The state of California requires all corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships to designate a registered agent. Also referred to as a registered office, agent for service of process, or statutory agent, these all refer to a third-party person or corporate agent that will receive any documents on behalf of the company related to tax or legal matters or any other official government correspondence. This includes any important mail from the state not limited to annual reports or statements as well as state tax documents.
Why do you need a registered agent in California?
If your company is sued, your registered agent will receive the litigation notice from the sheriff or process server. Any paperwork necessary for tax filings or renewal purposes will also go directly to your registered agent. Essentially, this person or company is responsible for making sure all of the paperwork regarding your legal matters runs smoothly and on time.It is imperative that you choose a registered agent that you can rely on. If your corporation misses a deadline, or documents are filed inappropriately, the consequences may be as serious as the state dissolving your business for not following protocol.
California Registered Agent Requirements
The process for selecting a registered agent typically happens when you are filing the paperwork to establish your corporation or LLC. According to the state of California, a business cannot act as its’ own registered agent so you’ll want to select an individual or company to represent you. If you are choosing an individual, that person must meet the following requirements.
- Must be a resident of California.
- The name and physical address of the individual must be made public with the state.
- A post office box or mailbox service may not be used as the agent is responsible for signing for all documents upon arrival.
- The individual must be available during business hours at the address listed in order to be present for signing documents.
Many businesses choose to use a corporation to act as their registered agent. These organizations typically charge a fee for their services and you can visit the California Secretary of State website to find a list of registered corporate agents. Note that you cannot choose a registered corporate agent for your company without entering an agreement or obtaining approval from them.
Registered Agent Benefits
There are many benefits to having a corporation act as your registered agent with the obvious being that you can avoid receiving a lawsuit in front of clients or employees. Additionally, the registered agent’s contact information is required to be public so you can avoid having personal information listed and escape receiving unwanted solicitations or mail. This is especially desirable if you operate out of a home office.Another benefit is that registered agent service typically has processes in place that make it easy for them to manage your business filings, ensuring that your company is staying on top of filing deadlines or responding in a timely manner to legal proceedings. If you decide to move offices, all you need to do is change your address with your service organization and pay a fee of $20 to $25 to the Secretary of State. Your service organization will update details with the California Secretary of State Business Programs Division.If your business operates in multiple states, a service is usually well equipped to keep up with the different requirements of each state. Consider your business hours. If you operate outside of a typical 9-5 timeframe, a corporate registered agent is available to receive those documents when they are served. These companies may also offer online document storage, overnight mail forwarding and compliance watch, guaranteeing that your business is meeting all of the needs of the state.
If you’ve already chosen your registered agent and want to select a different one, visit the California Secretary of State website and fill out the applicable form (California Limited Liability Company, California Limited Partnership, California (stock) Corporation, etc.) available on the Forms, Samples and Fees webpage. Each form will provide complete filing instructions, fees, and any additional requirements.
Choosing a strong registered agent is necessary. You want someone who is organized, knowledgeable and good at keeping up with the changing business laws and compliance requirements to make sure your business never falls behind. By having a registered agent, you can rest assured that someone is always there to receive important information regarding your business.