If you've decided to hire a registered agent service for your California LLC, this guide is for you. Many registered agent services are available in California, but it is still best to select the one that is most appropriate for your business entity.
Otherwise, you run the risk of losing important legal documents through the mail or failing to meet deadlines, both of which could put you in hot water with the Secretary of State.
Below is a list of the top registered agent services in California.
1. Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is a top-tier California registered agent service — they do everything from providing the street address you need to scanning and forwarding every document they receive on your behalf.
On top of that, they notify you of future compliance filing deadlines, ensuring that you file your annual report, franchise tax, and other tax documents on time. To assure quality service, they also have a US-based customer support team comprised of former attorneys, accountants, small company owners, and entrepreneurs.
Northwest Registered Agent Service Features
- Registered Agent Services: Charges $39 on the first year and renews annually at $125.
- California LLC Formation: Basic package starts at $125, which includes registered agent services, Privacy by Default®, Local Corporate Guides®, free mail forwarding/scanning, and same-day local document scanning.
Northwest Registered Agent Pros & Cons
- One year registered agent service with formation packages
- Personalized and excellent customer support
- 20+ years of experience in the industry
- Has volume discounts on registered agent service
- High price in comparison to the competition
If you're a startup or a small business owner, IncFile will make a lot of things easier for you, especially with your starting budget. IncFile is the only service company to offer free LLC formation service. Additionally, its California registered agent services are also free in the first year, which already includes 24/7 access to your account on the online dashboard, email forwarding, and customized notifications.
InFile's quality of service is backed by 13,500+ reviews of positive ratings online with only a few poor ones. They are well-known registered agents for their ease of use and excellent customer service.
IncFile Service Features
- Registered Agent Services: Charges a $119 annual fee but offers a free registered agent service with formation packages.
- California LLC Formation: Free of charge, so you only have to pay for the $85 filing fee due to the California Secretary of State for the first year.
IncFile Pros & Cons
- Thousands of positive customer reviews
- Has a registered agent dashboard
- Features a virtual mailbox
- Free year registered agent services with formation packages
- Mediocre features on their registered agent service
- Expensive fee in the long run
- No volume discounts on registered agent service
Go for ZenBusiness if you're looking for quality California registered agent services at an affordable price. They provide complete coverage of registered agent service with the option to upgrade at an additional cost.
ZenBusiness is well-known for its reasonable prices, transparency, user-friendly interface, and customer dedication. They have over 4,500 customer reviews online with an average rating of 4.7/5.
ZenBusiness Service Features
- Registered Agent Services Basic Package: Price starts at $99 without LLC formation.
- Registered Agent Service Worry-Free Compliance Package: Additional $50 per state. Includes annual filing report alerts, filing of legal documents, two free changes to filings, and coverage for any fees incurred if you fall out of compliance with the state.
- California LLC Formation: Basic package starts at $39, including a one-year California registered agent service and a free operating agreement template.
ZenBusiness Pros & Cons
- Oustanding customer feedback
- Affordable registered agent services
- Free registered agent included with every package
- Low brand recognition
4. Harbor Compliance
Harbor Compliance provides everything you need from a registered agent service, from assisting with LLC formation to submitting your statement of information. They charge a one-time fee of $99 to cover the entire process for a year, with discounts available for multi-year subscriptions.
With great service quality and a maintained A+ rating from the better business bureau, Harbor Compliance is one of the top registered agent services in California. Their service features are top-notch and highly convenient for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Harbor Compliance Service Features
- Registered Agent Services: Charges a $99 annual fee, which includes complimentary document scanning, same-day electronic delivery of paperwork, customizable notifications, and more. Bulk discounts are available.
- California LLC Formation: Basic Formation Package costs $399 plus state fees. It includes a free year of registered agent service.
Harbor Compliance Pros
- Has same-day electronic delivery
- Has automatic process
- Features specialized services
- Free registered agent with formation package
- Expensive prices for services
- Average customer support
LegalZoom is your best choice if you're looking for a premium California registered agent as well as a one-stop-shop for legal services. Because they have already established a significant presence in the registered agent services industry, you may anticipate their pricing to be higher than the rest of the competition.
Their registered agent service includes service features such as business data protection, a compliance calendar, and unlimited cloud storage. The premium part of their offering is that they also provide you with up to $1 million worth of identity theft protection.
LegalZoom Service Features
- Registered Agent Services: Charges a $299 annual fee and includes features such as business data protection, a compliance calendar, and unlimited cloud storage. Premium feature offers up to $1 million worth of identity theft protection.
- California LLC Formation: Business formation services start at $79 + state fee.
Read More: How Much Does LegalZoom Cost?
LegalZoom Pros & Cons
- Has high customer volume
- Offers wide a variety of legal services
- Great brand power
- Mediocre customer reviews
- High prices
- No registered agent included with LLC formations
6. Rocket Lawyer
The California registered agent services offered by Rocket Lawyer represent only a small portion of the company's portfolio. As such, this registered agent is best suited for business owners or entrepreneurs seeking long-term legal benefits in addition to LLC incorporation.
They have previously served over 80,000 business entities and are known for providing high-quality legal assistance and advice.
Rocket Lawyer Service Features
- Registered Agent Services: Charges $149.99 annual fee for non-members. It also includes storing legal papers in an online document repository and submitting the California Certificate of Formation.
- Business Bundle Plan: Includes registered agent services for free for the first year.
Rocket Lawyer Pros and Cons
- Excellent customer support
- Subscription-based pricing
- Provides legal documents
- Provides support from legal experts
- Limited service features
- Credit card for a free trial
What Are the Benefits of Working With a Registered Agent Service in California?
A common practice of entrepreneurs and startups is to act as their company's own registered agent since it reduces the costs of starting the company. However, we can't ignore the obvious benefits of using one, which make the extra fees worthwhile.
Below are some of them:
- Convenient. Many entrepreneurs and business owners want to focus on scaling their business instead of dealing with administrative tasks. With the assistance of a registered agent service, they can do just that. The registered agent can handle the tedious paperwork and provide their client with an online account that securely saves all company files and documentation in one location.
- Saves money in the long run. A registered agent can help entrepreneurs with multi-state companies in submitting legal documents and paying state filing fees on time. This way, businesses avoid incurring additional expenses due to being late.
- Maintains privacy. With a registered agent service, you don't have to worry about exposing your personal address on the public record once you create your LLC in California. Instead, the registered agent service will provide the address, which means that all papers will be served to the registered office address, including if your business is sued.
- Highly dependable. Things can get complicated quickly if it involves matters of state or corporate law. You may benefit from the services of a registered agent with years of experience working with other business entities. Registered agents can also provide additional legal services that help you run your business well and keep you on the right side of the law.
How Much Does a Registered Agent Service Cost in California?
The cost of one of the best registered agent services in California could range anywhere from $50 to $300 per year. Many of these registered agent companies offer additional services as well, such as assisting you in filing annual reports, monitoring due dates and renewals, and providing other legal services. All of this, of course, will come at a higher cost.
Who Can Be a California Registered Agent?
Like any other state, California allows any company or individual to act as a registered agent for a California business. This is provided they are at least 18 years old, have a physical address in the state in which the LLC is created, and are available during regular working hours on normal business days.
However, when appointing a registered agent for your California LLC, you have four options, and your choice will be based on what works best for you.
Option 1: You can act as your LLC's California Registered Agent.
Option 2: Your LLC can be its own Registered Agent.
Option 3: You can designate a trusted friend or family member as your LLC's Registered Agent.
Option 4: You can use the services of a California Registered Agent Company, often known as a Commercial Registered Agent.
Is It Necessary for My California LLC to Have a Registered Agent?
Yes. According to California's LLC Act, every business entity formed and registered with the state must maintain a registered agent and registered office address in California. Without it, the California Secretary of State will reject your LLC formation filing.
What Does a California Registered Agent Do?
A California registered agent acts as the point of contact for your business. This means they are responsible for receiving service of process, like legal notice of a lawsuit and legal documents from the Secretary of State on behalf of your LLC.
Can I Act as My Own California Registered Agent?
Yes. You have the option of naming yourself as the registered agent for your California LLC, which means you will be the person in charge of receiving all official documents on the company's behalf.
What Are the Qualities of a Good California Registered Agent?
Choosing the best California registered agent for your business will depend on your needs. There are, however, certain qualities you must take into consideration when choosing a registered agent service.
Below are some of them:
- They have a professional service
- They provide the best value for money
- They provide registered agent service nationwide
- Excellent service features
- Ease of use
Can I Use the Registered Agent Office Address as My Business Address?
No. Your California registered agent is not intended to operate as your business address. In general, it is only intended to receive official government documents relevant to your business.
Can I Use a Registered Agent Office Address With the IRS?
No, you can't use the office address of your registered agent when applying for EIN. This is because the IRS wants to know where your business is physically located. At the same time, the address does not have to be in the United States but can be anywhere worldwide.
Our TOP Pick for a Registered Agent Service in California is...
If you plan to expand your business, keep up with state offices and regulations while you save time and money, and keep your privacy, then choosing the best registered agent service in California is highly recommended.
When looking for a California registered agent, you should constantly examine and review key characteristics such as their service features, ease of use, customer feedback, and cost. We recommend Northwest Registered Agent if you want a customer-centered service and ZenBusiness for affordable services.
If you want the best value for your business, we recommend IncFile and Harbor Compliance for ease of use. If your business needs other legal services, we recommend LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer if you prefer many package options.
Whatever registered agent service you choose, we hope this guide has helped you assess your business needs and identify the most suitable one for your company.