This content was provided by our sponsor, General Fanager. The FOX editorial team was not involved in the creation of this content.
Are you considering establishing an LLC in California? If that's the case, it's important to remember that all California LLCs must have a registered agent (also referred to as a statutory agent).
The registered agent you choose for your business will serve as proof that your operations are conducted within the bounds of the law. This entity will handle tasks such as annual reporting, mail collection, and management of legal documents on behalf of your company.
In this guide, we’ll outline the state requirements for appointing a registered agent and present you with a list of ten professional registered agent service providers available in California.
10 Best California Registered Agent Services
- Northwest Registered Agent - Best Registered Agent California Overall
- ZenBusiness - Best for New Business
- Business Rocket - Best for Quick Turnaround Time
- Bizee - Best for Affordability
- Inc Authority - Best for Startups
- Tailor Brands - Best Registered Agent Service Overall
- Swyft Filings - Best Business Specialists Offered
- Firstbase - Best for Usability
- MyCompanyWorks - Best for Extra LLC Services
- LegalZoom - Best for Legal Assistance
Northwest Registered Agent - Best Registered Agent California Overall
Northwest Registered Agent, our top recommended choice for Registered Agent Service, stands out as the second largest company in this field with a commendable 20 years of experience. Their efficient mail scanning and online uploading system ensures that any correspondence sent to them is promptly processed.
One of the key advantages of Northwest is their exceptional customer service which can be easily accessed via phone or email. While they may not offer same-day document delivery and might be slightly pricier compared to other options on the list, Northwest compensates by providing a high-level white-glove service to its clients.
When reaching out to Northwest, you won't have to navigate through an automated phone system. Instead, you'll have direct communication with a real person. Being a family-owned business, they employ Corporate Guides dedicated to assisting you throughout the entire process and offering continuous guidance.
Unlike some other companies in this industry, Northwest maintains transparency with its straightforward cancellation policy that’s openly disclosed.
The standout feature of Northwest lies in their provision allowing customers to use their office address during LLC filing procedures. This ensures that your personal address remains off public records while benefiting from nationwide coverage since they have offices established across all 50 states.
- Exceptional customer service team
- Supportive and well-informed staff
- Transparent pricing models
- Immediate response from a live person when contacting by phone
- Privacy assurance (Allows the use of their address for LLC formation paperwork)
- Higher cost compared to some competitors
Pricing & Plans
To become a registered agent in California, you'll need to pay an annual fee of $125. Northwest Registered Agent offers LLC formation services with a starting price of just $225 per year.
This package includes essential features like preparing and filing the Articles of Organization, checking for name availability, and providing registered agent service for one whole year.
Northwest Registered Agent grants online access to all business documents, free forwarding of legal and tax documents by mail, and alerts and reminders to ensure compliance.
With various comprehensive features and additional options available at an extra cost, Northwest Registered Agent presents a flexible and customizable solution that simplifies establishing your LLC.
ZenBusiness - Best for New Businesses
Since its establishment in 2015, ZenBusiness has successfully distinguished itself from its competitors through various means. Over the years, they have facilitated the creation of over 500,000 businesses.
ZenBusiness provides registered agent service at a reasonable cost of $199 per year. In terms of customer feedback, ZenBusiness reigns supreme. With an extensive collection of online reviews exceeding 10,000, approximately 95% of these reviews portray positive ratings.
Should you require help or support from ZenBusiness, you can easily contact them via phone, email, or their web-based chat application. Rest assured that their customer service team promptly and efficiently addresses your concerns.
One aspect that sets ZenBusiness apart is its pride in offering one of the most favorable refund policies within the industry.
Customers are given a generous period of 60 days to evaluate their satisfaction with their purchase. If dissatisfied for any reason (excluding state fees), customers only need to request a refund, which will be promptly processed.
- Hassle-Free Compliance
- Additional services provided
- 24/7 accessibility
- Customer Service with a friendly approach
- Expensive extra features
Pricing & Plans
- Starter Plan: Priced at $0 per year, plus state filing fees, the Starter Plan encompasses fundamental LLC formation services. Enjoy benefits like a name availability search, preparation and filing of Articles of Organization, and first-year registered agent services.
- Pro Plan: Elevate your LLC formation experience with the Pro Plan, available at $199 per year. Besides all the features of the Starter Plan, unlock supplementary services such as an Operating Agreement, EIN registration, and a comprehensive banking resolution.
- Premium Plan: For a premium experience, invest in the Premium Plan at $349 per year. This inclusive package builds on the Pro Plan, offering expedited filing, compliance monitoring, and a worry-free guarantee for added peace of mind.
Business Rocket - Best for Quick Turnaround Time
Business Rocket is a consulting firm that specializes in assisting entrepreneurs and businesses with the process of company incorporation. It offers a range of services specifically tailored for new businesses, including registered agent services.
You can appoint Business Rocket as your Service of Process agent for your company without any charges during the first year. Afterward, there’s a nominal fee of $149 per year for this service.
This arrangement allows you to benefit from Business Rocket's expertise as your Service of Process agent, starting with an introductory period free and then transitioning into an affordable annual fee thereafter. They provide legal aid, ensure tax compliance, and assist with business entity registration.
At Business Rocket, their goal is to offer competitive pricing while also providing free consultation services for aspiring LLC entrepreneurs. If you're seeking an affordable and efficient service that can be set up quickly, look no further than Business Rocket.
- Simplified business registration process
- Reliable and trusted service
- Cost-effective options
- Insufficient contact options
- Limited details available on customer support
Pricing & Plans
Bizee (Previously Incfile) - Best for Affordability
Bizee has been acknowledged as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America by Inc. 5000. The design and user-friendliness of the Bizee website are remarkable.
Apart from their Registered Agent services, Bizee also provides an excellent independent business license research service. This can be highly beneficial for new businesses seeking to save time.
Upon signing up for Bizee's registered agent service, you will automatically receive mail forwarding. Any legal correspondence, documentation, or information sent to your registered agent's address will be forwarded without any manual intervention to the address you provided.
Incorporating with Bizee entitles you to a free year of registered agent service. However, it’ll cost you $119 per year after that initial year. It’s worth mentioning that unlike many other services offering a free first year but not disclosing subsequent costs, Bizee is transparent about its pricing.
We appreciate the affordable prices Bizee offers and their commitment to delivering exactly what they promise. With over 30,000 online reviews available, it’s evident that customers consistently rate Bizee highly when it comes to registered agent services in California.
- Streamlined mail forwarding services
- User-friendly interface
- Complimentary year of registered agent service upon incorporation
- Varied customer reviews
- Sluggish customer service response
Pricing & Plans
- Silver Package: $0 + State Fees (Only pay state fees)
- Gold Package: $199 + State Fees
- Platinum Package: $299 + State Fees
Bizee registered agent services cost $119 per year for basic registered agent services, such as:
- California-based physical business address
- Service of the process included
- 24/7 online document access platform
- Expert staff available for guidance in filings
- Option to purchase additional services such as LLC formation, EINs, banking resolutions, etc.
Inc Authority - Best for Startups
At Inc Authority, you can take advantage of their free business formation filing, with the only cost being your state filing fees. When you choose to incorporate your business with Inc Authority, they also provide a complimentary year of registered agent service.
This free filing offer includes several valuable services, such as a thorough business name check, secure digital storage and delivery of important documents, a consultation for tax planning purposes, and reliable support via phone or email.
Inc Authority takes care of the preparation and submission of all necessary entity formation paperwork. They even include an S corporation (S-corp) election form and conduct a comprehensive analysis for potential business funding.
Inc Authority has partnered with Bank of America to offer new small businesses an enticing bonus ranging from $100 to $500 when opening a small business checking account and credit card through their collaboration.
Inc Authority is beneficial for individuals seeking to establish a new business without breaking the bank since their registered agent service is completely free for one full year.
- Complimentary LLC formation + state filing fees
- Free registered agent services for one year
- Outstanding customer service
- Preparation and filing of business documents
- Digital storage and delivery
- Seamless checkout process
- Discount on premium package
- Provision of California state business address
- Higher costs relative to other providers after the initial year
- Regular upselling practices
- Lack of pricing transparency
- Limited services and features for the relatively high price tag
Pricing & Plans
- Starter Package: Free + State Fees (Only pay state fees)
- Starter Business Bundle: $399 + State Fees
- Business LLC Executive Bundle: $499 + State Fees
- Tycoon LLC Business Bundle: $799 + State Fees
MyCompanyWorks - Best for Extra LLC Services
As with other Registered Agents in California, MyCompanyWorks assumes the responsibility of scanning and uploading all mail pertaining to your LLC, including state notifications.
However, if your California LLC receives a legal document referred to as Service of Process, they’ll promptly send it to you via overnight mail. This ensures that you have access to all relevant information required for any necessary responses or communication with your company attorney.
The cost for availing Registered Agent Service from MyCompanyWorks is $99 per year. Rest assured that their commitment to serving small businesses remains unwavering despite being under new ownership through RASI's acquisition.
- Excellent customer support team
- Feature-rich and helpful website
- Favorable cancellation policy
- Positive feedback on user-friendly interface and affordability
- Lack of address privacy feature
Pricing & Plans
LegalZoom - Best for Legal Assistance
LegalZoom, a well-known player in the Registered Agent industry, may not live up to its name recognition when it comes to the actual value. Their prices are steep compared to other companies in the business formation sector, and obtaining helpful information from their customer service can be challenging.
In essence, your California LLC will not be judged by customers, vendors, or other businesses based on the prestige of the Registered Agent you choose. Paying extra for a big name like LegalZoom doesn’t offer any tangible benefits.
LegalZoom provides online legal services for businesses across California and various regions nationwide. With an impressive track record and an extensive range of legal services offered to their large customer base, they present themselves as an ideal choice for business owners seeking comprehensive legal support. For their Registered Agent Services alone, LegalZoom charges $299 annually.
- Among the most widely used LLC registered agent California services
- Backed by a money-back guarantee
- Registered agent service includes business data protection and a compliance calendar
- Unlimited cloud storage for all your business documents
- $1 million in identity theft protection and credit monitoring for you and your business
- Facilitates the paperwork and covers fees when switching registered agents
- Multiple upsell opportunities
- Higher cost compared to other LLC formation companies
Pricing & Plans
- Basic: $0 plus state filing fees
- Pro: $249 plus state filing fees
- Premium: $299 plus state filing fees
Our Ranking Methodology for the Best California Registered Agent Services
After carefully analyzing fourteen different aspects, we assessed seven registered agent services based in California. Our selection criteria included the availability of multi-state support, same-day document delivery, and comprehensive business solutions.
We considered factors such as user-friendliness, reputation, pricing, and any additional features that added value to their services. By assigning each factor a weighted score and conducting thorough calculations, we identified the top choices for individuals residing in California.
When determining pricing, our evaluation focused on the initial cost of a registered agent service specifically for California. The selected companies on our list offer transparent pricing that typically falls within the $100 to $150 range. Certain companies provide complimentary registered agent services for the first year if you also utilize their other services like business incorporation.
It’s crucial for businesses intending to expand into different states to have multi-state support. This roundup includes providers who offer this feature, along with other essential services like LLC filing, same-day document delivery, and a secure client portal.
In our evaluation, we examined the ratings of these providers on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and other review platforms like Trustpilot. We analyzed genuine customer feedback to determine whether their experiences aligned with the claims made in marketing materials.
We’ve meticulously evaluated each provider based on our extensive market research and considering the aforementioned categories. Our assessment considered several factors, such as user-friendliness, unique features, cost-effectiveness, and overall popularity.
Best California Registered Agent Services – Buyer’s Guide
What Is a California Registered Agent Service?
In California, every business entity is obligated to have a registered agent. Without designating a registered agent, you cannot complete the formation process for your company.
According to the California Secretary of State, there are two categories of registered agents in this state: individual and corporate. Individual agents are single individuals who serve as registered agents, while corporate agents are business entities that provide registered agent services.
Individual agents don’t have any specific registration requirements. Corporate agents must register before they can begin serving clients. The registration fee for corporate agents is $30. Apart from the registration process, there’s no significant distinction between an individual and a corporate registered agent. Both types operate in the same manner.
The primary responsibility of this position involves receiving document deliveries from the state government and process servers, then notifying your business about the delivery before forwarding the documents to you.
Being a registered agent is crucial because it establishes a point of contact for your business with the state and other parties, ensuring that there’s always a reliable person they can reach out to as an official representative of your company.
You can use a business search tool to explore the state's database of agents. It might be more effective for you to conduct your own independent research or consider using one of the services mentioned earlier.
How to Choose a Registered Agent Service in California
When deciding on a registered agent service, various factors must be considered. These encompass options for operating in multiple states, the ability to deliver documents on the same day, pricing structure, and overall reputation.
Is the registered agent service available in multiple states? If your business starts to grow, consider expanding into other states. In such a scenario, you will require a registered agent service that can cater to your requirements. Most of the larger services mentioned on our list operate in all 50 states.
Same-Day Document Delivery
Prompt delivery is crucial when faced with an urgent deadline for responding to a legal document. Such documents may include lawsuit summonses and tax forms. While many services offer the option to scan and email the document, some go the extra mile by sending hard copies to you overnight.
The cost of registered agent services in California usually falls from $100 to $150 per year. However, one option on our list allows you to make monthly payments, which is perfect for individuals on a tight budget.
Certain providers offer premium services like mail forwarding for an extra charge. Some companies provide free registered agent service for the initial year if you choose them as your LLC registered agent in California or corporation formation partner.
When evaluating a registered agent service, it’s crucial to note customer feedback. These reviews can provide valuable information about customer service and overall satisfaction. It's worth checking if the company holds accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
What Does California Law Say About Registered Agents?
Every state has regulations about registered agents, known as "agents for service of process," in California. While these laws are generally similar across states, familiarize yourself with the specific requirements in California.
To understand the requirements in California, we must refer to the California Corporations Code, which outlines the necessary guidelines.
- All domestic or foreign entities filing with the Secretary of State must designate a registered agent.
- The agent must be a California resident or an active business entity eligible to serve as a registered agent.
- The appointment of a registered agent must be consistently upheld.
- The discussed companies adhere to these regulations and are viable choices for California registered agent services. Once chosen, you can specify your registered agent's name and address in your Articles of Organization.
Benefits of Using a California Registered Agent Service
Although acting as your own registered agent for a business is feasible, we recommend enlisting the California registered agent services. Let us outline some of the advantages associated with this decision.
- Flexibility: Ensure your business stays responsive with registered agent services available during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, for 20 days a month. Having a designated California agent ensures the receipt and processing of crucial documents, even if you're not physically present in the office.
- Privacy: Safeguard your personal address from public records by enlisting the services of a registered agent in California. By doing so, legal documents, especially those associated with lawsuits, will be served to the registered agent's address, preserving your home from unwanted legal notices.
- Peace of Mind: Fulfilling the desire for peace of mind, a California registered agent becomes a valuable ally. They facilitate the receipt and handling of legal documents, enabling prompt responses to notices and mitigating the risk of unnecessary fees and fines. Having a registered agent also reduces the likelihood of non-compliance issues.
- Expand Your Business to Other States: Whether your business entity is an LLC or a corporation, expanding to other states necessitates registration in those locations. From the outset, opting for a registered agent in California proves beneficial. It ensures seamless operations as you scale your business, eliminating the need to transition from self-service to hiring an agent when your business grows.
Best California Registered Agent Services – Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Change My Registered Agent in California?
To update your registered agent, simply submit an Amended Statement of Information to the California Secretary of State. This document should include the details of your new registered agent, such as their name and address, along with information about your business entity type, file number, and date of formation or qualification.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Using a Registered Agent Service?
The ongoing annual fees are the primary disadvantage of utilizing a registered agent service. Suppose you opt for a free agent service for one year and subsequently choose to terminate the service.
In that case, you must complete documentation and incur a charge to modify your agent designation with the state. Failing to cancel a California registered agent service and neglecting to assign a new agent can result in your business losing its good standing with the state.
How Do I Become a Registered Agent in California?
Becoming a registered agent doesn't require any specific qualifications or licensing. If you wish to serve as your business's registered agent, simply provide your contact details on the Statement of Information form.
Alternatively, if you're open to being a registered agent for another company, they can include your information on their Statement of Information document.
Bottom Line – California Registered Agent Services
Selecting the most suitable California registered agents is crucial in receiving timely legal notices. It also ensures that your service of process is handled correctly and maintains good standing with the California Secretary of State. Take your time to carefully review the options and make a well-informed decision for your business.
This content was provided by our sponsor, General Fanager. The FOX editorial team was not involved in the creation of this content.