Every limited liability company operating in the United States needs to designate a registered agent. Even after you identify your initial registered agent in your formation paperwork, filed on your own or through a CA LLC service, there are several reasons for why you may need to change the registered agent for your LLC in California.
Your registered agent could be moving out of state, or they could be a former co-owner or employee who no longer works for your organization. Maybe you want to switch from an individual registered agent to a professional service that operates in all 50 states, or perhaps you’re simply unsatisfied with your current registered agent’s service.
Whatever the reason may be, each state allows you to change your registered agent at any time, and in most states the process is both simple and inexpensive. Let’s dive into the specifics of how to change your LLC’s registered agent in California.
Need help with the paperwork?
Save time and hassle by hiring a CA registered agent service to deal with the agent change paperwork for you. See our review of the best registered agent services in California for more information.
3 Steps to Change Your California Registered Agent
Thankfully, changing your registered agent in California isn’t a terribly complicated process. If you know the steps to follow, it’s a cinch:
1.) Gather contact information for your new agent:
This might seem like fairly basic information, but the state requires you to gather the full name and street address for your registered agent. If you don’t have this information immediately on hand, you’ll need to get it before proceeding.
2.) Obtain the proper forms:
In California, all LLCs are required to submit a Statement of Information, which acts as a biennial report. But you can also use this report as your change of agent document, too. If your annual report is coming due, then you can let the Statement do double-duty as your biennial report and your agent change. But if your biennial report still isn’t due yet, you can use it as a simple agent change form.
3.) Submit the completed form to the Secretary of State:
California gives you several different filing options: mail, in-person, and online. In-person filings will be charged an expediting fee (varies based on the speed you choose). But no matter how you file, you’ll need to pay the $20 filing fee.
That’s all there is to it! Once the state receives and processes your documents, you’ll have yourself a new registered agent.
Important California Registered Agent Do’s and Don’ts
Want to make your registered agent switch a perfect success? If you follow the steps above, you’ll be off to a great start. But there are a few other things to keep in mind to keep things running smoothly—before, during, and after the switch.
DO follow state regulations when appointing a new agent.
When it all comes down to it, the state of California isn’t incredibly picky about who can be your registered agent, but they still have some rules they want you to follow. If you want to read the state’s guidance, you can find it here. But you’re probably pretty busy (and legalese can be overwhelming!), so here are the essentials:
- Can be an individual or a business entity
- A resident of the state OR a business authorized to do business in the state
- Maintain a physical address in the state (not a P.O. box)
- Be present to accept service of process and official communications at that address during regular business hours
As long as you meet those requirements, you can pick just about anyone to serve as your own registered agent.
DO pick the right agent for your business goals
Before you opt to serve as your own registered agent or hire a registered agent service, you’ll want to consider the right agent for your unique needs. After all, agents aren’t “one-size-fits-all.” Some businesses might benefit from having the owner or an employee serving as their own agent. Others might opt to have a local, California-dedicated registered agent service. And lots of LLCs in CA choose to work with a national service that covers businesses in all 50 states.
There’s not really a wrong answer here. Well, the only wrong answer is not hiring one. That would put you in non-compliance. That said, you should think about your long-term vision for your business when picking a registered agent.
For example, if you want to expand into other states later on, you should pick a service that covers multiple states. That way, you wouldn’t have to hire another service when you joined a new state. You’d just have your pre-existing agent serve you in that state, too.
DON’T confuse your filing options
In some states, your only option would be to file by mail. California, however, gives you a lot of different options. But no matter which method you choose, you should stick with it. You’d hate to pick one method and then choose another halfway through, losing your progress.
It’s also important to note that how you file affects how quickly your documents are processed. If you file in-person, you can get expedited filing options. They’re pretty hefty fees, though. But ordinary filing speeds aren’t too slow: 4 business days upon receipt. So naturally, mail-order filings will take the longest.
DON’T forget to keep both your new and old registered agent in the loop
This might seem like a common courtesy, but when you switch registered agents, you should chat with both (unless, of course, you’re serving as your own agent). Obviously, you’ll talk with your new agent to let them know you’ll require their services. That way, you can touch base with him or her regarding fees and what your ongoing business relationship will look like.
But be sure to touch base with your previous agent, too. This is especially important if you’re paying someone to serve as your registered agent. You’ll want to wrap up any payment obligations, including canceling any automatic payments you’ve set up. And even if a friend or family member was acting as your agent for free, you should let him or her know your plans to avoid any confusion.
Getting Help: Hiring a Registered Agent Service
A registered agent service is a company that specializes in being a registered agent for a wide variety of businesses across the country, bringing tons of expertise and a healthy dose of reliability to the role.
Most professional registered agent services operate on a national basis, meaning there’s no restrictions on which states you can operate your business in. They also tend to charge affordable rates, as you can find several registered agent services that charge around $10/month or even less for this service. In addition, most of these companies will also offer to handle the process of changing a registered agent for you.
Since the registered agent is such a vital part of any business, it’s crucial to get it right whenever you decide to switch agents. We hope this article helped you improve your understanding of changing a registered agent in California. If you’d like more assistance, there are plenty of business services online that can help with changing your agent or even filing an LLC. And, as always, we thank you for choosing Registered Agent Ready!