California Registered Agent

LLCs in California are legally required to appoint a California registered agent — known as an agent for service of process — to receive service of process.

Business owners often elect to hire a service to fulfill this requirement. Compared to acting as your own registered agent, a service:

  • Increases privacy and reduces risk
  • Stores documents securely, one
  • Offers affordable rates — usually $10–$15 per month. 

We help you make the best choice for your business.

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers free registered agent services with LLC or corporation formation ($29 plus state fees).

Choosing a Registered Agent in California

A California registered agent is a person or business entity designated to receive service of process and other official documents on behalf of your business. 

In California, all corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and other types of entities are required to appoint and maintain an agent as part of their formation filing with the California Secretary of State.

Businesses can enlist a registered agent service or appoint their own. An agent must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a physical address in California
  • Be available during normal business hours

Registered Agent Services

  • Convenience: Available for service of process during business hours at the registered address, so you will not need to be there yourself.
  • Privacy: Any information regarding your service's name and address will be made public instead of your name and address. 
  • Compliance and Online Storage: Your agent will compile, manage, and file all documentation pertaining to your company so that you can put your attention to the accomplishment of your business.

Let’s Find the Right Registered Agent for Your Business

We’ve tested and reviewed the most popular registered agent services.

Can You Be Your Own Registered Agent?

The option of being your own registered agent is technically available to those interested, but many choose to hire a registered agent service instead of doing it themselves.

The most significant advantage of being your own agent is that you’ll be conserving money. However, this service is pretty inexpensive, costing around $10/month.

The main upside to being your own registered agent is the cost savings. The average service charges about $130 per year, or about $10 per month. By acting as your own registered agent, you can allocate the $10 elsewhere. 

Any cost savings need to be weighed against any disadvantages:

  • You will be legally required to be at the listed address during regular business hours to receive service of process.
  • Keeping up with official records can be time-consuming.
  • If the paperwork is not completed as promptly as required, that can cause legal liability along with fines and penalties.
  • It may not be possible for you to access the same resources as a third-party service.

When forming a new LLC, many formation services offer a free year of registered agent services. These formation services charge as little as $29 (plus state fees). Using such a service makes hiring a registered agent service free.

If you are forming an LLC but prefer to file the paperwork yourself and act as your own registered agent, take a look at our How to Start an LLC in California guide.

Best California Registered Agent Service

Northwest is the best registered agent service based on overall quality and transparent pricing. Northwest offers a seamless user experience and best-in-industry customer service and privacy protection

When you choose Northwest as your registered agent service, you'll get an online account to access essential documents, mail forwarding, and business address services. 

Northwest’s virtual mailbox service will scan your mail and forward it to you electronically. This means that you can keep track of your mail no matter where you are in the world.

Registered Agent Standard

$125 Annually

Get Started

Northwest Logo

LLC Formation + 1 yr Free Registered Agent Service

One Year Free Registered Agent with LLC Formation $29 (Plus State Fees)

Get Started

Northwest Logo

Registered Agent Services Offer Many Benefits

Many businesses choose to use a registered agent service when they form an LLC. This is because it can offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Legal compliance: The service will ensure that you do not miss an important legal document or notification (e.g., service of process, etc.) as a result of not being in your office (or as a result of a human error). 
  • Improved privacy: If you act as your own agent, your name and address will become public record on the California Business Search website. Using a service will help keep your information private, offering a physical street address for your limited liability company. 
  • Discretion: When it comes to legal disputes, you will want to avoid receiving lawsuit-related documents in front of your clients and/or some employees. California registered agent services accept service of process at their business address.
  • Better storage: Your commercial registered agent service will generally scan all documents received and upload them online in PDF form. This means that you will always be able to access them online, and won’t have to worry about an employee accidentally losing an important document. 

A service can also be beneficial if you plan to expand into other states as a foreign LLC. This is because, otherwise, you would need to find an individual or business entity that is a resident — or is allowed to transact business — in each state that you want to register in. 

How to Elect a Registered Agent in California

For your LLC in California, you have to elect your registered agent when completing your LLC’s Articles of Organization. The Articles of Organization is the main business formation document for LLCs in California.

Electing an Agent Online

You can form your LLC online on the California Secretary of State website ($0 filing fee required until June 30, 2023). Your registered agent’s name and contact information will be requested under Article III of the online form:

An image of the online LLC filing form for the state of California

Electing an Agent by Mail or In Person

To form your California LLC by mail, download Form LLC-1: Articles of Organization ($0 filing fee required until June 30, 2023), fill out the required fields, and submit a physical copy to the California Secretary of State. Your agent’s name and contact information will be requested in Article 3.

An image of the manual LLC filing form for the state of California

How to Change Your Registered Agent in California

You can update your agent by filing a California Statement of Information. Make sure to then submit it to the California Secretary of State along with the $25 (corporations) or $20 (LLCs) filing fee.

The form you file will depend on whether you are changing a corporate, nonprofit, or LLC registered agent:

This can be done online, by mail, or in person.

bizFileOnline Portal

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

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

Check out our full guide on how to change registered agents in California.

Registered Agent FAQ

Can I be my own registered agent in California?

While it is possible to act as your own registered agent in California, it is important to consider all the requirements and potential implications. Most businesses hire a registered agent service that offers a California business address and other premium services for compliance reasons.

Who can be a California registered agent?

In California, a registered agent can be a person or business entity that has a physical address in the state and who is available during regular business hours. Business entities must elect an individual who is at least 18 years old and a California resident.

Does California need a registered agent?

Yes, California requires all corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) to appoint and continuously maintain a registered agent in the state. The agent must have a physical address located in California where service of process can be accepted during normal business hours. Failure to comply can result in administrative penalties imposed by the state.

How much does it cost to get a registered agent in California?

The exact cost of a registered agent in California will vary depending on the service provider. Generally, you can expect to pay an annual fee of between $100–$200 for this service. Additionally, some services may require an additional setup fee or other fees for added features or services. 

How do I find a registered agent in California?

It is important to note that while you may select any individual or entity as your registered agent, it is wise to use a professional service provider who specializes in this type of work. A California registered agent service is more reliable and can provide additional benefits such as help with filing documents and other related services.

What is an agent for service of process?

An agent for service of process, also called a registered agent, statutory agent, resident agent, or process server, is an individual or organization responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of a California business. 

What are the state requirements for becoming an agent for service of process in California?

For a business or individual to be considered a registered agent in California, a Registered Corporate Agent for Service of Process Certificate (Form 1505) must be filled out and filed with the California Secretary of State. What’s more, you must be at least 18, a resident of California, and available to receive service of process during regular business hours.


Have a Question? Leave a Comment!