Whether you’re starting a new LLC or updating the registered agent for your existing business, it’s important to choose the best Washington 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 Washington registered agent is an individual or business entity that is appointed by a Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington?
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 Agent in Washington?
Washington State requires all businesses to have a registered agent. You must execute a registered agency filing when forming an LLC in this state.
Your registered agent needs to have a physical address in Washington, and they should be comfortable receiving notifications sent to the LLC. A secondary address for receiving mail is allowed. Notifications can include the process of service, tax, or other important documents.
You’ll choose a registered agent as part of filing your LLC’s Certificate of Formation. You can have an LLC formation service do this for you, or you can go about the process yourself. You’ll need your registered agent’s name and contact information, including a street (non-P.O. box) address. In Washington, you also have to explicitly obtain a signed document showing the registered agent’s consent.
Should you choose the self-service option, you can file the necessary certificate online or mail the certificate in:
- To file the certificate online, the Washington Corporations and Charities Filing System. The system is maintained by the Washington Secretary of State’s Corporations & Charities Division. You’ll have to create an account on the system before you can file a certificate, but all of the necessary forms are accessible once you have an account. When filing online, you must indicate that you received a consent form from your agent.The $200 Washington LLC filing fee must be paid when the form is being submitted online. This can be paid by credit card.
- To mail the certificate, download the Certificate of Formation – Limited Liability Company form from the Washington Secretary of State. The certificate can be completed, printed, and mailed. The registered agent must sign the form in the next subsection, indicating their consent. Mail the form to the Corporations and Charities Division. The new LLC filing fee is $180 when filing by mail, and there’s an optional $50 expedited processing fee.
How Can I Change My LLC’s Registered Agent in Washington?
Should you ever have to change your LLC’s registered agent, the process requires a brief form. The form can be submitted online or by mail:
- File a Statement of Change/Designation of Registered Agent The best way to change your registered agent is to file a Statement of Change/Designation of Registered Agent. You can do this either online via your LLC’s account on the Washington Corporations and Charities Filing System or by mailing the form to the Washington Secretary of State – Corporations and Charities Division.There is no fee for changing your LLC’s registered agent, regardless of whether making the change online or by mail. There’s a $50 optional fee, which you can pay to expedite the process.
- File Your Washington LLC Annual Report If you are within your filing period, another way to change your registered agent is with your annual report via the Washington Corporations and Charities Filing System or using the hard copy Washington LLC Annual Report form. The filing fee is $60 both online and by mail. Expedited service is available for an additional $50.
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 Washington registered agent service free for one year along with your LLC formation.
Washington Secretary of State Contact Information
Washington Secretary of State
Corporations & Charities Division
P.O. Box 40234
Olympia, WA 98504-0234
Washington Secretary of State
Corporations & Charities Division
801 Capitol Way S
Olympia, WA 98501-1226
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 4:00pm
Phone: (360) 725-0377
Washington Registered Agent FAQ
Who can be a Washington 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 Washington
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.