There are only a few requirements to being a registered agent – which means that you can choose to do it yourself, have someone you know to do it, or hire a registered agent service.
While it can be less expensive to do it yourself or have a friend do it, it’s been our experience that hiring a service is the best way to go.
Read on to learn some of the biggest reasons why we think hiring a registered agent service is the right choice for most small businesses. For a relatively low cost, a high-quality registered agent service can help protect your privacy, ensure legal compliance, and much more.
What is a Registered Agent Service?
A registered agent service provides businesses with a registered agent for a fee. For a yearly fee, the service maintains an agent at a physical address in the state during normal business hours to receive service of process and other important documents. Upon receipt, the service scans the documents and uploads them for the business to review.
Some services offer additional features and benefits, like additional mail forwarding, business guides, and other features that can help business owners.
Recommended Registered Agent Service
Northwest Registered Agent is a top-rated premium LLC formation service with great customer support and a commitment to data privacy.
What is the Purpose of a Registered Agent Service?
Every business needs a registered agent in each state they do business in. While it’s possible to serve as your own registered agent or have someone you know serve in the role, using a professional service is generally more convenient and reliable. It also frees you to focus on running your business instead of waiting around for documents.
How Much Does a Registered Agent Service Cost?
A registered agent service can cost from $99 to $300 or more, typically along with your LLC formation fees. The less expensive services tend to be basic — they receive documents, scan them, and upload them for you to read. Once the price goes up, the service is likely to offer additional features like forwarding other business mail, access to business experts, and other useful additions.
Reasons to Use a Registered Agent Service
You aren’t required to use a registered agent service; however, we think that the benefits more than justify the cost – especially if you choose a reasonably-priced service provider. Some of the main benefits include:
When you use a registered agent service, it’s the address of the service that becomes part of the public record. This provides a layer of privacy that you don’t get if you serve as your own registered agent. If you work from home, the extra privacy prevents solicitations to your home (including a lot of junk mail). If you work from an office, the extra privacy means that if you are sued, the service of process won’t be presented to you in front of everyone. It goes to the service provider instead.
A registered agent service is always there to receive important documents and notify you of their receipt quickly. It also keeps everything organized and available. All of this makes it much easier to comply with any legal requirements like state communications or legal demands. You have to have a registered agent according to state law, so using a service also makes sure you meet this requirement.
One of the more inconvenient parts of being your own registered agent is the demands it makes on your time. You have to be available to receive documents Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, always. That does not give you a lot of flexibility to set your own schedule or enjoy your freedom as a small business owner. But if you use a service, you don’t have to worry about any of this. The service provider is always available as required by law.
National registered agent services are available in all 50 states. You don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to find someone to serve as your agent. Just let the service provider know you want the service, and it will provide as many agents as you need in any state you want to do business.
How to Choose a Registered Agent Service
There are plenty of registered agent services out there, which can make it hard to know which to choose. That’s why we have reviewed most of them and determined which ones we think are the best. We looked at criteria that were most important to small business owners, including:
- Cost: Do you get your money’s worth when you use the service?
- Features: Are the included features the ones you need, including receiving and scanning important documents and uploading them in a timely manner?
- Customer Service: Is there a competent, friendly support team that is accessible to answer your questions?
- User Reviews: How do other customers feel about the service?
- Accessibility and Transparency: Are the services clearly explained? Does the service provider try to charge hidden fees?
Taking all of these factors into consideration, we rate the services and let you know which ones are the best.
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent, which offers a year of its registered agent service for free when you use the company to form your LLC ($29 + state fees).
Recommended Registered Agent Service
Our recommended registered agent service is Northwest Registered Agent. The features offered by Northwest include everything you need and then some:
- Same-day local document scanning
- Free scanning and forwarding of up to five non-state or legal documents
- Privacy by default
- Lifetime support from Corporate Guides with state-specific expertise
- Notifications when it’s time to file your annual report with the state
Northwest charges $125 per year for its service. This is a little higher than some, but it includes more than the cheaper services do. Things like scanning other business mail and access to Corporate Guides can be very helpful for the average small business owner. That’s why we think Northwest is the best.
Recommended Registered Agent Service
Northwest Registered Agent offers its registered agent service for one year when you form your LLC ($29 + state fees) with them.
Benefits of a Registered Agent Service FAQ
What is the purpose of a registered agent service?
A registered agent service meets state requirements for your registered agent, scans important documents, and makes sure you see them as soon as possible. This kind of service can improve privacy, ensure legal compliance, and add flexibility to your life as a small business owner.
What services do registered agents provide?
Primarily, registered agents make themselves available during business hours to receive service of process and other vital documents. They then scan those documents and upload them so you can read them and take action as necessary.
Why do you need a registered agent for your LLC?
You need a registered agent because you are required by state law to have one. They are beneficial for more than just legal compliance, though. A registered agent service ensures you never miss state or legal documents sent to your business.
Can a registered agent service serve in all 50 states?
Yes, many registered agent services offer agents in all 50 states. Some states refer to a registered agent as a service of process agent, resident agent, or statutory agent.
Why should I hire a registered agent service?
You should hire a registered agent service to ensure your business remains legally compliant and to make certain you don’t miss important state or legal communications.