A CA Agent for Service of Process provides various services, such as accepting formal documents and correspondence from the California Sec State.

Your corporation must have California Registered Agent services at all times. You appoint one when you first start your business. You can also replace your existing Registered Agent after formation, provided there is no period during which your business is without an Agent for Service of Process.

 

CA Agent for Service of Process Requirements

  • Every corporation, domestic or foreign, must have an Agent for Service of Process with a registered office within the State of California at all times.
  • The Registered Agent can be a domestic or foreign (licensed to transact business in the state) artificial legal entity (corporation, LLC, LP or LLP) or a natural person.
  • If the Agent for Service of Process is a company, they must be authorized to conduct business in California.
  • If the Registered Agent is a person, they must live in California.
  • The Agent for Service of Process must be available in person to sign for any correspondence during regular business hours.
  • The Registered Office must be located in the State of California at a street address (a P.O. Box is not acceptable).

The address for your California Registered Agent doesn't need to be the same as your business address. In fact, you can use a California virtual mailbox for your business address.

Important: A virtual mailbox is not a replacement for an Agent for Service of Process. They perform two separate functions and per state law, you are required to have a Registered Agent.

What California Registered Agents Do

The primary function of an Agent for Service of Process is to accept official correspondence and documentation, including but not limited to:

  • State and federal government correspondence and notices
  • Service of process notices (e.g., if your corporation is sued or required to appear in court)
  • Correspondence from the California Sec State
  • Tax forms and requests to complete permits, company filings and reports

Having a Registered Agent also allows you to prove to the state that your business exists.

Incfile Provides Free California Registered Agent Services for the First Year

Incfile provides complete Registered Agent services for any CA corporation formed in the state. Even better, if you form your corporation through Incfile, your Registered Agent is completely free for the first year and only $119 a year after that.

Incfile is authorized to conduct business in California and able to legally act as your Registered Agent. Here’s what our CA Agent for Service of Process services include:

A digital dashboard where you can access, store and retrieve any information we’ve received for your business

An always-available Registered Agent who can receive correspondence, documents and legal proceedings on your corporation's behalf

Email notification whenever we receive documents for your business

Automatic forwarding of all legal correspondence, documentation and information directly to you

 

Appointing a Registered Agent for Your Corporation

When you're setting up a corporation in California, you must appoint an Agent for Service of Process at that time. You can change the agent at any time after that. Here’s how.

Assign a Registered Agent When You Form Your Corporation

Your business needs to have a Registered Agent as soon as it’s formed. You can do this two ways:

1
File your Articles of Incorporation with the California Sec State

When you create your business, you must include Agent for Service of Process information in your Articles of Incorporation.

2
Get a Free Registered Agent When You Incorporate with Incfile

If you form your business through us, you’ll get our Registered Agent service free for one year. We’ll use the information you provide to complete and file your Articles of Incorporation for you.

Assign a New Registered Agent After Incorporation

You can also assign someone else as your CA Agent for Service of Process after you’ve incorporated. There are a couple of ways to do this.

1
Choose a New Registered Agent Service and Update the Information with the California Sec State

Once you’ve chosen a new Registered Agent, you update the change when you file your Statement of Information with the Secretary of State. You can make your filing online within your corporation's six-month filing window.

2
Sign up for Incfile’s Registered Agent Service and We’ll File the Change on Your Behalf

When you use our Registered Agent service, we take care of all the forms for you. We’ll collect the pertinent information about your business, complete the appropriate paperwork and send it to the California Sec State on your behalf. We’ll notify you when we officially become your Agent for Service of Process.

Search for a California Registered Agent

In some situations, you may need to know the name of the Registered Agent that represents another CA corporation. You'll find this information in the state's business database.

If you can’t find the Registered Agent information there, you can request it from the Secretary of State.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Registered Agent?

If you don’t assign or provide details of an Agent for Service of Process to the Secretary of State, you may be subject to certain ramifications, including but not limited to:

  • Getting sued or served and not knowing about it. You could lose to a default judgment in your absence if your LLC is sued and you don’t respond.
  • Falling out of good standing with the California Sec State.The state may revoke your right to do business if you don’t respond to certain correspondence (such as a request for your annual report).
  • Losing your status as a corporation in the state. A Registered Agent is evidence to the state that your business exists. Without it, you could lose your business entity protections and your corporation may be dissolved.
 

Acting as Your Own Registered Agent

You can be the Agent for Service of Process for your California corporation if you have a business office in the state. There can be some drawbacks to this approach:

  • Someone must always be available during business hours at the California address to sign for important documents.
  • The Agent for Service of Process must have a physical street address in California. If you’re forming a corporation outside the state, you’ll need to use an in-state Registered Agent.
  • The Registered Agent’s name and address are part of the public record and available through the California Sec State website. If you prefer to keep your name and address private, you should use a Registered Agent service.
  • If you change your business address or move out of state, you need to file additional documentation with the Secretary of State for the new address. This won't be necessary if you use a Registered Agent service, making a move or address change much simpler.

Other Useful Resources

FAQs About California Registered Agents

Do I Really Need a California Registered Agent?

Yes. All business entities are required to have an Agent for Service of Process (Registered Agent). This is mandated by the California Sec State. You'll find more information above.

When Do I Need to Assign a CA Agent for Service of Process?

You must assign a Registered Agent when you form your business with the Secretary of State. You can change your agent afterward by updating the information in your annual Statement of Information. If you form your business through Incfile, we’ll file all the necessary forms on your behalf. You'll find more information above.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in California?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it for the reasons listed above.

Does the Registered Agent for My California-Based Corporation Need to Have an Address in California?

Yes. And if you use a company as your Registered Agent, that company must be legally able to conduct business in the state. You'll find more information above.

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