A California Agent for Service of Process provides various services, including accepting legal documents and correspondence from the California Secretary of State (SOS).
Your business must have a Registered Agent in California at all times. You'll appoint one when you first form your LLC. You can also replace your existing agent at a later time, provided there is no period during which your business is without an Agent for Service of Process.
The address for your Registered Agent in California does not 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 cannot replace an Agent for Service of Process. They perform two separate functions and per state law, you are required to have a Registered Agent.
What a Registered Agent in California Does
The primary function of an Agent for Service of Process is to accept official correspondence and documentation.
- State and federal government correspondence and notices
- Service of process notices (e.g., if your LLC is sued or required to appear in court)
- Correspondence from the California SOS
- 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 Registered Agent Service for the First Year
Incfile can act as the Registered Agent in California for any LLC formed in the state. Even better, if you form your CA LLC through Incfile, your Registered Agent service is completely free for the first year and only $119 a year after that.
Incfile is legally permitted to act as your California Agent for Service of Process because we are authorized to conduct business in the state.
Appointing a Registered Agent in California
When you're starting an LLC in California, you must appoint an Agent for Service of Process at that time. You can change the agent at any time after that.
Appoint a Registered Agent When You Create Your LLC
Your business needs to have an agent as soon as it’s formed. You can achieve this through one of the following methods.
When you create your business, you must include Agent for Service of Process details in your Articles of Organization.
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 Organization for you.
Assign a New Registered Agent After Formation
You can also assign someone else to be your California Agent for Service of Process after you’ve formed your LLC. There are a couple of ways to do this.
California doesn't have a specific form for this purpose. Once you’ve chosen a new Registered Agent, you can make the change in a Statement of Information and file it online. There is no fee to do this, provided your regular Statement of Information filing requirements have been met.
When you use our Registered Agent service, we take care of all the paperwork for you. We’ll collect the pertinent information about your business, complete the Statement of Information and submit it to the California SOS on your behalf. We’ll notify you when we officially become your Agent for Service of Process.
Search for a Registered Agent in California
In some situations, you might want to know the name of the Registered Agent that represents another CA LLC. You'll find this information in the state's business database.
If you're unable to find the information you need, contact the California SOS directly to request it.
What Happens If You Don’t Appoint a Registered Agent in California?
Acting as Your Own Registered Agent
You can be the Agent for Service of Process for your California LLC if you have a business office in the state. There can be some drawbacks to this approach:
- The Registered Agent must have a physical street address in California. If you’re forming an LLC outside the state, you’ll need to use an in-state Registered Agent.
- Someone must always be available during business hours at the California address to sign for important documents.
- The Registered Agent’s name and address are part of the public record and available through the California SOS website. If you prefer to keep your name and address private, you should use an Agent for Service of Process 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 Registered Agents in California
Yes. All business entities are required to have a Registered Agent. This is mandated by the California SOS. You'll find more information above.
You must assign a Registered Agent when you form your California 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.
Yes, but we don’t recommend it for the reasons listed above.
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.