Sometimes, for one reason or another, you want to change registered agent service.
It might be you aren’t happy with your current service, or you think you have found a better option (here’s our guide to the best registered agent services serving California).
Changing a registered agent in California is a simple process that requires a few steps, which we go through in this article.
The process is straightforward and can be completed online or by mail.
It is important to keep the registered agent information up to date to ensure that important documents are received in a timely manner.
Failure to maintain accurate and up-to-date registered agent information can result in legal and financial consequences for a business. Therefore, it is recommended that businesses regularly review their registered agent information and make changes as necessary.
What is a Registered Agent? A registered agent is a person or entity that is designated to receive legal and official documents on behalf of a business. The registered agent must be located in the state where the business is registered and must have a physical address (not a PO Box). More here.
Why Change Registered Agents?
There are several reasons why a California business may need to change its registered agent:
- The current registered agent is no longer available or willing to serve in that capacity.
- The business is changing its physical address or moving to a different state, and the registered agent must be located in the new state.
- The business is dissatisfied with the current registered agent’s services and wants to switch to a different registered agent.
It is important to note that changing a registered agent is a straightforward process, but it must be done correctly to avoid any legal or administrative issues. The California Secretary of State requires businesses to keep their registered agent information up to date, and failure to do so can result in penalties and fines.
Therefore, businesses should carefully consider their options when changing their registered agent and ensure that the new agent is reliable, trustworthy, and capable of fulfilling their responsibilities.
Who can be a California Registered Agent?
California corporations law sets out who can be a registered agent as:
- An individual resident of the state, or…
- A domestic profit corporation, nonprofit corporation, or limited liability company, or…
- A foreign profit corporation or limited liability company having a certificate of authority to transact business in California, or…
- (Corporations only) A domestic or foreign nonprofit corporation authorized to transact business in California.
In addition, a registered agent must be open during regular business hours in order to receive service of process.
Steps to Change Your Registered Agent in California
If you need to change your registered agent in California, you can follow these three steps:
Step 1: Choose a New Registered Agent
The first step is to choose a new California registered agent for your business. The registered agent can be an individual or a business entity that is authorized to do business in California. The registered agent must have a physical address in California where they can receive legal documents and other important correspondence on behalf of your business.
You can choose a new registered agent in several ways. You can appoint an officer or director of your business as the registered agent, or you can hire a professional registered agent service (our recommendation). We’ve researched and created a list of our favorite registered agent services: https://registeredagentsreviewed.com/the-11-best-registered-agent-services-reviewed/
Step 2: Notify Current Registered Agent
After you have chosen a new registered agent service, you must notify your current registered agent of the change. This is an important step because your current registered agent may have important documents or information that they need to transfer to the new registered agent.
You can notify your current registered agent in writing or by phone. Make sure to provide them with the name and contact information of your new registered agent service, and ask them to confirm that they have received the notification.
Step 3: File Change of Registered Agent Form with California Secretary of State
The final step is to file a Change of Registered Agent form with the California Secretary of State. You can file the form online or by mail. The form requires you to provide the name and contact information of your new registered agent, as well as the name and contact information of your business.
Contact Details for California Secretary Of State’s office
- 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, California 95814
- Phone: (916) 653-6814
- Website: https://www.sos.ca.gov/
After you have filed the form and paid the fee, the California Secretary of State will process the request and update your business records. Your new registered agent will start receiving legal documents and other important correspondence on behalf of your business.
See here for info on registered agents in other states.
Consequences of Not Changing Registered Agent Service
When a business owner fails to change their registered agent, they risk facing consequences that can harm their business. Here are some of the potential consequences:
- Lawsuit default: If a lawsuit is filed against the business and the registered agent information is not up to date, the business may not receive notice of the lawsuit. This can result in a default judgement against the business, which can lead to severe financial damages.
- Missed deadlines: Registered agents are responsible for receiving important legal and tax documents on behalf of the business. If the registered agent is not up to date, the business may miss important deadlines or fail to file necessary paperwork, which can lead to fines, penalties, and legal troubles.
- Loss of good standing: If a business fails to maintain an up-to-date registered agent, it may lose its good standing with the state. This can impact the business’s ability to obtain loans, secure contracts, and conduct other important business activities.
Best Registered Agent Services
Our recommendation is to choose one of our recommended registered agent services if you are changing registered agent in California. The firms we recommend are Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness and Incfile.
More on these registered agent services below.
Price: $99 per year
Best customer service
|Northwest Registered Agent|
Price: $125 per year
Price: $119 per year
Best no frills
Price: $99 per year
Price: $299 per year
Changing Registered Agent Service: FAQs
Can I be my own registered agent?
Yes, if you are physically resident in state but there are drawbacks to this, particularly if you use your home address as the registered address of the business.
What are the risks of being my own registered agent?
Some of the issues with this are:
- Privacy concerns: when you act as your own registered agent, your address becomes a public record and can be easily accessed by others, including clients, vendors, or employees
- Loss of privacy: by declaring your residential address as your registered agent address, you may have no boundaries between work life and private life
- Need for regular business hours: registered agents need to have regular business hours to accept service of process, which can be difficult for small business owners who often cannot stay in an office all day and cannot afford to hire full-time employees to work out of a specific location
- Difficulty in maintaining a physical presence: registered agents must have a physical address in the state where the business is registered, which can be challenging for businesses that operate virtually or do not have a physical presence in the state
- Potential for missed legal documents: if you are not available during regular business hours to accept legal documents, you may miss important legal notices and court summons, which could result in legal consequences for your business
- Limited flexibility: being your own registered agent may limit your ability to move your business to another state or expand your business to multiple states, as you would need to maintain a physical address in each state where you operate
Can my lawyer or accountant serve as a registered agent?
Yes, it is fine to use your lawyer or accountant in that capacity, but bear in mind that it is often more reliable and cost effective to use a reputable national registered agent service instead.