Yes, you can be your own Registered Agent in California as long as you meet the state requirements.
(Unfortunately, most Registered Agent Services and LLC filing companies hide this information.)
We explain the pros and cons below so you can make your own decision.
California Registered Agent Requirements
To be your own LLC Registered Agent, you need to have a physical address in California.
This is because Registered Agents must have a physical street address in the state. PO Boxes are not allowed.
(Note: The address of a Registered Agent is the Registered Office. The Registered Office address and the name of the Registered Agent will go on your LLC paperwork.)
The Registered Agent can be a person or a company. If the Registered Agent is a person, they must be over 18 years old and have a physical address in California. If the Registered Agent is a company, it must be authorized to do business in California.
Note: Some states call the Registered Agent a Resident Agent or Statutory Agent. These all mean the same thing, so we always call it a Registered Agent to keep it simple.
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.
What does a Registered Agent do?
A Registered Agent receives legal documents and notices from the state for your LLC.
If your business is involved in a lawsuit, the Registered Agent will accept Service of Process for your LLC. This is when legal documents are delivered to or “served on” your business.
Who can be the Registered Agent for an LLC in California?
There are three options for who can be your California Registered Agent:
- You can be your LLC Registered Agent
- A friend or family member can be your LLC Registered Agent
- You can hire a professional Registered Agent Service
Remember, if you are the Registered Agent you need to have a physical address in California. And the same thing goes for a friend or family member if they are your Registered Agent.
What is a Registered Agent Service?
A Registered Agent Service is a company that you pay to be your Registered Agent.
(A Registered Agent Service is also called a Commercial Registered Agent.)
The Registered Agent Service receives service of process for your LLC and forwards it to you electronically or by mail. Some companies also offer other services related to your LLC that you can buy.
Should you be your own Registered Agent in California?
It depends. While being your LLC’s Registered Agent can save you money, there are some potential risks.
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of being your own California Registered Agent.
Pros of being the Registered Agent for your LLC:
- You save money.
- It’s one less online account to keep track of if you don’t hire a Registered Agent Service.
- Documents go directly to you. You don’t have to wait for someone to forward or email them.
Cons of being the Registered Agent for your LLC:
- You might miss an important notice or legal document. This could happen if you travel often or forget to check your mail.
- Registered Agent information is public record. Companies can use public records to send you junk mail, or post your address online.
If you aren’t bothered by your address being public, being your own Registered Agent is a great way to save money.
Should I hire a California Registered Agent Service?
You should hire a Registered Agent Service if:
- You don’t live in California
- You don’t have a friend or family member who lives in California
- You live in California, but don’t want to be your own Registered Agent
Our recommendation for a California Registered Agent Service
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent.
They’ve been in business for over 20 years and have excellent customer service. They’re also the service we use for our own LLCs.
Northwest will also keep your address off of public records. This is our favorite Northwest feature. And no other Registered Agent Service offers this.
How to keep your address off public records
Northwest lets you use their address throughout your entire LLC filing in all 50 states and D.C. This can keep your address off public records.
For example, you can list their address for any or all of the following:
(Note: The list above is an example. Some states have more address fields than others. Wherever there is an address field on the LLC filing, you can list the Northwest address if you’d like. This can keep your address off public records.)
Any mail that Northwest receives gets scanned and uploaded to your online account.
Need to save time? You can also hire Northwest to form your LLC.
Special discount for LLC University® readers
Northwest usually charges $100 + state fees to form a California LLC. But they offer a special price (60% off) for LLC University® readers.
What should I look for in a Registered Agent Service?
|Service of process:||Do they forward documents by mail?|
Do they scan and email them?
|General business mail:||Will they accept general business mail sent to your LLC?|
Most Registered Agent Services will only accept Service of Process.
|LLC Formation:||Will they form your LLC with the state?|
How much do they charge beyond the state filing fee?
|Annual Report or other services:||Do they offer Annual Report filing or other services you can buy?|
How much do they charge for these?
|Cost:||How much do they charge for the stand-alone Registered Agent Service?|
Most Registered Agent Services charge $100 to $300 per year.
|Customer Support:||Do they have great customer support?|
Read some online reviews of the service or call and ask a few questions.
California Registered Agent FAQs
Is a California Registered Agent liable?
No, a California Registered Agent is not liable for any of the LLC’s lawsuits or debts.
Accepting documents on behalf of the LLC does not bring the Registered Agent into a lawsuit.
If you are the Registered Agent and someone sues your LLC, they are still only suing the business. The Registered Agent does not get sued. That’s true even if you are the Registered Agent and the owner of the LLC.
And only the LLC gets sued – not you, as the individual owner. That’s because an LLC protects your personal assets.
Where do I list myself as the Registered Agent?
The name and address of the California Registered Agent goes in the LLC filing paperwork.
Every state requires an LLC to list a Registered Agent and Registered Office (the Registered Agent address). This information goes on public record, so that a process server, if needed, can serve your LLC.
Is a Registered Agent a Member of a California LLC?
No, a California Registered Agent is not automatically an LLC Member (aka owner).
Meaning, just listing someone as a Registered Agent doesn’t make them a Member of your LLC.
Registered Agent Service:
If you hire a California Registered Agent Service, they won’t be a Member of your LLC.
If you are a Member of an LLC and you want to be your own Registered Agent, then that is totally okay. In that case, you are both a Member of the LLC and the Registered Agent for the LLC.
Friend or family:
If a friend or family member is your LLC Registered Agent, they can be a Member of your LLC (if you make them one). But they aren’t automatically a Member just because you list them as the Registered Agent.
Who can be a California Registered Agent and an LLC Member?
|Who:||Can they be the Registered Agent?||Can they be a Member of the LLC?|
|You||Yes, if you live in the state where you formed your LLC||Yes, always|
|Friend or family||Yes, if they live in the state where you formed your LLC||Yes, if they co-own the LLC with you|
|Registered Agent Service||Yes||No, never|
Is a California Registered Agent necessary?
Yes, a California Registered Agent is necessary. State law requires someone to be available to accept Service of Process for your LLC.
You must list a Registered Agent on your LLC paperwork. And then you must continuously maintain (keep) one on file with the state as long as your LLC exists.
Check out our free California Registered Agent lesson for more detailed explanations and requirements.