California Registered Agents for LLCs

Every business entity formed in California needs to formally appoint a person or business to act as a Registered Agent. In California, this is called an “Agent for Service of Process”.

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A California Agent for Service of Process provides various services for your LLC, including the acceptance of formal documents and correspondence from the California Secretary of State. You will appoint an Agent for Service of Process when you first start your business — you can change this agent later, but your LLC must have one at all times.


Rules for California Agents for Service of Process

You must follow certain rules when appointing a California Registered Agent/Agent for Service of Process for your business. They are:

rules for California registered agent
  • If the Registered Agent is a person, they must reside in California
  • If the Registered Agent is a business, they must be able to conduct business in California
  • The Registered Agent must have a physical street address in California, not a P.O. Box
  • The CA Registered Agent must be available in person during normal business hours to sign for any correspondence

Note that the CA Registered Agent address does not need to be the same as your California LLC business address.


What a CA Registered Agent Does

Your California Registered Agent carries out several valuable services for your business. They accept official communications and documents from the CA Secretary of State on your behalf. This may include:

  • Correspondence from the Secretary of State, like a notice to file reports and other forms
  • Service of process documents (for example, if your California LLC has legal proceedings issued against it)
  • Official California and federal government documents, form filings and requests for information (including taxes, permits and company filings)

Incfile Provides a Free California Registered Agent Service for the First Year

If you have an LLC that’s incorporated in California and you need a Registered Agent, we can help. Incfile provides a complete Registered Agent service for any California business. If you form your business through Incfile, we’ll act as your Registered Agent free for your first year (normally a $119 annual cost).

We are authorized to conduct business in California and can legally act as your Registered Agent. Here’s what you need to know about Incfile’s Registered Agent service.

  • The Registered Agent will always be available to accept documents and letters on your behalf.
  • We automatically notify you whenever we receive correspondence for your business from the California Secretary of State or anyone else.
  • We scan your correspondence and upload it to a dashboard, so you can review it when convenient.
  • We forward all correspondence to an address you choose.
  • If you incorporate with us, your Registered Agent is free for the first year ($119 a year after).
Incfile's Registered Agent Service

Appointing a Registered Agent in California

You appoint a Registered Agent when you first incorporate your California LLC and can change Registered Agents at any point after that. Here’s how to go about it.

Appoint an Agent When You Create Your California LLC

Your business needs to have a California Registered Agent as soon as it’s formed. You can achieve this through one of the following methods.

  • File Articles of Incorporation with the California Secretary of State

    You will need to include the details of your Agent for Service of Process in your Articles of Organization. This is the form that you file with the California Secretary of State to formally create your business.

  • Incorporate Through Incfile and Get a Free California Registered Agent

    When you incorporate through us, we complete and file your Articles of Incorporation based on the information you’ve provided. Additionally, we give you a free California Agent for Service of Process for the first year, and we’ll include the details of your agent in the form that we file.

Incorporate Your Business Through Incfile

Assign a Different California Agent After Incorporation

You can also change your CA Registered Agent service after you’ve formed your LLC. There are a couple of ways to achieve this.

  • Choose a Registered Agent Service and File a Statement of Information (Form LLC-12) with the California Secretary of State

    Once you’ve chosen a new California Registered Agent, you can complete form LLC-12, Statement of Information, which is available on the CA Secretary of State website. Once you’ve filled it out, send it to the Secretary of State so they can update your records. The SOS may charge a nominal fee to assign or change a Registered Agent.

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

    When you choose to use our CA Registered Agent service, we take care of all the form filling and filing for you. We’ll collect important information about your business, complete form LLC-12 on your behalf and send it to the California Secretary of State. We’ll let you know once we officially become your Agent for Service of Process. Note that the California SOS may charge a nominal fee to assign or change a Registered Agent, which will be passed on to you.

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California Registered Agent Search

In some situations, you might want to know the name of the Registered Agent that represents another California LLC. If you do, you can search the business database of the California Secretary of State, as these will often provide details of a specific business’s Registered Agent.

If the CA Registered Agent isn’t available from the searchable business registry, contact the California Secretary of State requesting the information.

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What Happens If You Don’t Appoint a Registered Agent in California?

What happens if you choose not to assign or provide details of a Registered Agent to the California Secretary of State? There are several possible ramifications, including:

  • Getting served or sued and not finding out about it: If your LLC is sued and you don’t know about it, you could lose to a default judgment in your absence.
  • Falling out of good standing with the California Secretary of State: If you don’t respond to certain correspondence (like the request for your annual report), certain states may revoke your right to do business.
  • Losing your status as a California LLC: A CA Registered Agent “proves” to the state that your business exists. Without it, you could lose your business entity protections and your California LLC may be dissolved.

FAQs About California Registered Agents

Do I Need to Appoint a California Registered Agent?

Yes. All CA LLCs are required to have a Registered Agent/Agent for Service of Process. This is mandated by the California Secretary of State.

When Can I Assign a California Registered Agent Service?

You can either do it when you incorporate your business through paperwork filed with the CA Secretary of State or afterward by filing the correct form. If you form your business through Incfile, we will file all necessary forms on your behalf.

Does My Registered Agent Need to Have an Address in California?

Yes. Additionally, if they are a business providing Registered Agent services, they must be legally able to conduct business in your state.

Other Useful Resources

You might find these resources helpful:

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