You formed your California LLC. You did the paperwork. You started operating your business. And now, for one reason or another, you need to change your agent for service of process. No worries, we’ve got you covered.
There are a number of reasons you might need to change your California LLC’s agent for service of process. Maybe your designated agent moved out of state, left the company, or no longer wants the responsibility. Maybe you had assigned the job to yourself, and you no longer want your address on public record. Maybe (hopefully) your business has expanded so much that you no longer have time to handle the agent responsibilities.
Whatever your reason may be, changing an agent for service of process in California might seem like a daunting task, with a mountain of paperwork and legal proceedings involved. However it’s actually quite simple, and this guide will help make the process quick and painless.
What the State of California Says about changing an Agent for Service of Process
A quick note to avoid potential confusion: what California calls the “agent for service of process” on its Secretary of State website and documents, you may see other states call a “registered agent” or “statutory agent.” Know that these terms are synonymous and all three have the same position and responsibilities.
That said, the state of California has certain requirements about changing your LLC’s agent for service of process. Your ticket to a new agent is Form LLC-12, otherwise known as a “Statement of Information.” You can find it, along with detailed instructions for its completion on the California Secretary of State’s Forms, Samples, and Fees webpage. You may submit this form online, or by mailing it to the Secretary of State’s office.
There’s a ton of great information about California’s agent for service of process procedures on the S.O.S. website’s FAQ page.
Who can be a California Registered Agent
You can’t pick just anyone to be a registered agent for your LLC. The state of California puts certain restrictions on who can serve as one. If you’re choosing or changing your registered agent, keep these requirements in mind. The registered agent in California must:
- Be an individual California resident or a business entity located in California
- Have a California street address (P.O. boxes are not allowed)
* If your registered agent is a foreign business entity, it must be authorized to transact business in California
How to Change Your California Agent for Service of Process
In order to change your registered agent in California, you must file a Statement of Information. This is the same form whether you’re a domestic or foreign LLC. It’s a multipurpose form that California requires all LLCs to file within 90 days of formation and every two years after that. However, you’re also allowed to submit a new one at any time to notify the state about agent for service of process or other changes.
When you do your required 90-day and biennial Statement of Information filings, there is a $20 fee attached. But any time you submit this form to change your LLC information in between required filings, you do so free of charge.
Your filing options are online, by mail, or in person and all three have the same fee structure. To submit via mail, download and complete the form, then send it to:
Secretary of State, Statement of Information Unit
P.O. Box 944230
Sacramento, CA 94244-2300
Or, if you’re local to Sacramento and feel like getting out and about, you can hand deliver it to the Secretary of State’s office at:
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
If you aren’t near Sacramento and don’t want to wait for your form to arrive by mail, you have another option. Filing online is the quickest and easiest way to get it done. Just click the computer icon next to the Statement of Information form and follow the onscreen instructions.
In certain states, you can change you agent for service of process by updating your Articles of Organization or annual report. Unfortunately, California does not allow you to make the change by updating your Articles of Organization. However, your biennial Statement of Information filings serves as your “annual report,” and you can also change your agent during that process.
If you’re too busy, or if you’d feel more comfortable letting someone else take the reins, you have the option of hiring a company or individual to file your paperwork for you. It’s a great way to save time and stress.
Submit your form? Pay your fee? You’re on your way to a new agent for service of process. If you want to know when to expect the change, the Secretary of State website updates their processing times on a day-to-day basis, and you can find them here.
Consider a Registered Agent Service
Think of your registered agent as a mediator between you and the state of California, the person or business entity that handles some of your most important paperwork.
In case you thought the registered agent was just a formality, look at the documents they handle:
- service of process notices
- tax information
- and other Secretary of State correspondence.
A lot of important stuff. Which is why a reliable registered agent is essential to every California business owner.
By handling high-priority and sensitive documents on your behalf, your registered agent takes care of your communications with the state, so you can spend more time building your business.
Plus, if you operate a California small business from out of state, a trustworthy registered agent is especially important, as the state requires a local contact for your LLC. Having this contact ensures your company will receive and respond to time-sensitive documents, so you won’t miss filings and get hit with penalties.
If you’re unsure where to find a good California registered agent, consider using a registered agent service. These companies provide you a reliable, professional registered agent so you can have peace of mind knowing you won’t ever miss a filing, tax deadline, or state correspondence.
Sure, you can jump online, search “registered agent service,” and get a ton of results. But the truth is that not all of these services are trustworthy. So, we’ve done some research for you. If you want to know you’re getting a top-quality registered agent, take a look at our comparison guide on the top five registered agent services.