In California, like in almost all the other states, you need a registered agent to receive the various official documents, tax forms, and even summons that may be sent to your corporation. It’s a crucial job, which is why it’s mandatory in all most states. You can’t start and run a business in California without a registered agent.
In California, though, the state doesn’t use the term “registered agent” for the position. In their official forms and websites, they call this the “agent for service of process”. Don’t worry about it, as it’s just another name for the same position and duties. In fact, we will just use the term agent for the rest of this guide to refer to the registered agent or agent for service of process.
Who Can Be a Registered Agent in California?
Before you replace your current agent, you need to think about the replacement so you enjoy a smooth transition. For the agent you need, several requirements must be met. First of all, they can be any of the following:
An individual adult (at least 18 years old) California resident
A business entity (such as a professional registered agent service) based in California
A foreign registered agent business entity that’s authorized to do business in California
Whether it’s an individual or a business entity, the agent must also have a California street address. This means a physical location, in which there will always be someone to receive the official documents for your corporation during business hours. It can’t be just a P.O. box.
Steps to Change Registered Agent
In California, your corporation or LLC must file a Statement of Information within 90 days of the corporation’s formation, and then every 2 years after that. But you must submit a new Statement of Information at any time when there are changes to your corporation—such as a change in your agent.
You have to file the Statement of Information if you’re changing your agent.
For each type of business, a separate form is available:
Download the relevant form and put in the information that the form asks for. There’s an optional Submission Cover Sheet that you should complete as well. This will make it easier to receive any information relating to this form. For detailed instructions about how to fill it out, please refer to the California Secretary of State’s Forms, Samples, and Fees webpage. You may also refer to the comprehensive FAQ page here.
There’s a $20 fee for the first Statement of Information and the others that follow every 2 years. But when you file a new Statement of Information in between these regular filings, you don’t need to pay any fee at all. You’re free to file at any time.
Info to Put In
You will be required to enter the following information:
The name of your LLC, exactly as it appears on the file submitted to the California Secretary of State. That means including the ending part of the name, such as XYZ, LLC or XYZ, a Limited Liability Company.
The 12-digit entity number issued to your LLC by the California Secretary of State when you formed your LLC.
The complete street address, city, state, and zip code of your main office.
The name and complete business or residential address of any manager (or managers). If there are no managers, then this pertains to the members.
The name of the agent for service of process and the agent’s complete California street address, city and zip code, or name of the registered corporate agent exactly as registered in California.
A description of the general type of business that your LLC is engaged in.
The name and complete business or residential address of the chief executive officer (if there is one).
Type or print the date, the name, and title of the person completing this form, and put in the signature where indicated.
The form has guides and tips to help make sure you put in the exact information asked for. Just read the directions carefully and follow them exactly.
The best and fastest way to submit this form once you’ve completed it is to submit it online.
You can also just mail the printed forms with the fees to this address:
Secretary of State, Statement of Information Unit,
P.O. Box 944230
Sacramento, CA 94244-2300.
If you live in Sacramento, you can always deliver this in person. Just get to the Sacramento office, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
You can find details about the processing times on the Secretary of State’s website. They are updated on a daily basis, so you can figure out when to expect a change.
Should You Hire a Professional?
This will actually be a lot easier if you’re planning on sifting to a professional registered agent service. The best ones offer exemplary service at extremely reasonable rates. Often, you’re able to download the needed forms with pre-filled information about the service to save time and effort. Northwest Registered agent is one of the most popular companies for this job.
With professionals, you know for sure the job gets done right. They usually have online storage for all the official documents. When they receive the documents for the corporation, the service will immediately scan them so they can send you the digital copies right away. The documents will also be conveniently stored in the same online location as your other business documents, like your formation documents.
Professionals may even maintain a compliance calendar, warning you way ahead of time when you should file a report or comply with some requirement with a deadline. That means you virtually eliminate the risk that you’ll fail to comply with any sort of compliance requirement. Such a failure may lead to fines and penalties, and perhaps even to the dissolution of your corporation. Reinstating your LLC can be a huge hassle, and it’s like starting the formation process for your LLC all over again.
Who Should Use It:
If you are willing to pay a little more for top-notch customer support and want to combine virtual office and mail forwarding services with registered agent service.
- Top-notch customer service. Great Phone Support.
- Focus on Privacy.
- Documents are scanned on the same day they are received. Mail forwarding is also available.
- Money back refund possible within 90 days
- No hidden charges. They handle all fees associated with the change in RA (good if you plan to change your registered agent).
- Not the cheapest. Zenbusiness is slightly cheaper.
Who Should Use It: If you need a basic reliable registered agent service at a great price, ZenBusiness is a good choice.
- Affordable pricing. Plans start from $99/year. Offers free registered agent service with its incorporation service
- Convenient online dashboard for documents
- Offers business formation services
- It is a public benefit corporation.
- BBB accredited (A-) and positive word of mouth on internet communities.
- Does not forward mails.
- No pro-rated refunds.
Pricing: $119/year. Free for the first year if you use their incorporation service.
Who Should Use It: If your objective is to minimize the startup costs in the first year, Incfile is a decent choice.
- Automatic mail forwarding service. Email and SMS notifications
- Free for the first year if you also incorporate your business with Incfile.
- It will cost you $119/year as a standalone service.
- Customer reviews and word of mouth is mixed. Many customers complain about slow TAT and long waiting time for customer support.
- Lots of upsells. You may just choose to ignore it.
- One of the oldest brands with a high number of customers.
- 60 days money-back guarantee.
- The price is very high as they charge $299/year for standalone registered agent service.
Pricing: $99/year. It is reduced to $89/year if you opt for a 3+ years package.
Who Should Use It: If you are looking for reliable registered agent services that help track regulatory requirements and promptly notify about lawsuits, Harbor Compliance is a good choice.
- Affordable pricing and no hidden fees. Price starts from $99 a year. Multiyear discounts.
- Annual reports notification.
- Same-day document scanning and delivery.
- You get phone notifications of lawsuits. Other companies generally notify via email.
- No refund if you cancel the service.
- They do not offer physical delivery of mail
Who Should Use It: Medium-sized or Start-up Business owners who want to take advantage of Rocket Lawyer’s legal subscription services and don’t mind paying to pay a little extra to get their legal needs fulfilled in one place.
- Support from legal experts. You can avail all kinds of legal services in one place.
- Prompt customer service and Money-back guarantee
- You do not get free registered agent service with the business formation.
- Good customer support. Good reputation among users.
- Price is on the higher side.
- No pro-rated or full refund option even if you cancel.
So, if you’re going to change your registered agent in California, you may as well do yourself a favor and switch to a good registered agent service. With the benefits you get with the low costs, you’re able to focus more on growing your business instead.