on growing their business without the fear of missing a notice or deadline.

Is a Registered Agent Liable?

A registered agent is ONLY liable for any losses incurred by failing to notify the business of service of process documents in a timely manner. The registered agent may have to pay damages to the court in this situation.

How to Elect a Registered Agent in California

In California, LLCs, corporations, and nonprofit organizations elect their registered agents on the formation document for each type of business entity.

Note: California has waived formation filing fees from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.

Elect a Registered Agent for Your LLC

Complete Form LLC-1: Articles of Organization. Your registered agent information will go into Article 3

The cost to file the LLC Articles of Organization is $70 for online and mail submissions and $85 for in-person submissions.

File by Mail

Submit your LLC Articles of Organization to the address below:

Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings
P.O. Box 944260
Sacramento, CA 94244-2600

File In Person

Submit your LLC Articles of Organization at the address below:

Secretary of State
1500 11th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

File Online

Form your LLC on the California Secretary of State website. 

You will need to set up an account to file online.

Elect a Registered Agent for Your Corporation

Complete Form ARTS-GS: Articles of Incorporation of a General Stock Corporation. Your registered agent information will go into Article 3

The cost to file the For-Profit Articles of Incorporation is $100 for online and mail submissions and $115 for in-person submissions.

File by Mail

Submit your For-Profit Articles of Incorporation to the address below:

Secretary of State
Business Entities Filings Unit
P.O. Box 944260
Sacramento, CA 94244-2260

File In Person

Submit your General Stock Corporation Articles of Incorporation at the address below:

Secretary of State
1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

File Online

Form your corporation on the California SOS website. 

You will need to set up an account to file online.

Elect a Registered Agent for Your Nonprofit

Complete Form ARTS-PB-501(c)3: Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation. Your registered agent information will go into Article 3

The cost to file the Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation is $30 for online and mail submissions and $45 for in-person submissions.

File by Mail

Submit your Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation to the address below:

Secretary of State
Business Entities Filing Unit
P.O. Box 944260
Sacramento, CA 94244-2600

File In Person

Submit your Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation at the address below:

Secretary of State
1500 11th Street, 3rd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

File Online

Form your nonprofit on the California SOS website. 

You will need to set up an account to file online.

How to Change Your Registered Agent in California

To legally change your California registered agent, simply update your Statement of Information and submit it to the California Secretary of State along with the filing fee. 

You can file online or by submitting the applicable form using one of the addresses below:

Mail

Secretary of State
Statement of Information Unit
P.O. Box 944230
Sacramento, CA 94244-2300

In Person

Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

The filing cost is $20.

California Registered Agent FAQ

Who can be a registered agent?

In the state of California, anyone may serve as your registered agent as long as they’re a state resident and available at their listed address during standard business hours during the week. We do, however, recommend all LLCs, registered nonprofits, and corporations use a registered agent service.

How much does a California registered agent cost?

Although using a registered agent service can cost between $50 and $300 per year, it could save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

How much does it cost to change my registered agent?

Changing your California registered agent with the Secretary of State costs $20.

Does registered agent mean owner?

No. A business owner can be a registered agent, but a registered agent is not necessarily a business owner.

Can anyone be a registered agent?

Anyone can be a registered agent as long as they meet these requirements: 

  • They’re at least 18 years old. 
  • They have a physical address in California. 
  • They’re always available during regular business hours at the address you provide.

Should I be my own registered agent?

If you plan on having a lot of free time to handle administrative work and you plan to always be at the address you provide during business hours, day after day, week after week, then it would be ok to be your own registered agent. Most business owners can't make that commitment, but there are always unique cases.

If you plan to hit the ground running and grow your business like nobody’s business, then we HIGHLY recommend hiring a registered agent.

Is a registered agent liable?

A registered agent is ONLY liable for any losses incurred by failing to notify the business of service of process documents in a timely manner. The registered agent may have to pay damages to the court in this situation.

What is service of process?

Service of process is the action of informing an individual or entity that there's a pending lawsuit against him or her, or in this case, against one's company.

What is a statutory agent?

A statutory agent is another name for a registered agent.

What is a resident agent?

A resident agent is another name for a registered agent.

What is a service of process agent?

A service of process agent is another name for a registered agent. California calls its registered agents “agents for service of process.”