California Secretary of State Changes Free Information


Today I was on the California Secretary of State’s website and noticed something new. I was searching a client’s public information and noticed that the Registered Agent’s address had been removed. You can see what I mean in the screenshot below. The business address is there, but not the registered agent address. Instead, you are directed perform a Status Report order to get that information. Getting a Status Report takes a few days, requires you to file a separate information request, and costs $4 to come by mail, or $9 to come by fax.

 

CA_Information_Screen

 

Not all addresses are removed. Non-commercial agent addresses appear to still be there. For example, if you act personally as registered agent for your company, your street address will show up in the search screen. That is one of the reasons I suggest to my clients that they use a 3rd party Registered Agent service. I don’t know if you need your personal information out there (at least any more than it already is in this day and age).

So why bring it up? Well, here’s why. The primary purpose of a Registered Agent (sometimes called a Resident Agent) is to provide an orderly way for legal documents to be served upon a business. If you need to sue Joe’s Widgets, Inc., you file your court paperwork, and then have a physical copy served on the Registered Agent. Or, depending on the circumstances, you send a physical copy to the Registered Agent by Certified Mail. Sending certified mail to the business address is not necessary legal service, particularly when you are dealing with an entity which has designated a Registered Agent for that exact purpose.

By removing the Registered Agent’s address from the public record, the state has made it more difficult for a business to be sued. Plus they have added to the cost of service, and created a delay, while you obtain this information.

This procedure also seems to conflict with the Secretary of State’s own website, which states: The California Business Search contains abstracts of certain information relating to corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships based on the most current filings that are of record in this office, including the name and address of the agent for service of process, if any. (http://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/business-entities/service-process/)

It’s not the end of the world, but it does complicate things, and I’m not sure why, other than creating a new paid service for the state.

Need more information? Contact us. We’re here to answer your questions and help you with your business structure and maintenance needs, in California, and all states.

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