In a post last week (FreeRegisteredAgent.com Inaugurates Hall of Shame), I wrote that corporations (and other entities) formed in California do not require registered agents. After replying to a comment on that post and a separate e-mail from another reader, I realize that I should be more explicit about how an agent for service of process (in California) differs from a registered agent (in Delaware and many other states).
Here is the difference:
- A registered agent typically is picked from a list maintained by the state and is paid for its services. (In Delaware, especially, registered agents are a major industry.) Furthermore, there generally is a requirement that the registered agent be available at its office sufficiently frequently to receive service of process, and it must forward to the corporation notice of its obligation to file an annual franchise tax report. (See, e.g., Delaware General Corporation Law Section 132.)
- An agent for service of process can be any individual or any corporation (other than the one being formed, and subject to Corporations Code Section 1505) in California and need not necessarily be paid. So, for example, an individual forming a corporation in California can designate himself, or (presumably, with permission) his brother-in-law or his lawyer, as the corporation’s agent for service of process. Furthermore, the Corporations Code does not subject the agent obligations such as availability to receive service. California agents can resign more easily, too – see “How to Resign as Agent for Service of Process“.
Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law +1 510-547-0545 dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
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