If you’re starting an LLC in California, the business entity formation process is one of the first and most important hurdles. This step can beter ...
California Registered Agent for an LLC
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on July 1, 2022
Updated on February 25, 2024
If you’re thinking of forming a limited liability company (LLC), you should know that in California, you will need a registered agent to handle all of your official paperwork. The registered agent, which is also required for corporations, LLPs, and nonprofits, is a specific role that involves several key considerations and restrictions, as detailed below.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent, also known as an agent for service of process, is a person or business authorized to accept legal, tax, and financial documents on behalf of your business. Some states do not require a registered agent, but in California, your LLC needs a registered agent.
California’s Registered Agent Requirements
In California, you can be your own registered agent for your LLC, or it can be another member of the LLC, an outside individual or a qualified business service.
In California, the requirements to be a registered agent are:
- Must be 18 years or older
- Have a physical address in the state and be a resident of California
- Be personally available during normal business hours
- If a corporation, it must be a registered 1505 corporate agent in California
- The LLC itself cannot be its own registered agent
Responsibilities of a Registered Agent
Essentially, the purpose of a registered agent is to ensure compliance with state laws and to make sure all official matters are handled in a timely manner. Having one person or entity handle state documents helps ensure nothing is missed, helping avoid potential potholes.
Documents that the agent may receive include:
- Tax forms and documents
- Government correspondence
- Legal documents
- Summons documents in case of a lawsuit
Advantages of a Registered Agent Service
A registered agent service is a professional service that will handle official correspondence and documents for your business. Registered agents ensure that all official correspondence is handled on time and keep copies of documents for you. They also keep track of deadlines and send reminders of things you need to file, such as tax forms and annual reports.
A registered agent service will help keep you in compliance with the law and save you time by keeping track of key documents and filing deadlines. This also frees you up to focus on growing your business. The agency will also offer support if problems or questions come up.
Using an agency enables you to have flexible hours. If you are your own registered agent, you must be personally available from 8 AM to 5 PM at your registered agent address. If you use an agency, they are available during those hours and you are free to focus on growing your business.
Choose Your Registered Agent Service in California
If you use a national agency, they will help you form an LLC or corporation in another state or multiple states where you do not have residency. A good agency also offers a level of privacy, as you would never be served with a summons at your business in front of customers or employees.
You need a service that has an office in California, but you may want to choose a national service so you have the flexibility to form LLCs in other states. Other than that, you should choose a service that offers:
- Compliance management, to send reminders of key deadlines
- Document copying and digital storage so you can access documents online
- Availability during the required hours, with prompt customer service
- Service in all 50 states and US territories
- Registered agent service starts at $99 per year
- Great customer support
- The site is easy to use (only takes several minutes to set it up)
Northwest Registered Agent
- Registered agent service costs $125 per year
- Transparent pricing/no hidden fees
- Commitment to privacy
- If you form your LLC through Incfile, registered agent is free for the first year. Otherwise, it’s $119 per year.
- An easy to use digital dashboard
- An always-available California registered agent
- Registered agent service costs $99 per year (discount if you choose 2+ years)
- Local registered agent office in Sacramento, California
- Quick and easy service
How to Appoint Your Registered Agent in California
In California, you’re required to enter your registered agent name and address on your articles of organization. Once your LLC is approved by the state, your registered agent is officially recorded as your registered agent.
You can file your articles of organization online or file by mail. If you file online, you’ll need to register for an account on the site.
If you choose to file by mail, you can download the form and mail it, with the $70 fee, to:
Secretary of State Business Programs
Division Business Entities
1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
P.O. Box 944260, Sacramento, CA 94244-2600
Once you have chosen your registered agent, whether it’s you, another member, or a professional service, you do not need to register the agent with the state. Instead, in California, your registered agent just needs to be named on your articles of organization, along with address and other relevant information, and the state will record this as your LLC’s official registered agent.
In California, having a registered agent is legally mandated. If you would prefer not to deal with the added hassle yourself, you might consider hiring a professional service, which will ensure your LLC’s compliance with all state regulations and renewal requirements and simplify expansion beyond your state.
Keep in mind that registered agents provide valuable, and necessary, services for your business.
California Registered Agent for an LLC
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