How to Get a Registered Agent in California

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Alexis Konovodoff
Written by Alexis Konovodoff
Written byAlexis Konovodoff
Updated April 11, 2024
Edited by Carlos Serrano
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Forming and registering a new business in California isn’t always as straightforward as you think. Something as simple as appointing a California registered agent during the LLC formation process can escape many small business owners. Unfortunately, this can be a costly and time-consuming mistake to fix.

A California registered agent can empty your plate of many responsibilities regarding legal documents and state compliance. It also ensures you can operate legally and are unlikely to pay penalties with the Secretary of State. Keep reading the following guide to better understand the role of a registered agent and how to get one for your business.

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Key Takeaways

  • All California corporations, LLCs, and nonprofit organizations need a registered agent.

  • Individuals over 18 who have a physical address and can keep regular business hours can be California registered agents.

  • You can elect or change your registered agent with the California Secretary of State online, in person, or by mail.

What Is a Registered Agent?

A California registered agent, also known as a resident agent in some states, is a person or business entity used by corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and other entity types to act on behalf of your business. Registered agents serve as a point of contact and are empowered to handle certain legal documents.

All business owners in California need a registered agent to be in good standing with the law. Whether you own a small business, large enterprise, or nonprofit organization doesn’t matter. Agents can help your company stay compliant by accomplishing various tasks.

Registered Agent Responsibilities

A California registered agent can help small businesses considerably through the following.

  • Managing services of processes like legal documents from lawsuits and subpoenas

  • Handling communication between businesses and the California Secretary of State’s office

  • Organizing, receiving, and processing corporate filings, legal notices, and other notable correspondence according to state legislation

  • Being the point of contact for businesses and assisting them in receiving various papers

  • Handling and forwarding annual reports and franchise tax documents

  • Providing privacy by acting as a liaison for your businesses

Outside of this list, California registered agents have additional responsibilities. For example, they should hold a physical business address in the public record and stay open during regular business hours. The address or registered office is filed with the California Secretary of State.

Choosing Your California Registered Agent

Becoming a California registered agent is a simple process. Individuals and businesses can serve as registered agents, but picking the right one to represent your company is crucial.

California Registered Agent Requirements

The following requirements represent the minimum criteria for being a California registered agent.[1]

  • Be 18 or older and a California resident

  • Have and maintain a registered office

  • Be listed on the company’s formation documents, including full name and street address

  • Have a history of being in good standing with the California Secretary of State

California state laws don’t add extra special requirements for an individual to become a registered agent. However, corporations that want to be registered agents must file the Section 1505 Certificate with the Secretary of State in California.[2] Fortunately, this means that a limited liability company can become an LLC registered agent for another California business.

Not choosing a registered agent may lead to business application registration issues, state fees, loss of liability protection for owners, and other penalties. It’s also in the Secretary of State’s purview to dissolve a business entity if it isn’t in good standing or non-compliant with the registered agent mandate.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in California?

Anyone who meets the requirements can act as their own registered agent in California. Individuals over 18 with an office address listed in the public record who can keep regular business hours may be California registered agents.

Naturally, there are some advantages to choosing this route.

  • It’s cheaper for businesses to designate a registered agent in-house (i.e., the business owner or another employee)

  • No outside parties will gain access to confidential and sensitive documents received by the company

  • The process is simple and affordable

But being your own registered agent in California isn’t without some drawbacks.

  • Limits the scheduling flexibility as you must maintain regular business hours

  • Requires an address and your contact information on the public record

  • Includes more paperwork, mail processing, and receiving legal papers at inopportune times

  • Requires reporting any change of address and support the applicable fees

  • Takes time away from more crucial responsibilities inside the company

Pacific Coast Highway in California

Benefits of a Third-Party Registered Agent

The affordability of acting as your own agent is tempting but presents more drawbacks than advantages. It creates a strenuous workload and raises the veil of privacy. 

Working with a California registered agent service or third-party operator might be better for your business due to the following benefits:

1. Regain Your Privacy

Registered agents receive and sign legal correspondence, California annual reports, and other vital documents for your California business address. They can act on your behalf for service of process notifications.

For example, someone might sue your company while you’re trying to negotiate with new clients. Potentially being served at your home address can be embarrassing and make your company look bad.

A California registered agent in good standing can help you avoid these situations by forwarding documents and notifications from the registered agent’s address at an appropriate time.

2. Maintain Regular Business Hours

Not all companies keep normal business hours. But that doesn’t mean other businesses or state agencies don’t need to contact them and send paperwork.

Having a dependable California registered agent with a registered office to act as a point of contact is essential. It streamlines communication while serving as a protective wall for various legal correspondence.

3. Get Peace of Mind

A California registered agent can filter out spam or non-essential correspondence to help you communicate with other businesses and agencies even easier. Only some business owners or in-house registered agents have the time to sort through heaps of mail.

It’s even harder when you consider that a California registered office address must be listed in the public record. Moreover, lacking time and organizational skills increases the risk of overlooking essential documents.

Registered agents can ensure businesses are compliant and prevent them from paying hefty state fees. It’s peace of mind worth spending money on, considering the relatively low cost of hiring an excellent registered agent service provider.

4. Remain in Good Standing

Companies may need to change their business addresses or operate in multiple states. But any address changes incur state fees and require reporting to the California Secretary of State. Failing to comply with these requirements may result in penalties.

Third-party California registered agent services help you deal with less hassle. Registered agents are less likely to move around. They can help businesses remain in good standing with the state by receiving and sending important documents on their behalf. In addition, they can act as a physical point of contact in a state where their clients operate but don’t have offices.

5. Project a Better Company Image

Privacy is vital to business owners. All entrepreneurs want to project a professional business image to clients, partners, and state agencies. Working with one of the best California registered agent services can make it happen.

It helps intercept sensitive correspondence until only the owner’s eyes can see it. Furthermore, registered agents can process documents quickly and send reminders. This reduces the risk of missing deadlines or other legal issues that can make your company look bad.

How to Set Up a California Registered Agent

Learning what a California registered agent can do is essential to operating your business smartly and staying compliant with state laws. But it would be best to know how business owners can assign and change a registered agent for a California LLC or corporation. 

Picking the correct agent or filing the proper forms will save time and prevent you from incurring penalties or state fees.

Electing a California Registered Agent

Finding and appointing a California registered agent is not only mandatory but one of the most critical business decisions you may have to make. The state of California lets businesses do this online or via mail.

It’s worth noting that the best time to appoint a California registered agent is during the formation of the corporation, LLC, or nonprofit organization. Nominating a statutory agent can be done when submitting the formation documents (for LLCs and corporations) or the articles for incorporation (for nonprofits.)[3]

If you want to elect a registered agent online, you can do it on the California LLC filing page.[4] It will require providing the registered agent’s name and address and paying state fees. 

For mail filings, you need to fill out the California LLC filing form.[5] The processing fee in California will be $0 between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023. The certification fee is $5.

You can send all correspondence and fees to the following address:[6]

California Secretary of State

Document Filing Support

P.O. Box 944228

Sacramento, CA 94244-2280

Changing a California Registered Agent

Suppose you want to switch to a new California registered agent to act as a point of contact. In that case, you must know the required documentation and the registered agent’s address. The standard fee for LLCs is $20, while corporations must pay $25 when changing registered agents.

However, no fees apply when filing the paperwork outside the usual filing period of the most recent statement.

How to Change Your Agent as a Nonprofit, LLC, or corporation

First, you’ll want to pick a new registered agent. Secondly, you must file a Statement of Information form with the California Secretary of State.[7] This is a simple process; you can submit the form via mail or in person. Only corporations can submit the documents online.

The appropriate document varies based on your entity type. Corporations need to file Form SI-200C, and LLCs need the LLC-12R form. Nonprofit agencies and organizations must submit the SI-100 form with their Statement of Information.[8] You can make payments and send documents to the following address:

California Secretary of State

Statement of Information Unit

P.O. Box 944230, Sacramento, CA 94244-2300

1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

Set Up Your California Registered Agent Today

Using a registered agent service ensures the ease of mail forwarding with an online account to access documents whenever needed. Get started today!

Why Choose Swyft Filings as Your California Registered Agent
  • Avoid Penalties: Every business is legally required to have a registered agent in any state where it operates.

  • Prioritize Your Privacy: We go on record with the government so you don’t have to, meaning any legal actions come to us, not your home or office.

  • Stay Flexible: We are always available at a physical address during business hours, so you’ll never miss an official notice.

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Who can be a California registered agent?

California residents over 18 can become California registered agents if they maintain a physical address and keep regular business hours to receive legal correspondence. However, California LLCs can also become registered agents for other organizations. They must be in good standing with the state and have a physical office address. An LLC can’t act as its own registered agent in California.

How much does a registered agent in California cost?

The yearly cost of a California registered agent or service can vary between $100 and $300. The price variance stems from the differences between various service packages. The more responsibilities a registered agent service has, the more it costs

How do I change my registered agent in California?

Changing a corporation or LLC’s registered agent in California requires filing a Statement of Information form with the Secretary of State . Business owners and nonprofit organization representatives can submit this paperwork online, in person, or via mail. The process is as easy as finding a new California registered agent, submitting the new registered agent information, and paying the state fees. Corporations pay $25, while LLCs pay only $20.

How can I find a registered agent in California?

One of the fastest ways to identify a new registered agent in California is by searching the Secretary of State (SOS) website.[9] Alternatively, you can use standard search engine queries or ask a trusted business partner for recommendations. If you want to minimize expenses, you can appoint yourself or another employee as a registered agent if they meet the state criteria.

What is a California registered office?

Every California registered agent must maintain a physical address in the state to receive documents on behalf of customers and clients during regular business hours. That address is a California registered office. Note that P.O. boxes and similar mailboxes are prohibited and can’t qualify as California registered offices. The physical street address has to be a place of business or a residential address for the agent to operate legally as a California registered agent.

What’s the difference between a registered agent and a statutory agent or agent for service of process?

All states except for New York mandate that corporations and LLCs use a registered agent, agent for service of process, or statutory agent. In California, as in other U.S. states, these terms are interchangeable. Registered, statutory, and service of process agents have the same responsibilities regarding customers and requirements to operate legally in the state and represent businesses.

What is a registered agent service?

A registered agent service is a third party that fulfills the registered agent requirements on behalf of the business. Finding a reliable registered agent service that maintains your privacy, provides immediate access to vital documents, and gives you more time to focus on your business is essential.


  1. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.. “Frequently Asked Questions - Agent for Service of Process.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  2. California Secretary of State Business Programs Division. “Registered Corporate Agent for Service of Process Certificate.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  3. California Legislative Information: Code Section. “Title 2.6 California Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  4. California Secretary of State. “Bizfile Online.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  5. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.. “Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1).” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  6. State of California Franchise Tax Board. “Limited Liability Company Filing Information.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  7. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.. “Corporations – Statement of Information.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  8. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.. “Frequently Asked Questions – How do I change the name and/or address of my agent for service of process?” Accessed April 11, 2024.

  9. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.. “Search Online.” Accessed April 11, 2024.

Originally published on March 15, 2023, and last edited on April 11, 2024.
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