Whether you’re starting a new LLC or updating the registered agent for your existing business, it’s important to choose the best Pennsylvania registered agent for your needs.
This article will help you to choose the registered agent that best fits your business, go over the basic functions of registered agents, and answer common questions about registered agents.
If you haven’t yet formed your LLC, you can get one year of registered agent services for free if you form your LLC with Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + state fees). (This is a great deal!).
A Pennsylvania registered agent is an individual or business entity that is appointed by a Pennsylvania LLC or corporation to receive tax and legal documents such as service of process, government correspondence, and compliance documents on behalf of the business.
Best Pennsylvania Registered Agent Service
When choosing a registered agent service, you want someone who understands the importance of staying compliant and being diligent about legal processes and paperwork. That’s why Northwest Registered Agent is our #1 registered agent service choice for Pennsylvania businesses.
Recommended Registered Agent Service
Northwest Registered Agent is our #1 overall pick for registered agent services. Their cost is $125/year – or get a year of service free when you form your LLC with them ($29 + state fees).
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent, which offers everything that you need to form your LLC along with Registered Agent services. The company boasts over 20 years of operations helping small businesses start or grow.
Northwest has a 100% Error-Free Guarantee with outstanding customer support, exceptional services, and high prices to match. If data privacy and access to customer support are top on your list, the extra costs of working with Northwest Registered Agent may be well worth it for you and your business.
See how Northwest Registered Agent compares to other registered agent services in StateRequirement’s Best Registered Agent Services review.
What Does a Pennsylvania Registered Agent Do?
A registered agent does a few things for a company. Their main task is to be present when or if the company needs to receive tax or legal paperwork. These would be documents that can’t be sent to a mailbox or delivered to a front desk; rather, documents that must be handed directly to the person who represents the company.
A simple example would be a service of process, which is the delivery of legal documents in a lawsuit. These service documents must be delivered directly to the company’s representative – the registered agent – to ensure they are received.
This may seem like a small task, but the caveat that makes this a critical position is that the registered agent is required to be at the documented location to receive these papers during all “regular business hours.” This is the main reason that most people choose to use a registered agent service rather than operating as their own agent.
Other forms that your registered agent may receive on your behalf are:
- Tax forms
- Legal documents
- Official government correspondence
- Service of process
Another function of a registered agent is to file official documents with the state in which the LLC or corporation is established. In most states, businesses are required to file an annual report once per year to keep the business in “good standing” with the state.
Learn more about why your business needs a registered agent.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Pennsylvania?
The short answer is yes, you can be your own registered agent.
Whether or not that’s the best plan for you or your company is another question entirely. If you are looking to spend the absolute, bare minimum amount of money on your business, then being your own registered agent may not be a terrible choice. Still, even in that scenario, we don’t recommend it.
Benefits of Using a Registered Agent Service
There are only a few realistic options when it comes to whom you file as your registered agent:
- An attorney
- A registered agent service
As mentioned above, being your own agent has pitfalls and isn’t recommended. What’s more, an attorney in this position would be quite expensive and is generally only a viable option if you had them form your business for you.
So, that leaves you with the option of using a service. Here are the biggest benefits of using a professional registered agent service:
When you form an LLC or corporation, your formation data goes into a state database which is open and searchable to the public. The information in this database can include:
- Business name
- Formation date
- Registered agent name
- Registered agent address
While you can’t stop the state from publishing this information, you can retain the privacy of your name and your address by using a registered agent service. Since this information is public, marketing companies use these databases to gather information to market their products and services to business owners. Your mailbox will thank you for keeping your business address private.
Another major privacy benefit is having legal documents delivered to your agent and not you personally. If, for some reason, someone brings a lawsuit against your company, would you rather have your agent call you with these documents or have them served to you in front of your customers, clients, or employees?
Along with privacy, another of the main benefits of using a registered agent service is that they will help to keep your business in “good standing” with the state.
Some states require LLCs and corporations to file annual reports or other timely documents. While these generally aren’t difficult tasks, they are often easily forgotten or lost in the day-to-day work that your business hands you.
Your registered agent will send you reminders that this work needs to be completed, and some will even provide you with the proper documents to make your work even easier.
How Do I Elect a Registered Office in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania LLCs are required to have a registered office, and you’ll need to identify an office when you first form your Pennsylvania LLC. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not record registered agents. Pennsylvania allows you to use either an initial registered office (noncommercial) or a commercial registered office provider (commercial). Your chosen office will function as the official contact for your LLC.
Should you use an initial registered office, the person at that address should be able to accept official mailings. These could include tax notices, services of process, and other documents, and some may require a signature upon delivery. A street address somewhere in the state is also required.
Should you use a commercial registered office provider (CROP), you must enter into a contract before listing them. Listing without a contract can result in civil and/or criminal penalties.
Once you have a registered office in place, you can file a Certificate of Organization for your LLC. You’ll identify your chosen registered office provider when filing this certificate. An LLC formation service can take care of all this for you, or you can go through the contracting and filing process yourself. Should you choose the self-serve option, you can file online or by mail:
- To file online, create an account on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Business One-Stop Hub online filing system. You must file your LLC forms with the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations (Corporations Division) using PENN File. You’ll have to provide the registered office information in the third section, which is “Business Details.” You’ll need the registered office’s address if using an initial registered office, or the name if using a CROP. Complete the rest of the certificate, and pay the $125 Pennsylvania LLC filing fee when you submit it.
- To file by mail, simply download the Certificate of Organization – Domestic Limited Liability Company (Form DSCB: 15-8821). Complete the form and provide the registered office information in Article 2. Fill out 2A if using an initial registered office, or 2B if using a CROP. Mail the form to the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations, at the address provided below. Make sure to include a check for the $125 LLC fee.
How Do I Change My LLC’s Registered Office in Pennsylvania?
If you want to change an initial or commercial registered office, you can do so by submitting a single form to the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations. This too can be done online or by mail.
File Change of Registered Office
Filing online is the simplest way to update your previous registered agent to a new one. Simply log in to your PA Business One-Stop Hub account, where you can access many different business documents. Navigate to the Change of Registered Office. Complete the form online, and submit it along with a credit card payment. The fee for changing your LLC’s registered office is $5.
You can also change your registered agent status by mail. Download and complete the Change of Registered Office (Form DSCB: 15-1507/5507/8625/8825) from the Pennsylvania Department of State. Provide the current registered office in Article 2 and the new registered office in Article 3.
Complete the form and mail it to the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations using the mailing address below. The filing fee is $5.
If you choose to use or switch to a registered agent service, they should complete and file the changes for you. For more information about our recommended Registered Agent service for your LLC, check out our Northwest Registered Agent review.
Recommended Registered Agent Service
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent, which offers their Pennsylvania registered agent service free for one year along with your LLC formation.
Pennsylvania Department of State Contact Information
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
P.O. Box 8722
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8722
Pennsylvania Department of State
Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations
401 North Street
206 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00am – 4:45pm
Phone: (717) 787-1057
Pennsylvania Registered Agent FAQ
Who can be a Pennsylvania registered agent?
Anybody who meets the necessary requirements can act as your registered agent. These requirements include:
Must be at least 18 years old
Must have a physical street address in the state of Pennsylvania
Must be available during typical work hours (i.e., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday)
Is a statutory agent the same as a registered agent?
Yes. Some states refer to registered agents as statutory agents. Other names for registered agents include resident agent and agent for service of process.
Can I be my own registered agent?
While you can be your own registered agent, it comes with a lot of responsibility. This could take you away from the parts of your business that you enjoy the most. It can also be stressful trying to keep up with all compliance requirements, and your information will also be available on the public record.
Can I get a free registered agent?
Yes, as long as they meet all of the necessary requirements and follow the state’s guidelines. It can lead to trouble if you use someone that doesn’t follow all rules and regulations. Many LLC formation services offer free registered agent services with their packages for a certain amount of time.
Why do I need a registered agent?
All states require that LLCs have a registered agent. Businesses need registered agents because there needs to be a point of contact for every business, for legal processes, communication, and staying in compliance. Check out StateRequirement’s guide on why you need an LLC registered agent.
How do I choose a registered agent?
The best registered agent or service will be responsible, helpful, and honest. They should have a track record of being on time and working with other influential businesses.
How much does a registered agent service cost?
A registered agent service can cost as low as $99/year for some services, but others may charge considerably more depending on what services they offer.