I’ve tested the 11 best registered agent services in California. Here’s my review.

There are few things I trust in this world. Especially anything (or anyone) that promises to give good value for my money. Most advertisers have a knack for peddling exaggerated claims such as “best in the world”, or “we won’t flood your inbox”, and “money back guarantee.” 

If you’re as skeptical as I am, you’ve realised that the opposite of the above statements usually applies mostly when dealing with corporate entities, and the registered agent industry is awash with companies that would love nothing more than to swindle you out of your hard-earned cash.

Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to investigate the services of the 11 major California registered agents so that I can prevent you from getting scammed. Here are my findings:

Best Registered Agent: Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent

Negatives:

  • Easy sign-up process
  • Mail scanning, uploading, and forwarding
  • Alerts for important upcoming compliance deadlines
  • $125 per state per year
  • Corporate Guides who can answer your small business questions

Positives:

  • No dedicated account manager
Get Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is my recommendation for the best registered agent in California. They provide every service (both basic and comprehensive) I need to run my business and their customer support is the best in the industry.

As part of their suite of services, they provide me with a business name and business address in the state, file my Statement of Information with the Secretary of State, provide compliance alerts ensuring I don’t miss important deadlines, accept Service of Process on behalf of my business, and they scan, upload, and forward ALL my mail.

Their Corporate Guides are composed of former business owners, lawyers and accountants who go over and above to make sure my business runs smoothly, and they also provide great small business advice that assists me with managing my California business entity.

This type of advice is usually very expensive when provided by boutique business advisory firms and Northwest Registered Agent is the only registered agent that offers this type of customer support.

Don’t let the fact that they don’t provide a dedicated account manager discourage you from trying out their services. Their wide range of affordable offerings and magnificent customer support truly makes up for this small issue.

If you need a California registered agent service that also provides amazing customer support, head over to Northwest Registered Agent.

Best Budget Option: Harbor Compliance

Negatives:

  • Easy sign-up process
  • Mail scanning, uploading, and forwarding
  • Alerts for important upcoming compliance deadlines
  • $125 per state per year
  • Corporate Guides who can answer your small business questions

Positives:

  • No small business advice
Visit Harbor Compliance

I used Harbor Compliance before switching to Northwest Registered Agent who had the Corporate Guides. 

Harbor Compliance is a good alternative especially if you’re looking for personalized attention. Just like Northwest Registered Agent, Harbor Compliance provide great customer support. But unlike Northwest Registered Agent, they assigned me a dedicated account manager who understood my current situation and provided assistance as needed.

Harbor Compliance registered agent assisted me with filing my Statement of Information on my behalf with the California Secretary of State, provided me with a business name and business address in the state, issued compliance notices so that I wouldn’t forget important filing deadlines set by the California Secretary of State, accepted Service of Process on behalf of my business, and scanned and uploaded my documents on a secure online portal.

Their online system is designed to save you time. It’s very intuitive and easy to navigate.

The account managers are trained to provide assistance with your normal business requirements such as filing your documents on your behalf with the office of the California Secretary of State or reminding you of filing deadlines, but they really don’t offer actual California business advice so you’ll have to seek the services of a third party business advisor.

To learn more about Harbor Compliance and their services, visit their website now.


My Process

I’ve spent the best part of the last 12 months deep in the murky world of California registered agent services trying to figure out which company sold the best services. 

My Start:

I like to believe that being skeptical is a basic, human trait. Some people wouldn’t trust a “wet paint” sign unless they touched the actual paint just to test whether this is true. I happen to belong to this camp of people and, given the world we live in today, I can excuse anyone for not trusting every bit of information that’s being peddled out there. As the famous astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

My skepticism was tested further when I was investigating the 11 major registered agent services in California. Most companies publicize their services as “the best,” “award-winning,” or “top in class,” which is common advertising wordplay that doesn’t reflect the services they actually offer.

The only way to find out which registered agents offered substandard services and which were genuine was to sign up to every registered agent service, all 11. 

So I came up with 11 different businesses, keyed in my credit card information and then began 12 busy months of a thorough registered agent review process that not only satisfied my need for exhaustive research, but also enabled me to figure out which is the best registered agent in California.

My Criteria

Before I started my registered agent service review, I formulated a list of criteria by which to judge the quality of services that each registered agent had to offer:

  • Full suite of services—no hidden prices, fine print, or obnoxious upsells to hoodwink me
  • A business name and business address in California
  • Statement of Information filing with the California Secretary of State
  • Top-notch security for my personal information and documents
  • Scanning and forwarding mail on behalf of my business
  • Registered agent available to accept Service of Process and other legal documents every business day during normal business hours
  • Notifications of filing dates due with the California Secretary of State
  • A bit of “mileage” with a proven track record of reliability and delivery
  • Online, easy-to-navigate sign-up system, with pre-filled forms
  • Quality customer support services, polite AND effective

Any registered agent who didn’t provide these services, or those that included some of them in their more expensive packages, were scratched off my list. It’s all or nothing.

My Journey

With over 50 registered agents to go through, I had my work cut out for me. But thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to eliminate close to a third of this number during my first stage in the quest to find the best California agent for service.

This stage involved going through online reviews and reading thousands of comments left by dissatisfied customers. Some complained about the lack of basic services, others grumbled about the pricing structures, while others protested the poor customer support services. This process allowed me to do away with the majority of registered agents that only offered poor services, and in the end I was left with about 16 companies that showed some promise.

For the next step, I logged onto the websites of the remaining registered agents just to go through the claims and promises they made, and right away I had enough reasons to drop a few other registered agents from my list of contenders.

Some sold their lack of experience as their most appealing aspect. The claim that customers should trust you because you are a “fresh face” in the industry doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. You don’t want to entrust your acceptance of Service of Process to the new agent on the block. Others threatened to send your completed forms through a facsimile machine. I’m sorry, but this is the 21st century and fax machines shouldn’t even exist. Then there are those registered agents that bait you with a cheap service only to get you hooked to their most expensive services.

In the end, I was left with 11 serious contenders to review.

My Results

After days of reviewing California registered agents, here are the results of my research:

My Favorite Registered Agent Service: Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is the #1 California Registered Agent because they provide affordable and reliable services that ensure that my business meets all the legal obligations mandated by the California Secretary of State. On top of that, their customer support service is the best in the industry.

My Experience

My experience with Northwest Registered Agent was amazing compared with the other registered agents on this list. To start with, their website is highly intuitive. It took me only a few minutes to sail through their clutter-free sign-up page without any challenges.

As far as services go, Northwest Registered Agent provides a wide array of services. For instance, they make sure that your Articles of Organization are filed and submitted, provide a business name and physical street address in California, scan, upload and forward all important documents to your online document portal (including Service of Process), and they provide compliance alerts that remind you of important filing deadlines, such as your Statement of Information. These comprehensive and reliable services ensure your business remains in compliance with the California Secretary of State.

However, the one aspect about Northwest Registered Agent that impressed me the most was their customer support team, the Corporate Guides.

When I contacted the support teams of other registered agents on my list, I was given generic answers related to their services only, and ultimately, I could predict their answers before I even asked a question.

But things are very different with Northwest Registered Agent. Their Corporate Guides are a team of professionals from diverse backgrounds, such as law and accounting, and have a wealth of knowledge on how to run a business in the state of California. 

When I contacted them for assistance during my business formation process, they walked me through every single step, and after that, they were always on standby to provide great business advice when I needed it, such as how to successfully run a marketing campaign or how to attract the best employees for your fledgling business. 

This type of professional business advice costs thousands when you get it from boutique business advisory firms, so it’s a relief to come across a California registered agent that has it included as part of their service list.

My Recommendation

I would strongly advise anyone who wants to open a business in California to choose Northwest Registered Agent because not only are their registered agent services affordable and reliable but their customer support is far better than every other California registered agent service on this list.

They will go above and beyond to make sure that your California LLC is in good standing with the office of the California Secretary of State, and whenever you face any challenges during your daily business activities, they are always ready to provide great business advice.

For $125 per year, they are slightly more expensive than the next California registered agent on my list, but their services are truly worth the price.

When you’re ready to start your California business adventure and need to appoint a California registered agent that’s reliable, trustworthy, and affordable, head over to Northwest Registered Agent.

My Budget Pick: Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance came in second overall because despite not offering the level of business support I got from Northwest Registered Agent, they provided a personal account manager dedicated to assisting me during my LLC formation process. They are also the most affordable California registered agent on this list at $99.

My Experience

The one thing I liked about Harbor Compliance is their simplistic approach to doing business. To start with, their website is very simple and intuitive and saves you a lot of time when signing up. You can tell they really worked hard to make sure that all the bells and whistles were in place and working well.

Their marketing strategy also reflects this minimalistic nature. They provide all the essential services your California LLC needs to get up and running with no hidden prices or clickbait packages that entice you to purchase more expensive offerings. 

They forwarded and uploaded my important documents to my business address, and even though I hadn’t been served any Service of Process documents, Harbor Compliance assured me they would alert me if and when that happens.

The dedicated account manager they provided after the sign-up process has answered all my questions regarding their registered agent service in California. He didn’t provide the level of business advice you get from the Northwest Registered Agent Corporate Guides, but I highly appreciated the personalized service.

My Recommendation

Harbor Compliance is a California registered agent you can trust. Their registered agent services are reliable and they are the most affordable registered agent in California.

They’ll keep your California LLC on the good side of the law by making sure that your legal obligations with the California Secretary of State are taken care of. Their online systems are very well designed and simple to navigate.

If you’re starting a business or switching agents and you need a registered agent that provides affordable services and personalized customer support services, you should consider choosing Harbor Compliance.

Other Registered Agent Services

There are nine more registered agents on this list that I included in my quest to find the best registered agent for your California business. Here they are in no particular order.

Rapid Registered Agent—A few fun features

Rapid Registered Agent charges $120 for their California registered agent services. They helped me fill out a couple of the time-consuming documents necessary to ensure I didn’t irritate the bigwigs in control. This was quite convenient for me because I despise paperwork.

They don’t have the level of customer support you get from Harbor Compliance or Northwest Registered Agent, but they are still a reliable company that will take care of all your business’s legal obligations so you have more time to focus on your daily business activities.

Rocket Lawyer—Great for online services

Rocket Lawyer isn’t what you’d call a full-service California registered agent. They are in fact an online legal service that offers a couple of registered agent services, such as forwarding Service of Process documents to your mail and an online document repository that you can access at any time.

Despite specializing in legal advice rather than registered agent service, Rocket Lawyer is a good choice if you need all your business’s legal obligations handled by one firm.

Team ‘Nothing Special’

The following four California registered agent services are so identical that it’s hardly worth writing about them separately. Jumpstart Filings ($150), SunDoc Filings ($159), Registered Agents Inc. ($200), and Incorporate.com ($235) are among the select members of the “nice, but nothing spectacular” club.

These are LLC formation services that have dipped their toes into the California registered agent service realm and supply what I need from a registered agent service without offering anything unique or noteworthy.

Team “Big Brand”

These are big name brands that rely more on their “Big Brand” image to sell their California registered agent services. They include LegalZoom ($299), Wolters Kluwer ($305), and CSC Global ($299).

They’re more than happy to charge exorbitant prices for what is essentially the same product as everyone else’s because they all have a good-looking website with all the bells and whistles and good marketing personnel who provide any information you need about their services. Not to mention that they all provide additional services (like an LLC service or other business formation service), for an extra fee, of course. Their customer care services are decent, but Northwest Registered Agent and Harbor Compliance, on the other hand, provide the same quality of service for less than half the cost.

* All prices mentioned are per state, per year.

Wrapping It All Up

When going through my review of each California registered agent service, it dawned on me that there is only one company that provided everything I needed from a registered agent in California, and that’s Northwest Registered Agent

For $125, they accept legal documents and upload them to an online document portal that lets you access your legal documents. They scan and forward your mail, provide compliance alerts that remind you of upcoming filing deadlines so that you are up-to-date with the California Secretary of State, and provide a statutory agent who is available during normal business hours.

No doubt you know by now that what puts them at the top of this list is their team of Corporate Guides. The Corporate Guides will assist you from the beginning of your business and beyond, and not only that, they will also provide great business advice that will get your California LLC out of any sticky situations.

If you are ready to start your business adventure in the state of California, visit Northwest Registered Agent.


The Best Registered Agent Service Around The United States

Alabama Registered Agent
Alaska Registered Agent
Arizona Registered Agent
Arkansas Registered Agent
California Registered Agent
Colorado Registered Agent
Connecticut Registered Agent
Delaware Registered Agent
Florida Registered Agent
Georgia Registered Agent
Hawaii Registered Agent
Idaho Registered Agent
Illinois Registered Agent
Indiana Registered Agent
Iowa Registered Agent
Kansas Registered Agent
Kentucky Registered Agent

Lousiana Registered Agent
Maine Registered Agent
Maryland Registered Agent
Massachusetts Registered Agent
Michigan Registered Agent
Minnesota Registered Agent
Mississippi Registered Agent
Missouri Registered Agent
Montana Registered Agent
Nebraska Registered Agent
Nevada Registered Agent
New Hampshire Registered Agent
New Jersey Registered Agent
New Mexico Registered Agent
New York Registered Agent
North Carolina Registered Agent
North Dakota Registered Agent

Ohio Registered Agent
Oklahoma Registered Agent
Oregon Registered Agent
Pennsylvania Registered Agent
Rhode Island Registered Agent
South Carolina Registered Agent
South Dakota Registered Agent
Tennessee Registered Agent
Texas Registered Agent
Utah Registered Agent
Vermont Registered Agent
Virginia Registered Agent
Washington Registered Agent
Washington DC Registered Agent
West Virginia Registered Agent
Wisconsin Registered Agent
Wyoming Registered Agent

Navigation

About
Privacy Policy
Contact

Notice

The Lincoln Business Guides are not affiliated with, nor have any association with, the London Benchmark Group.