Registered Agent in California

What is a California registered agent?

A California registered agent–also called an agent for service of process–is a third-party appointed by a business for the purpose of accepting legal notices and official correspondence. A registered agent in California must have a physical street address in the state (called a registered office) where documents can be served during regular business hours. State law requires that every business entity appoint a California registered agent when forming or registering a business.

Why do I need a California registered agent?

California state law (CA corporations code section 1700-1702) requires corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and any other business entities formed with the California secretary of state to have a designated registered agent. The law was put in place to ensure that all California businesses are properly notified and receive any services of process or official mail before lawsuits can move forward in court. Registered agents are responsible for accepting official government mail and service of process on behalf of your business.

What does a registered agent do?

  • After being appointed by you, your California registered agent will be the main point of contact between the state of California and your business. Your agent (in California, registered agents are sometimes referred to as “agents of process” or “statutory agents”) accepts all services of process and official mail from the state on your business’ behalf. Upon receipt of any notifications or lawsuits, the agent is then responsible for notifying you, the business owner.
  • Your California registered agent needs a system to deliver any notices or official mail to you immediately. And with so many ways to receive information today (cell, text, voip, emails, etc.), your registered agent should be able to deliver any notices in a way that suits your lifestyle. If you hire Northwest, we’ll provide you with an online account to help manage and organize any documents for your business.
  • To properly send a complaint or notice to your company, someone will have to look up your registered agent’s information, and these notices or complaints will be delivered according to the information on file. For this reason, your registered agent needs a reliable commercial address and office, and needs to be open during business hours to accept any documents on behalf of your business.
  • Your registered agent will receive all official mail from the California secretary of state concerning annual reports and state taxes. Should the secretary of state’s office have any questions for your business, you’re registered agent is who they’ll be calling.
  • Your registered agent service in California can file the formation paperwork for your business entity; however, there is no requirement to hire someone to form your California corporation or LLC.

Can I be my own registered agent in California?

Yes. California does, however, have restrictions on who can be a registered agent.

  • You, as an individual, can be your business’ agent of process, as can any adult who is a California resident, but your corporation can’t be its own agent.
  • The person or business must maintain normal business hours and can accept hand-delivered service of process (no P.O. boxes).
  • If a corporation is going to be a statutory agent for another business, it must first file a Section 1505 Certificate with the secretary of state.
  • LLCs cannot be registered agents in California.

Why would I hire a registered agent service?

  • If your business is web-based or doesn’t have a physical presence in California, the business needs an agent of process located inside state lines.
  • Some California business owners hire registered agent services because their business doesn’t keep regular business hours, so they are unable to receive notices and services of process in a timely fashion.
  • Many business owners desire privacy and don’t want their home or business address listed on public record as a point of contact, so they hire a registered agent.
  • Listing an employee or family member as your statutory agent could create a lot of unwanted distractions and tension. Do you really want your employee or relative knowing the intimate details your business’ lawsuits? Do you trust this person to notify you immediately if they receive a service of process? If not, you could miss a court deadline before realizing it.
  • If you don’t want the added responsibility of tracking mail and notices from the state, you can hire a registered agent to track important paperwork for you. Having an online account to help maintain your business is often worth the registered agent fee.

How much does Northwest Registered Agent charge for California Registered Agent Service?

$125 per year. No hidden fees, plus we offer automatic discounts for more states and companies as your portfolio grows.

What kind of service do I get for $125?

  • We have the most thorough alert system in the business. No joke. If you want us to bug you, or anyone else you elect, until you actually look at the documents we’ve uploaded to your account, we can accomplish this. We do not take our responsibility as your statutory agent lightly. When we receive a document for you, it starts a serious timeline and over the course of the next week, you’ll receive regular emails, phone calls, faxes, texts, and lastly mailed notices to look at your lawsuit. We can notify your California attorney for certain documents. You can customize the whole experience and decide who gets notified about what type of document. For heavy volume lawsuit clients, we have a special management portal where all your docs are OCR’d and customizable to meet your needs.
  • When we receive a notice from the state or a service of process for your business, within minutes we will scan the documents at our California office and upload them to your account. When this happens, you’ll instantly receive an email prompting you to log in to view the documents. We’re the only national registered agent service that uploads everything locally at our California office to your account in real time.
  • We also send you reminders when any business reports to the California secretary of state are due. We don’t upsell your annual report or dupe you into having us file it so we can charge more fees. We give you the link, the form, and the instructions to do it yourself and save money.
  • Once you hire Northwest Registered Agent, you will also have instant access to your online account. There, you’ll find every California state form you could file, and each form is pre-populated with our information to make filing simple. We also include ordering sheets and all kinds of California state forms that aren’t easy to find.
  • We’ve worked with the California secretary of state for years. They know us, we know them. We’re great at helping smooth out any bureaucratic wrinkles your business may encounter with the state.
  • We’re a national company, so you can add as many states as you need to get registered in and the forms to file and instructions are always there. Plus, as you get more states, you get an automatic discount. Having one vendor manage all your companies in one account will save you from a lot of headaches.
  • In your account, you’ll also find instructions and tips from our business professionals on the best ways to file forms with the states and make payments to the state with no additional markup.
  • Any time you have a question and can’t find an answer, you can call us and talk with a real, knowledgeable human being who will help you find whatever you need to know at no additional charge.

How will the state know who my registered agent is?

When you form an LLC or corporation in California, you will file official paperwork (articles of incorporation for corporations, articles of organization for an LLC) with the secretary of state where you’ll list this information.

Are there any business types that aren’t required to have a registered agent?

Registered agents aren’t required for sole proprietorships and general partnerships because those entities aren’t officially formed with the California secretary of state. Those entities, don’t offer the asset protection and potential tax benefits of an LLC or corporation, though. A California nonprofit also requires a registered agent.

Should I hire a registered agent before forming my corporation or LLC?

Yes. You will be unable to form your California LLC if you don’t have a designated registered agent (aka: statutory agent or agent of process) when forming your corporation or LLC.

Sometimes I see the name registered agent, agent of process, or statutory agent. Is there a difference?

Only in the name. All three come with the same job description.

What if I never get sued? Is it still worth hiring a registered agent service?

That depends on you. Some people rest easier knowing they’ll be notified right away if something urgent arises. An agent of process should also help keep you updated on any business reports due to California. And if you hire Northwest Registered Agent, in your online account, we’ll also provide you with great customer service, any form you could file with the state, and helpful tips for filing forms and paying the state with no additional fees. Plus, a registered agent service will simplify your life if you plan on operating in multiple states (you’ll also receive a discount with Northwest if you have registered agent service in multiple states).

What if I get sued all the time?

We don’t charge more for high volume clients. However, if you know you’re going to get served hundreds of times a year, we should create a custom price for you that makes sense for both of us. Our typical clients receive less than 15 lawsuits a year and never pay additional fees.

How is a registered agent served with a lawsuit?

A process server will deliver a summons form and a complaint form to the registered agent’s address. The registered agent will sign any of process server’s documents acknowledging receipt of the lawsuit. If you’ve hired Northwest, we’ll scan the documents, upload them to your account, and notify you immediately.

Want a visual? Check out our Registered Agent Infographic.

So I can really hire you for only $125 a year and there are no hidden fees?

Absolutely. In three minutes or less, you can signup online and instantly have access to your account.

What if I already have a registered agent, but I want to switch? Can you help me?

Definitely. Call us or find information on our website to discover what you need to do to change registered agents in California.

How much extra does Northwest charge to form my corporation or LLC?

$100 plus state filing fees.

Do I really need to hire someone else to do my business filing?

No. It comes down to your comfort level with filing government forms, which may sound intimidating, but throughout our website you’ll find all the resources you need to help you complete your filing. For instance, we show you where you can do a free business name search. When you sign up for registered agent service, we explain every step of forming your corporation or LLC in California.

One reason why some entrepreneurs do hire registered agents to complete their filing is their concerned about having their home or business address listed on public record with the state of California. If you hire a registered agent to do your filing, the registered agent’s address will be listed—not yours. But if this is no concern to you, then there is little advantage in having a professional service form your corporation or LLC.

Keep in mind, though, if you do hire us as your California registered agent, you’ll find all the forms you need to create your corporation or LLC in your online account. All forms are pre-populated with our information and you’ll find some helpful tips to make forming your business as simple as possible.

Registered Agent CA Service Includes:

  1. Instant California registered agent services annual price: $125.
  2. Instant California forms located directly in your online account to make a filing in California.
  3. State resources in your California registered agent service account, with self-filing instructions to help you.
  4. We send multiple statement of information report reminders, and you can also track your due dates in your online account.
  5. We locally scan ‘service of process’ and all documents to you in real-time for no added cost.
  6. And, most importantly…We’re just not annoying™.

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