Choosing the right registered agent in good standing for your California business is crucial for success.
The right Registered Agent will make sure that your information and privacy are protected, that your legal assets remain safe, ensure that your business entity will receive important information from the California Secretary of State and other correspondence from state offices, as well as service of process. They will provide you with a registered office address, and enable you to meet all of your compliance obligations, like a statement of information. They’ll also keep your information safe from public record.
The wrong Registered Agent will cause you all sorts of headaches and lead to possible ruin, including lawsuits, and having crucial information for your Limited Liability Company (LLC) leaked to hackers and scammers.
Using our 5-factor, 4-stage analysis process, here are our choices for the best registered agent in California.
1. Harbor Compliance – 9.13/10 (Top Registered Agent Service)
Harbor Compliance has the best registered agent services for the best value in California.
Harbor Compliance is a fantastic, full-service registered agent service or California agent for service, as well as an LLC formation service that can help you with articles of incorporation and articles of organization.
They’ll provide you with a business address to receive important correspondence from the California Secretary of State, scan your important documents, then allow you to access them online and also forward them to you in the mail.
They’ll also give you notifications about upcoming compliance deadlines, like statement of information, during normal business hours. In addition to all of this, they’ll keep your information off the public record and accept service of process on behalf of your business.
They have a very simple signup process, and their computer system is easy to use. Its USP is that it is designed so that people can access registration services for multiple states on the same portal. So, it’s easy for your corporation to grow with this company, both within and outside the state of California.
The only real downfall of Harbor Compliance when compared with other California registered agents is that it’s a full-service registered agent, not a premium registered agent. That means you won’t get identity theft protection along with their other agent services.
Identity theft protection is easily purchased elsewhere, however. So, if you’re concerned about the protection of your business information, you can still consider Harbor Compliance as long as you go to another service for identity theft protection.
Harbor Compliance is an excellent, full-service registered agent option in California. They offer all of the services you’d expect a registered agent business to provide. They also offer registered agent services in all 50 states, so you can still do business with them even if your corporation expands outside the state of California.
They also provide all of these services for only $99 per year, making Harbor Compliance the registered agent with the best value on our list.
If you need a registered agent service for your California small business, get it here: Harbor Compliance.
2. Northwest Registered Agent – 7.81/10 (Best Customer Service)
Northwest Registered Agent is #2 on our list for overall best registered agent in California, but they’re first on the list in terms of customer service.
Northwest Registered Agent will provide you with all of the same services that Harbor Compliance does.
They’ll provide you with the California business address and the mail forwarding of important notices from the California Secretary of State and service of process that you expect from a registered agent.
They’ll scan all of your documents and let you access all of your information from an online portal, and give you the all-important notifications about legal compliance deadlines, like statement of information, for your corporation during regular business hours.
And finally, they provide LLC formation services and can help with your articles of incorporation and articles of organization in their easy-to-use online system.
But, the best part about Northwest Registered Agent is the customer service they provide. When you sign up for their registered agent services, you get access to their customer service team for life. They answer you in a timely manner, they answer your questions in a friendly, easy-to-understand way, and make sure that they fix your problems.
Though their customer service is excellent, you’re going to pay 25% more for their services than you would for Harbor Compliance’s.
However, if you want excellent customer service for your business, it may be worth it to you to pay a little extra for good service.
If you dislike Harbor Compliance for some reason, Northwest Registered Agent is a solid choice.
They provide all the basics you need to ensure your business meets all legal requirements while keeping your personal information and assets away from scammers.
Even though they cost 25% more than Harbor Compliance, their stellar customer support more than makes up for it.
If you need a California registered agent that will provide your business with excellent customer service, Northwest Registered Agent is a great option.
3. LegalZoom – 6.59/10 (Best Premium Registered Agent)
LegalZoom is the best premium registered agent service in California, but as you’ll see, there’s a reason it’s third on our list.
One of the good things about using LegalZoom as the registered agent or agent for service for your business in California is that it’s widely recognized as a legitimate business.
On top of getting all of the services you would expect from a registered agent, like a California business address and mail forwarding of important correspondence from the California Secretary of State and service of process, you also get up to $1,000,000 in identity theft protection.
They charge $299 per year for their services, which means they cost $200 more than Harbor Compliance. Yes, LegalZoom does provide identity theft protection, but you could easily pay Harbor Compliance’s fee and then purchase identity theft protection somewhere else for less than what LegalZoom is charging.
Registered agent services aren’t LegalZoom’s primary service, so it isn’t what their business focuses on. Their customer service isn’t answered in as timely a manner as Northwest Registered Agent, and they generally don’t know as much about the registered agent services they provide, so they aren’t as helpful.
LegalZoom is a name that’s pretty recognized in the business industry, and they’re considered to be a good and reputable business in California.
If you’re already in business with LegalZoom and using some of their other services for your business, or if you’re looking for a registered agent to provide you with identity theft protection, LegalZoom may be the way to go.
Here are reviews of the other nine registered agents in California that made our list, in less detail than our top three list.
ZenBusiness offers most of the services you’d expect a registered agent to provide including a business address in California, accept legal documents and notices on behalf of your California corporate business entity, mail forwarding of notices from the California Secretary of State (including service of process and statement of information).
The reason they’re #4 on this list though is that if you want compliance deadline notifications, you’ll have to pay an extra $49 per month making them $149/month.
They do, however, include 1 year of their registered agent service when you use their LLC formation service so they do have their benefits. You can read a full review of their LLC formation service here: ZenBusiness Review.
IncFile offers a pretty standard array of registered agent services, but there are several drawbacks to this service, including that their customer service is only available during business hours.
They also charge $119 per year per state for their services. The services they provide are pretty similar to those of Harbor Compliance, and Harbor Compliance only charges $99 per year. So, this really isn’t a great option unless you want to pay more for the same services for some reason.
6. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is essentially a cheap knockoff of LegalZoom. They charge $149 per year per state for their registered agent services and, while they provide you with a business address in California in order to receive mail from the Secretary of State and service of process, you’ll only be able to contact them during business hours. They actually provide you with fewer services than Harbor Compliance and they’re more expensive.
7. SunDoc Filings
SunDoc Filings another registered agent service in California that offers really bare bones services. You’ll get the business address in California that you need, along with receipt of important documents and information, but they don’t give you any alerts and they cost $159 per year. So, Harbor Compliance is still the better option of the two.
InCorp InCorp registered agent provides you with all of the typical services business owners would expect, such as the all-important business address and access to documents and information. In fact, they provide the same services at the same price as Harbor Compliance. The drawback is their system is so difficult to navigate that it forced us to put InCorp at the bottom of our list.
9. Swyft Filings
What you get from Swyft Filings is pretty typical from low-tier registered agent services in California. You get a bare bones service list, including a business address, but you’re charged $149 per year for it.
10. CSC Global
CSC Global is another premium service. They offer many of the registered agent services you’d expect, including the business address and access to your documents and information. The only semi-unique service they provide is that they’ll cover any state fee you incur when you move your company to them. However, they charge $299 per year per state. For that price, you could go with Harbor Compliance and then pay the state fee yourself for less.
11. Registered Agents Inc.
Registered Agents Inc. is the only company on this list that specializes solely in registered agent services which means you get a lot more from them than just a business address. The problem is that they charge $200 per year per state for their services, so in terms of price, Harbor Compliance is still the best option.
12. Jumpstart Filings
Jumpstart Filings will provide you with the bare minimum in terms of service, providing you with little more than a business address. But, they charge $129 per year for minimal services.
Best Registered Agent Review Methodology
This is how we arrived at our conclusions.
Why You Should Trust Us
In short, you should trust me because I’ve spent more time researching registered agents than anyone else has.
I started out with two businesses, a cafe and a health website, both of which I found registered agent services for. I eventually closed these businesses and started looking for something new.
Then my friends started coming to me asking for advice about how to find a good registered agent. I wrote down the advice I gave them, and that advice eventually turned into this venture: helping random people on the internet find their ideal registered agent service!
How We Selected The Best Registered Agent in California
Selecting the best California registered agent for your llc actually started with a 4-stage process that we put 64 different registered agent services through.
Stage 1: Reviews
Online reviews from customers who have actually dealt with the registered agent service are a great way to get an idea about how they will actually treat you and what they can do for your LLC. We read through reviews on TrustPilot, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau and others.
To be fair, there’s no way we could actually read through every last review about each California registered agent, as there were thousands. But we did read the ones that were longer than a paragraph or two and gave us the most information.
These let us know which companies used misleading pricing (more on that later) or were outright scams.
Stage 2: Offering Analysis
Another way to get an idea about the service a California registered agent provides is to check out their website.
We looked at things like whether they offered a variety of services, whether they provided multiple ways to contact their customer service team and provided contact information, their location, the history of their registered agent company, and any awards they displayed on their site.
This literally gave us a picture of each California registered agent we researched, and it told us how they presented themselves.
Stage 3: Speaking With Real Customers
Looking at online reviews and company websites is helpful, but so too is talking to actual customers who have actually dealt with each registered agent in California.
We asked people who’d used our site’s recommendations for registered agents, as well as those who’d already had experiences with registered agents and were happy to share their experiences.. This was understandably more telling than the company’s website offerings because the customers revealed what the registered agent did or didn’t do for their LLC.
Stage 4: Speak With Their Sales Team
If you want to know how legitimate a particular registered agent business is, start by talking to their sales team. We took a bunch of the complaints that their customers had voiced about their registered agent services in California, called them up and analyzed how their sales team reacted to them.
Shockingly, some of the registered agents we spoke with actually suggested that the customer that had left the bad review was ‘crazy’ and that we just basically shouldn’t listen to them. But others inspired more confidence, telling us they had taken the criticism and used it to change that particular aspect of their service, so it wasn’t an issue anymore.
This stage really separated the good from the bad, and helped us to weed out the worst registered agent services in California.
These are the factors we used to rate the remaining 12 agents, and how we came to choose the best registered agent California had to offer.
Factor 1: Offerings
The first factor we analyzed was the services that the California registered agents offered. It makes no difference if a registered agent has really cheap rates and great customer service, if they don’t provide the services your California LLC needs, they’re of no use to you.
Some of the factors we took into account were things like whether they provide an online portal for you to access all of your important business documents, rather than just forwarding them to you, whether they actually give you notifications about your upcoming California LLC compliance deadlines or just give you a calendar of them, and whether they actually offer identity theft protection or just promise that your information will be safe.
Factor 2: Price
The second factor we used to choose our top California registered agent was price. It actually varies pretty widely from one registered agent service to the next.
We found out that there were 3 different price ranges when it came to registered agents: budget, full-service and premium. Budget services cost around $39 per year, and offer the bare minimum services that a registered agent must provide. Full-service registered agent services cost around $99-$129 per year, and premium services run $299 per year and up.
Those with the best prices for the amount of services they provide were put at the top of the list, while those who were expensive and offered few services found their way to the bottom of the list.
It’s worth noting that there aren’t any budget offerings on our list because it seems they have deceptive pricing practices. Sure, it’s $39 per year for their basic services. But in order to get services such as LLC compliance notifications, they charge more than some full-service options charge for a whole range of services.
Factor 3: Ease of Signup
Our third factor was how easy it is to get your LLC set up with their service. It doesn’t matter if they have the good prices or services you want if getting your LLC set up with them is a complete nightmare.
Those whose systems were highly automated and streamlined went towards the top of the list, while those whose systems took forever and were immensely labor-intensive went to the bottom.
Factor 4: Ease of Use
After you’re set up with a California registered agent, you’ll start trying to learn and navigate their system; some of them are so challenging to use that you’re not even going to want them associated with your corporation.
So, those companies with the simple, user-friendly systems earned higher spots on our list than those whose systems were difficult to learn or navigate.
Factor 5: Customer Service
It really doesn’t matter how great the registered agent’s computer system is, someone in your corporation is eventually going to have a question about it. So, it’s important that your registered agent has good customer service.
Our rating on this factor accounted for whether they replied quickly or contacted us, how friendly they were, if they answered the questions we had adequately and if they answered our queries in easy-to-understand ways.
The Best California Registered Agent Service Review Summary
We assessed 64 registered agent services through these 4 criteria and our 5-stage process. This is what we found:
Overall Best California Registered Agent Service – Harbor Compliance (9.13/10)
Harbor Compliance is at the top of our list because it’s the best registered agent California has to offer. They offer all of the services that a registered agent must provide, and they charge the least for the services.
Not only do you get your obligatory California business address, but also, your documents are scanned and uploaded for you to easily access online, your mail is forwarded, and you get legal notices, such as alerts for LLC compliance deadlines. They also have offices in every state, which means that as your LLC grows, you can keep the same registered agent to suit your needs within and beyond the state of California.
They only charge $99 per year for their California registered agent service, which is the best value on the market.
If you need a registered agent for your California business, visit Harbor Compliance now: Harbor Compliance
Best Customer Support – Northwest Registered Agent (7.81/10)
Northwest Registered Agent provides all of the services that Harbor Compliance does, but also has stellar customer service, which you have lifelong access to. Their strong focus on customer service and support can be really helpful to a budding LLC.
They charge $125 per year for their services, but it may be worth it to pay the extra amount if you’re new to the LLC game.
Best Premium California Registered Agent Service – LegalZoom (6.59/10)
LegalZoom is the best premium-level registered agent in California. They offer generally the same service options as Harbor Compliance, with the addition of up to $1 million in identity theft protection, which can be important to an LLC.
They charge $299 per year, but if identity theft and asset protection are important to your LLC, you may want to consider them.
Out of the list of over 60 registered agents we investigated, we found Harbor Compliance to be the best option in the state of California.
They provide you with all of the registered agent services that you need, going beyond just providing you with a business address. And, they only charge $99 per year for the litany of services they provide.
They don’t offer premium services, like identity theft protection, but they’re still the best full-service agent on this list for the price.
So, if you need to appoint a California registered agent, Harbor Compliance is the best option.
Additional California Business Services
Best Registered Agent By State
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