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Finding the best Registered Agent Service for your California LLC can be challenging with so many options. We understand your confusion and have the expertise to guide you.
We’ve researched and compared the top Registered Agent Services and explained their pros and cons to help you make the best decision for your business.
And if you’re not exactly sure what a Registered Agent is, don’t worry. We’ll cover all the bases so you can feel confident about the decision you make.
Best California Registered Agent Services recommendations by LLC University®
#1. Northwest Registered Agent – Registered Agent Service
Our #1 recommended Registered Agent Service is Northwest Registered Agent.
Northwest Registered Agent is the 2nd largest Registered Agent company and they’ve been in business for over 20 years.
Any mail that is sent to them will be scanned by them and uploaded to your online account.
Northwest offers excellent customer service, and they’re easy to reach by phone or email. Their cancellation policy is also straightforward, and not hidden (unlike other companies).
Our favorite feature of Northwest is that they allow you to use their office address throughout your LLC filing so you can keep your address off public records. Northwest has offices in all 50 states, so this service is available nationwide.
Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their Registered Agent service free for the 1st year.
(Check out our Northwest Registered Agent review to learn more)
- Best customer service team
- Address privacy (Use their address instead of yours on LLC formation paperwork)
- Helpful and knowledgeable staff
- Live person answers the phone every time
- Straightforward pricing models
- Not the cheapest
Registered Agent Services: Northwest Registered Agent charges $125 per year.
LLC Services: Northwest Registered Agent charges $39 + state fee, and they include Registered Agent Services free for the 1st year.
Online customer reviews: Customer reviews praise the helpful and knowledgeable staff at Northwest.
At other Registered Agent companies, people found that advertised prices appeared cheaper, but when it came time to checkout, they were hit with added fees and upsells. In contrast, Northwest’s advertised price was the same low price at checkout.
#2. MyCompanyWorks – Registered Agent Service
MyCompanyWorks was recently acquired by Registered Agent Solutions Inc. (RASI), a major player in the corporate compliance industry (aka Registered Agent service for large companies).
Although they’ve been acquired, MyCompanyWorks operates independently and specializes in serving small business owners.
Like other California Registered Agents, MyCompanyWorks scans and uploads any mail that is sent to your LLC, including notices from the state. However, if your California LLC receives a legal document (aka Service of Process) they will send it to you via overnight mail so you have all the information you need to respond or contact your company attorney.
- Great customer support team
- Positive reviews on ease of use and affordable pricing
- Useful website with helpful features
- Good cancellation policy
- Doesn’t offer address privacy
Registered Agent Service: MyCompanyWorks charges $99 per year for Registered Agent Service.
LLC Service: MyCompanyWorks offers LLC packages starting at $59 + state fees. If you upgrade your package, you’ll get a free year of Registered Agent Service – and they’ll also get an EIN for your LLC.
Online customer reviews: Customer reviews on Google for MyCompanyWorks reflect positive experiences with the prices, ease of use, and DBA services. We think MyCompanyWorks is a great Registered Agent service.
#3. IncFile – Registered Agent Service
IncFile has been recognized as one of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies by Inc. 5000. The IncFile website itself is well-designed and easy to use.
In addition to their Registered Agent services, IncFile also offers a great stand-alone business license research service. This can be very helpful for new businesses looking to save time.
We like IncFile’s affordable prices and the fact they offer exactly what they advertise.
- Free LLC formations and free 1st year of Registered Agent Service
- Scans and sends any mail your LLC receives
- Customizable email notifications
- Customer service not the best
- Strict refund policy
Registered Agent Service: IncFile charges $119 per year for their Registered Agent Service.
LLC Service: IncFile’s LLC formation service starts at $0 + state fee. However, like ZenBusiness, many customers end up paying more at checkout. That said, if you form your LLC with IncFile, they will include one year of Registered Agent Service for free.
Online customer reviews: Trustpilot reviews are above average. While some customer reviews report errors on their filed documents, as well as issues with upcharges, customers seem overall satisfied with IncFile.
#4. ZenBusiness – Registered Agent Service
ZenBusiness is a well-known name in the Registered Agent industry. They scan and upload mail sent to your LLC, just like the other Registered Agent services.
One downside is that their website has a lot of flashy advertisements that make it hard to find information you’re looking for. Our biggest complaint is that you must use an “interactive chat” with an AI robot to get any information, which takes a long time to work through all the questions and answers.
- Large, reputable company
- Scans and uploads mail to your dashboard
- May be hard to cancel, hidden fees
- High price for average service
- Some high-pressure upsells
- Customer service not as helpful as other companies
Registered Agent Service: ZenBusiness charges $199 per year for their Registered Agent service.
LLC Service: ZenBusiness’s LLC formation service packages start at $0 + state fee. However, many people end up paying more for necessary items as they progress through checkout.
Online customer reviews: ZenBusiness customer reviews are mixed across Google and Trustpilot. The negative reviews – amongst the many positive reviews – complain about delays and confusing charges.
#5. Harbor Compliance – Registered Agent Service
Harbor Compliance has its headquarters in Pennsylvania, but they offer Registered Agent Services in all 50 states.
They specialize in handling multi-state compliance issues, which can be very helpful for companies that need Registered Agent services – and business licensing services – in two or more states. This makes Harbor Compliance a great service for larger businesses with locations in multiple states.
Any mail that arrives for your LLC will be scanned and uploaded into your account. And you’ll have online access to view all your mail. If your California LLC operates in multiple states, you’ll be able to access all the mail in one centralized dashboard.
- Basic, no frills website makes things simple
- Good for bulk service: multiple businesses, multiple states
- Experience with Non-Profits
- Discounts available on already competitive pricing
- Customer reviews praise responsiveness and helpfulness
- Doesn’t offer address privacy
- Usually not the best for small business owners
Registered Agent Service: Harbor Compliance charges $99 per year for Registered Agent Service. However, you can get a discount if you pay for multiple years upfront.
LLC Service: Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation service packages start at $99 + state fee.
Online customer reviews: Harbor Compliance has a mix of customer feedback on Google, with some customers reporting concerns about services in certain states. That said, customer reviews on Facebook are overall positive, with business owners often praising Harbor Compliance for their helpfulness and speed in responding to questions.
#6. Rocket Lawyer – Registered Agent Service
Rocket Lawyer is a unique Registered Agent service because they focus on subscription plans that include a variety of business services and online legal services – not just Registered Agent services.
Rocket Lawyer’s main product is their legal advice service and business forms. If you subscribe to that membership, you can get a discount on Registered Agent services (and on LLC formation services).
If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for forms and a few minutes’ conversation with a lawyer, then choosing Rocket Lawyer as your Registered Agent in California probably isn’t the right choice.
- Offers a wide variety of services
- Sends physical copies of your legal mail if your email isn’t working
- Expensive, even for subscribers
- Subscription model can be tricky, refunds are rare
- More focused on legal advice and forms, it can be hard to find what you need
Registered Agent Service: Rocket Lawyer charges $150 per year for Registered Agent Service, unless you subscribe to Rocket Lawyer Premium for $40 per month (then it’s $112 per year for Registered Agent Service).
LLC Service: Rocket Lawyer charges $99 + state fee to start an LLC for you, unless you subscribe to Rocket Lawyer premium for $40 per month (then it costs $0 + state fee for them to form your LLC).
Online customer reviews: RocketLawyer has largely positive customer reviews across Trustpilot, SiteJabber, and Google. Customers seem to appreciate Rocket Lawyer’s customer service experience and the wide variety of services they get with a subscription, including legal forms and advice, business filing, and Registered Agent discounts.
#7. LegalZoom – Registered Agent Service
LegalZoom is one of the biggest names in the Registered Agent industry, but what do you actually get with that name recognition? In our opinion, not too much. Their prices are high compared to other companies in the business formation industry, and it’s difficult to get good information from customer service.
The bottom line is: customers, vendors, and other businesses aren’t judging your California LLC based on what Registered Agent you hire. The “prestige” of a company like LegalZoom doesn’t matter to them. So you don’t gain anything from paying extra for the big name.
- Large company
- Includes identity theft protection and credit monitoring
- They may pay the change of Registered Agent fee if you’re switching companies
- Has a reputation for being hard to cancel
- Expensive, paying premium price for average service
- Customer service has long hold times and aren’t very knowledgeable beyond advertising LegalZoom services
Registered Agent Service: LegalZoom charges $299 per year for Registered Agent Services.
LLC Service: LegalZoom’s LLC formation packages start at $79 + state fee. Upgraded packages are available, but none include free Registered Agent service.
Online customer reviews: Online customer reviews vary widely for LegalZoom. While there are no Google reviews for LegalZoom, the Trustpilot and SiteJabber reviews share a strong contrast of quite positive and equally negative reviews.
What is a California Registered Agent?
When you start a California LLC, the state requires you to list a Registered Agent.
Simply put, a California Registered Agent (aka Statutory Agent) is a person or company who agrees to accept legal documents on behalf of your LLC in case it’s involved in a lawsuit.
If you, or a friend or family member meet the state requirements, you can be your own Registered Agent in California. However, keep in mind that Registered Agent information is publicly available.
If privacy is important to you, you can keep your information off public records by hiring the correct California Registered Agent Service.
California Registered Agent Services are also helpful if you don’t have a reliable address or travel frequently and want to make sure you receive all incoming notices.
Registered Agent vs Registered Agent Service – What’s the difference?
A Registered Agent is a person or company who accepts legal documents and state notices on behalf of your LLC.
A Registered Agent Service is simply a company that specializes in doing this.
Additionally, they maintain standard business hours (to receive any legal documents), and they usually offer other services, like business formation services, basic mail forward service, and free digital mail forwarding.
Note: Many people search for the best online Registered Agent service for their company. Luckily, all of the reliable Registered Agent services offer online services. Meaning, you don’t need to visit a physical location in order to check your mail. You can access everything via an online dashboard.
A Registered Agent Service is also called…
FYI, a California Registered Agent Service may also be referred to as a:
- Commercial Registered Agent
- Registered Agent Company
- Professional Registered Agent Service
- Commercial Statutory Agent
- Registered Agent Provider
What do the best California Registered Agent Services offer?
Many Registered Agent Services also offer business formation services along with compliance services and online business services. Together, these can help you keep your LLC in good standing with the California Secretary of State.
This usually includes reminders to file any Annual Reports, or you can pay them to file your Annual Report for you.
Most professional Registered Agent Services also offer LLC formation services.
Note: Registered Agent companies don’t offer legal services. The best place to get legal services or other services are by hiring an attorney.
Our favorite Registered Agent company is Northwest
Our favorite Registered Agent company is Northwest Registered Agent. We use them ourselves and also recommend them to our readers.
Our favorite feature of Northwest is that they offer address privacy.
Northwest Registered Agent keeps your address off public records by allowing you to use their address throughout your LLC paperwork. They offer this unique service at no additional charge. And because Northwest has offices in all 50 states, this service is available (at no additional charge) nationwide.
How much do the best California Registered Agent Services charge?
The best Registered Agent Services usually charge $100 to $300 per year.
And any mail that is sent to your California Registered Agent will be scanned and uploaded to your online account.
Most Registered Agent Companies will also forward things to you via regular mail.
What’s the difference between a California Registered Agent Service and a California LLC Service?
Most companies usually offer both services:
- Registered Agent Service
- LLC Service
Meaning, the same company can be your Registered Agent and also form your LLC for you.
However, you can also purchase these services individually (or together). For example, you could:
- You can purchase Registered Agent Services from a company, but form your LLC yourself.
- You can purchase an LLC formation from a company, but be the Registered Agent for your LLC.
- Or you can hire a company and choose both their Registered Agent Service and their LLC Services.
Best California Registered Agent Services FAQs
Are there any free Registered Agent Services?
No, there are no free online Registered Agent Services. They all cost money.
The only way to get free Registered Agent service is to be the Registered Agent yourself, or ask someone you know, like a friend, family member, accountant, or attorney.
Is LegalZoom a good Registered Agent?
No, not really. LegalZoom has good name recognition, but their services aren’t any better than the competitors even though they charge more. And having a “name brand” Registered Agent doesn’t help your company. Customers don’t see that information.
Online customer reviews also complain that their business formation service isn’t much better. Many customers who hired LegalZoom to handle their business formation process weren’t always happy with the end result.
Can I be my own Registered Agent in California?
Yes, you can be your own Registered Agent in California as long as you meet the California state requirements.
There are no states that require you to hire a company or a lawyer to be your Registered Agent. Don’t let anyone on the internet tell you differently!
But you might not want to be your own Registered Agent for privacy reasons. Your LLC’s Registered Agent information is public record, so anyone can find their address.
And if your company is involved in a lawsuit, the papers will be delivered to the Registered Agent.
For example, let’s say you own your own hair salon and list your name and the hair salon address as your LLC Registered Agent’s name and address. If your company is sued, the legal documents will be delivered to the hair salon during normal business hours. And that might be embarrassing if you have clients in the room.
Pro Tip: There is one company however, Northwest Registered Agent, that can help solve this problem. If you hire Northwest to form your LLC – and to be your Registered Agent – they can also use their office address throughout your LLC paperwork. This means, even if Member information is required, you can still keep your name and address off public record.
That said, the benefit of being the Registered Agent is that you’ll save money.
Most Registered Agent Services charge $100 to $300 per year, so that’s how much money you can save.
You can learn more about being your own Registered Agent in California by reading Can I be my own Registered Agent in California.
Do you need a Registered Agent for an LLC in California?
Yes. The California Secretary of State requires all business owners to appoint a Registered Agent when they file their LLC paperwork.
The only states that don’t require a Registered Agent are West Virginia and New York.
If you’d like to hire a company to start an LLC for you, check out our article on Best LLC Services in California!
How much do Registered Agents cost in California?
That depends whether you will be your own Registered Agent, ask a friend or family member to be your Registered Agent, or hire a company.
If you or a friend or family member will be the Registered Agent for your LLC, it doesn’t cost anything ($0). You will only pay the California LLC filing fees.
If you choose to hire a California Registered Agent Service, the fees range from $100 to $300 per year.
Good news: There are no state fees associated with listing a Registered Agent.
Do I need a Registered Agent in every state?
No, you don’t need a Registered Agent in every state.
You just need a Registered Agent in the state where you formed your LLC.
The exception to this would be if you need to register your LLC as a “Foreign LLC” in another state. Then you’d need a Registered Agent in that new state.
For example, if you have a California LLC and do business in Sacramento, but now want to expand into Carson City, Nevada, you’ll need to register your California LLC as a “Foreign LLC” in Nevada. And along with Foreign LLC registration, you’ll need to appoint a Registered Agent in Nevada.
If you’re looking for a Registered Agent for a Foreign LLC, check out our review of the Best Registered Agent Services for all 50 States.