Discover the Best Registered Agent Services in California

Best Registered Agent Services in California

*Disclosure: We earn commissions if you shop through the links below. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.


BY Reviano team, Dec 12, 2022


Whether you intend to form a corporation or limited liability company in California, you’ll need the services of an experienced registered agent.

Registered agents are third parties designated by you to collect legal notices, tax documents, and other official papers on your behalf. They are a must-have for California business owners registering a corporation or an LLC. 

In this review, we introduced what a registered agent is. We also highlighted some of California's best registered agent services and their pros and cons.

What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent, aka a statutory agent, is a professional legally selected by you to gather and handle official papers for your business. These papers include service of process (or legal mail), tax notices, and business registration renewal notices from the Secretary of State.

Your registered agent must have a physical location in the state where you registered your business. For instance, if you registered your business in California, you’ll need to hire a California registered agent with a physical office in the state.

In addition to having a physical address, California registered agent (or statutory agent) must be available during normal business hours to accept legal mail on behalf of your business.

8 Best Registered Agent Services in California:

  • NorthWest Registered Agent
  • ZenBusiness
  • Incfile
  • Inc Authority
  • LegalZoom
  • Harbor Compliance
  • Rocket Lawyer
  • Better Legal

Northwest, a commercial registered agent service provider, is known for its impressive customer service, seamless user experience, transparent pricing, and premium services. This registered agent service—often dubbed the best—offers attractive perks like same-day local scan, virtual office services, and free digital mail forwarding.

Northwest offers users an online account to access important documents, mail forwarding, and business address services. Though more expensive than other alternatives ($125/ year), Northwest California registered agents provide benefits and rich features (like local business guide support and full-fledge mail scanning and support) that offer you the best value for your money.

NorthWest Registered Agent logo

Pros

  • Unlimited mail forwarding
  • Same-day scan at their local office
  • Zero late fees
  • Physical California business address
  • Perfect for small business owners
  • Protects user privacy
  • Great customer service
  • Five free scans of regular business mail annually

Cons

  • Offers users free limited mail forwarding
  • Cost for EIN service

Conclusion:

Northwest registered agent service is perfect for business owners who need personalized support through their business journey. We would also recommend their services to business owners looking for a registered agent that offers quality service.

You may consider an alternative if the $125/ year price tag is much for you. However, note that you'd be missing out on many perks.

ZenBusiness offers affordable rates for a registered agent service, which is as low as $99 or $149 when combined with compliance (annual cost). Though new to the market, this company has captured the hearts of many business owners and grown in popularity thanks to its affordability, transparency, and quality service.

Like a typical California registered service, ZenBusiness offers a California business address, mail forwarding notifications from the California Secretary of State, and service of process. They also help with annual report filing, website building, and LLC formation services. Plus, they offer worry-free compliance and excellent customer support.

Zenbusiness logo

Pros

  • Free year as a registered agent when you buy an LLC service through them
  • Affordable than many alternatives
  • Helps file annual reports
  • Good customer support

Cons

  • It doesn't offer same-day document delivery
  • No free plan
  • Recurring fee
  • Registered agent service is an add-on

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a registered agent that offers a free plan, look elsewhere—ZenBusiness isn’t for you. 

However, you should consider ZenBusiness if you need a registered agent company that offers many add-on services. In addition, California business owners who need an affordable and easy way to form an LLC should consider ZenBusiness.

Incfile is another registered agent service you should consider for your California corporate business entity. They offer free year-round registration and charge $199 for subsequent years, making them ideal for low-budget or small businesses.

Incfile offers users a street address in California. They help you receive important information from the California Secretary of state, send your business service process notification, and provide a point of contact for your California corporate business entity.

What’s more, Incfile also allows you to keep tabs on important business documents. And yes, they send emails and SMS notifications designed to keep you in the loop on the status of your documents.

Incfile logo

Pros

  • Offers one free year of registered agent
  • Beneficial for new businesses
  • Real street address
  • Easy interface
  • Trademark registration
  • Online access to incorporation documents
  • Preparing & filing the articles of organization
  • Setup business banking account
  • Automatic mail forwarding
  • It comes with compliance and annual report alerts

Cons

  • Customer service response is slow
  • Higher cost compared to Harbor Compliance and Northwest Registered Agent

Conclusion:

We recommend Incfile to individuals looking for a California registered agent service that offers free registered agent service (valid for a year). Or one with many add-on features that can help form a business online. Businesses with a tight budget should also consider their California registered agent services.

Inc Authority

Inc Authority is perfect for individuals looking to form a new business on a tight budget, as its registered agent service costs nothing for an entire year. To enjoy this benefit, you don't have to buy a business formation plan.

In addition to its affordability, Inc Authority offers free services like tax consultations, business name verification, s-election document filing, digital storage and delivery, entity formation within the state, free business checking accounts, etc.

While Inc Authority offers users free registered agent service for the first year, they usually charge $179 for subsequent years, making them one of the most expensive service providers in this list. 

Inc authority logo

Pros

  • Free LLC formation + State filing fees
  • Free registered agent services for a year
  • Excellent customer service
  • Preparation and filing of business documents
  • Digital storage and delivery
  • Easy checkout process
  • Discount on premium package
  • Offers California state business address

Cons

  • More expensive compared to other providers after the first year
  • Frequent upselling
  • Pricing isn’t transparent
  • Offer few services and features for its expensive price tag

Conclusion:

Inc Authority is the best option for individuals looking for a California registered agent service that offers quality legal assistance. You should consider their services if you don't want to spend much on business registration.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom offers online legal services to businesses in California and other parts of the country. Their impressive track record, affordable pricing plans, comprehensive legal services, and large customer base make them a perfect option for business owners looking for a company that can meet all their legal needs.

LegalZoom packages range from $79 to $349 (plus state filing fee), with the option to include extra services. While this is a bit higher than other alternatives, it's justifiable given their experience and the general legal advice and guidance they provide.

leglazoom logo

Pros

  • One of the most popular LLC services
  • It comes with a money-back guarantee
  • LegalZoom offers more ongoing legal services than other LLC formation companies.
  • Registered agent service includes business data protection, a compliance calendar
  • Unlimited cloud storage for all your business docs.
  • $1M in identity theft protection and credit monitoring for you and your business
  • If you're switching your registered agent, they'll handle the paperwork with your state and cover any fees

Cons

  • More expensive compared to other LLC formation companies
  • Multiple upsells

Conclusion:

LegalZoom's registered agent service isn't ideal for new businesses, especially those on a tight budget. They charge over double what Northwest charges annually ($299). Regardless, they offer services like identity theft protection and compliance calendar.

Consider their services if you are looking for a California corporate agent with lots of experience.

Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance is suitable for customers looking for a registered agent with an affordable and transparent pricing structure. Like most registered agent services, they offer a physical address in the state where you operate, free digital mail forwarding, and privacy protection.

With just $99, Harbor Compliance offers customers access to advanced features such as same-day electronic delivery, pre-filled state forms, personalized notifications, and annual report notices with their registered agent services. They also alert you of any essential impending compliance deadlines, like filing your information statement.

Harbor Compliance

Pros

  • Help business owners meet compliance requirements
  • Zero auto-billing
  • Protects user’s privacy
  • Offers 5-10% discount on subscriptions of 2+ years

Cons

  • The unskilled customer service team
  • Fewer services added to the formation package

Conclusion:

Harbor Compliance is expert in compliance. They are also affordable. Regardless, suppose you are a small business owner who needs a registered agent with considerable expertise and experience. In that case, you may consider other options, as Harbor Compliance offers fewer services.

Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer has an impressive track record, having helped form over 80,000 businesses. Like Legal Zoom, they offer a wide range of legal and registered agent services. We recommend them to small business owners looking for a company with exceptional customer service and legal assistance.

As a registered agent service that charges more than Northwest registered agent ($149), you expect them to offer more sophisticated services than their counterpart. Sadly, they don’t, making them expensive, especially for business owners with a tight budget. But even at that, they remain one of the best providers in the registered agent services industry.

Rocket Lawyer-logo

Pros

  • Offers registered agent services for a Full year free of charge
  • Offers access to email notifications, a customer portal, and online document storage
  • Help protect your information from public record

Cons

  • Customer service unavailable on weekends
  • Short free trial period

Conclusion:

Rocket lawyer offers fewer services compared to its cheaper counterpart, Northwest. However, they are the best option for business owners looking for legal help. 

In addition, if you need access to LLC formation and registered agent services, Rocket Lawyer is the solution you need.

BetterLegal

BetterLegal is another provider you should consider when looking for a registered agent service for your California LLC. If you choose them as your provider, you’ll work with personal compliance professionals who will take care of all legal documents. Moreover, they provide consultations that’ll help you understand complex compliance issues.

In addition to registered agents, Better Legal also provides LLC formation services. Plus, they can help with business filing and annual reports. We recommend BetterLegal to business owners who need a company that can form their LLC on time, without hassle or delay.

BetterLegal-logo

Pros

  • Quick delivery
  • Easy-to-navigate website
  • Simple LLC process
  • Transparent pricing
  • App tracking, operating agreement, and organization drafting

Cons

  • Zero legal advice or attorney
  • Extra cost for EIN
  • No refund

Conclusion:

While we recommend BetterLegal for companies with a large budget, we wouldn't say likewise for those with a tight budget. This is due to the flat fee they charge, meaning you may have to pay for more than what you need. Nevertheless, you should consider BetterLegal if you want your LLC to form fast, without hassle or delay.

Best California Registered Agent Service Overall

NorthWest Registered Agent logo

Northwest Registered Agent is the best overall registered agent service in California for several reasons. We've researched their features, customers' feedback, and reviews on other significant review sites, along with the service's pricing and ease of use.

We found out that Northwest Registered Agent offers an average number of services and features at a lower price compared to other competitors. 

You can get your Registered Agent Service and your LLC professionally set up by Northwest Registered Agent for only $39 + state filing fee (This includes free Registered Agent service for the 1st year.) And if you only need registered agent service, that costs $125.

Furthermore, Northwest Registered Agent has offices in all 50 US states. So that makes it easier for you if you want your business to expand your business nationwide.

Benefits of Using a California Registered Agent Service

While it's possible to be your own business registered agent, we advise hiring a California registered agent. Here are some of the benefits of doing so.

  • Flexibility. Registered agent services must be available during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 20 days a month. This benefits your business, as your designated California agent will be on the ground to receive and process vital documents on your behalf, even if you aren’t present in the office.
  • Privacy. Hiring a registered agent in California will protect your personal address from public record. Plus, you won’t receive legal documents at your home when you get sued, as the documents will be served to the registered agent's address, usually a business address.
  • Peace of mind. The average California business owner craves the peace of mind. And that is what you stand to gain by hiring a registered agent in California. This agent will help you receive and handle your legal documents, ensuring that you respond to notices promptly while avoiding unnecessary fees and fines. A California registered agent will also help reduce the risk of non-compliance.
  • Expand your business to other states. Regardless of the business entity, you formed—whether an LLC or corporation—you’ll have to register your company in the states you operate. It means you’ll have to hire a registered agent in those states. If you are planning on scaling your business now or later, it's best you hire the services of a registered agent in California rather than serving as your agent and then hiring one when your business grows.

Conclusion:

Ensuring that you choose the best California registered agents will determine if you get this legal notice in time or not. Plus, the right California registered agent will handle your service of process appropriately while ensuring that you are in good standing with the California Secretary of state.

So take time, go through the options above and select the perfect choice for your business.

California Registered Agent Service FAQs

How to choose the best California Registered Agent Service?

To choose the best California registered agent service, consider the following:

  • Reviews
  • Availability, especially during business hours
  • Services offered
  • Experience
  • Certification (is the agent certified by the California secretary of state?)
  • Accreditation (check if the Better Business Bureau accredits the company)

The agent you choose (could be a family member, friend, or dedicated company) is listed on the business formation documents and mailed to the California Secretary of State office.

Do I need a registered agent in California?

Yes, it would be best to have a registered agent in California. Without a registered agent’s name listed on your Articles of Organization, your company may have to pay state fees, penalties, etc.

Plus, the secretary of state will reject your business filing if your articles of incorporation don't contain your registered agent's information.

How much does a registered agent cost in California?

It costs between $100 and $300 annually to acquire the services of a registered agent in California.

Can I use a virtual address for my LLC?

Yes, you can use a virtual address for your LLC. This option is available for sole proprietors, those who run their company as an LLC, or corporations.

Can I use a PO Box for my LLC in California?

No, you cannot use a P.O. Box as your business address or registered agent address for your California LLC. If you do, the Secretary of State will reject the article of incorporation as it's against state law.

Can I be my own registered agent for an LLC in California?

Yes, you can act as a registered agent for your business. But you need a street address as states don't accept PO Boxes for registered agents. In addition, hiring a registered agent service is an excellent investment in time management and privacy.

How much does it cost to change my registered agent?

Changing your registered agent costs $0 to $50 per state. The filing fee or cost varies depending on the number of states you are registered in to conduct business with your LLC.

What is the difference between a registered agent, agent for service of process, and resident agent?

A registered agent is a synonym for an agent for service of process, resident agent, and even statutory agent. They all mean the same thing—there is no difference.

What is the service of process?

Service of process is the act of presenting legal documents like a complaint or petition to an opposing party to ensure that they are aware of the action and have time to prepare a response.