California law requires your LLC to have an agent for service of process, a person or company authorized to accept official correspondence on behalf of your business, such as legal or tax documents.
An agent for service of process, or a registered agent in most states, plays a key role in ensuring your business receives all key documents and notices and stays fully compliant with state regulations.
Agent for Service of Process Requirements in California
In California, an LLC owner, known as a member, can be the agent for the service of process, or you can choose an individual that meets state requirements. In California, agents must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Have a physical address in the state
- Be available during regular business hours
- Be registered to operate in the state (if the agent is a registered corporate agent)
Agent for Service of Process Services
Many business owners hire a registered corporate agent to ensure all important documents are received and addressed promptly. A registered corporate agent also offers convenience.
If you choose to be your agent, you’ll have to be available at your agent for service of process address during regular business hours. However, a registered corporate agent will allow you the flexibility to run and grow your business wherever you need to be.
An agency also offers privacy. Since they will receive all official correspondence for your business, you would never be served with a summons for your business in front of customers or employees.
Choosing a Registered Corporate Agent
Some agents for service of process or registered agent services operate nationally, which gives you the flexibility to form LLCs in other states if your business expands. However, if you don’t choose a national agency, you’ll need one with an office in California.
You’ll also want an agency that will:
- Send deadline reminders for things like annual reports to ensure your LLC stays in compliance
- Digitally store your documents so you can access them at any time
- Offer great customer service
Prices for registered corporate agent services vary, which may affect your decision. Registered corporate agent services generally run $50 to $300 annually.
To see a list of registered corporate agents, go to California’s Bizfile Online service, and use the search function to look for “corporate agent.”
How to Appoint an Agent for Service of Process in California
In California, you’ll officially appoint your agent for service of process when you form your LLC by filling in the agent for service of process information on your articles of organization.
You can file your articles of organization online or on paper.
To file your articles of organization online, visit California’s bizfile Online.
Log in or create an account and click on the leftmost column from the home screen, “Business Entities.”
Find and fill out the Articles of Organization for LLCs.
In the section for “agent for service of process,” input either a person’s name and address or the name of a registered corporate agent corporation. If you’d like to serve as your own agent for service of process, write your name in.
Submit your filing. Filing articles of organization is free, so there’s no need to go through a payment process.
To file by paper, download, fill out, and print your articles of organization.
In section three, designate an agent for service of process by writing either a person’s name and address or the name of a registered agent corporation. If you’d like to designate yourself as the agent for service of process, write in your name.
There is no cost to file articles of organization in California. Mail your documents to:
Secretary of State Business Programs Division
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Alternatively, deliver them in person to the same address. Be aware of the additional $15 handling fee for in-person filings, which can be paid by check or money order payable to the Secretary of State.
Once your LLC is approved in California, your agent for service of process is officially appointed. You do not need to do anything further in terms of registering your agent.
California requires your LLC to have an agent for service of process. Some LLCs appoint a member as their agent, but hiring a professional service offers many advantages.
You’ll likely need to decide on whichever route you choose before you form your LLC. You can change your agent for service of process later if you decide to, though it requires additional paperwork.
California Agent for Service of Process FAQs
Can I be my agent for service of process in California?
Yes. When filling out your Articles of Organization, simply put your name and address in the space for the agent of service of process.
What does an agent for service of process do for an LLC in California?
An agent for service of process receives all government notices and documents for your LLC and must be at the designated address during business hours. Of course, you can be your agent, but designating someone else helps you maintain privacy and gives you greater freedom of movement.