If you are going to do business, you need a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or business entity that accepts legal documents and other official communications on behalf of your business. Every state wants you to have a registered agent, which is why having one is a necessary part of doing business.
While you can serve as your own registered agent, there are advantages to having a service take over this job for you.
In this article, we will cover the various reasons why most businesses choose to hire a national registered agent service provider over doing it themselves.
Why You Need a Registered Agent Service
There are multiple benefits to having a quality registered agent service working for your business. Hiring a service to always be available to receive important documents and communications ensures you are compliant with the law. It also provides privacy, flexibility, and peace of mind.
Before we go into the benefits of hiring a registered agent service, let’s clarify what we are discussing.
What is a Registered Agent Service?
A registered agent service refers to a company that offers to be your registered agent in the state of your choice. States expect businesses to have a registered agent available at a physical address during normal business hours to receive important documents. For a fee, registered agent services will have someone service the role of registered agent for your business.
These services typically offer extras like scanning received documents and emailing them to you. That way, you get all the documents that the service receives and you get them quickly so you can take appropriate action.
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.
See how Northwest Registered Agent compares to other registered agent services in StateRequirement’s Best LLC Services review.
Benefits of Using a Registered Agent Service
Let’s go more in-depth on the benefits of hiring a registered agent service:
State law requires your business to have a registered agent. By hiring a registered agent service, you make sure that you meet your state’s requirements. And because you have an agent accepting legal documents and forwarding those documents, you are less likely to miss something important such as a service of process.
If your business is involved in a lawsuit – which happens to businesses, even when they do nothing wrong or illegal – your registered agent service will let you know immediately.
The registered agent service you use will maintain an address on the public record so it’s easy to find and send documents to. Having the service provider’s address readily available helps keep your personal address from prying eyes – which is especially important if you work out of your home. You are less likely to get unwanted solicitations at your home address. If you do get served as part of a lawsuit, it will be your registered agent who gets served.
Your registered agent needs to be available in person during normal business hours. If you are your own registered agent, that means you must try to be at your business address Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, every week. You would probably rather be focusing on running your business or enjoying your free time instead of waiting for the mail.
Hiring a registered agent service makes it possible to do business in other states. You can’t be in two states at once, so if you want to do business in two or more states, hiring a registered agent service is a must.
Peace of Mind
A registered agent service takes one big job off of your list of things to do. You know that you have a professional service handling the most important legal and business documents you might get. There will always be someone there so you won’t miss anything.
How to Choose a Registered Agent Service
There are some key factors that you should keep in mind when choosing a registered agent service. These include:
- Same-day local scanning of documents. The best services will ensure that important legal documents, such as a service of process, are scanned and sent to you the same day they are received.
- Mail forwarding. You are likely to receive more than just court documents and state documents at your registered agent’s address. Choose a service that will forward other business mail.
- Privacy. Go for a service that guarantees never to sell your data.
- Annual report compliance reminders. Some service providers will notify you when it’s time to file your annual state report and will even file it for you.
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 Services
Our preferred registered agent service is:
Northwest Registered Agent
After careful review, we have determined that Northwest offers the best combination of quality, services, and price for registered agent service. It is more expensive than some of the other offerings out there, but for that price, you get a streamlined user experience and the best customer service and privacy protection available.
Northwest offers all of the important features we listed above, including same-day scanning and mail forwarding. It also offers privacy controls by default, assuming that you don’t want your data shared with others.
The online platform you use with Northwest is excellent, ensuring that all your scanned documents are available quickly and easily on office and mobile devices.
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.
Should I Use a Registered Agent Service FAQ
Who can be a registered agent?
Anyone can be a registered agent. That person just has to be available on weekdays during normal business hours. These availability requirements are important because they ensure that someone is there to receive vital documents – particularly, service of process documents in the event of a lawsuit. Availability during normal business hours is one of the main requirements for a registered agent. The other is being located within the state. The agent needs to have a physical address in the state where the business is operating.
Can I be my own registered agent?
This is probably the most commonly asked question by entrepreneurs, especially those forming their first LLC. New business owners want to save money and are ready to do whatever they can to succeed, including serving as their own registered agent. The short answer is, yes, you can be your own registered agent. You just need to be 18 or older, available during normal business hours, and have a physical address in the state you are operating your business in. You could also make your friend or family member your registered agent. However, for most small businesses, it is more than worth the yearly fee to hire a registered agent service. It is more expensive than doing it yourself, but using a service frees you to work on growing your business. It also helps you avoid any legal trouble from missing or misplacing important legal documents. We think these benefits can actually save you money over time. For more in-depth detail on serving as your own registered agent, check out our Can I Be My Own Registered Agent page.
How much does an LLC registered agent cost?
Registered agent service can cost anywhere between $50 and $300 a year. Some LLC formation services offer a free year of registered agent service. The cost can seem unnecessary, but once you realize the benefits the cost becomes more reasonable.
How much does it cost to change my registered agent?
Depending on the state you are doing business in, it can cost anywhere between $0 and $50 per state to change your registered agent.
What is a statutory agent?
“Statutory agent” is another name for registered agent. A few states refer to registered agents using different terms, including statutory agent, resident agent, and service of process agents.
What is a resident agent?
“Resident agent” is another name for registered agent. A few states refer to registered agents using different terms, including statutory agent, resident agent, and service of process agents.
What is a service of process agent?
“Service of process agent” is another name for registered agent. A few states refer to registered agents using different terms, including statutory agent, resident agent, and service of process agents.
What is a commercial vs. non-commercial registered agent?
Some states refer to professional registered agent services as commercial registered agents. They refer to individual agents as non-commercial registered agents.