Registered Agent Service
Do Business the Right Way
Business entities like LLCs and corporations are required to appoint a registered agent when they form—and to have a local registered agent in every state where they transact business. This requirement for a registered agent or registered agent service came about as an aspect of due process. Due process states that before a lawsuit or other legal action can move forward in the courts, all parties must be properly notified. The most basic function of a registered agent is to ensure your business is properly notified when involved in a lawsuit.
At Northwest, our registered agent service also provides much more. Free mail forwarding, expert Corporate Guides® and Privacy by Default®—that’s us doing business the right way.
Hire A Registered Agent Or Be Your Own?
It’s true that in all states, you can be your own business’s registered agent. But do you want to be? Being a registered agent means being available at your business’s location during normal business hours, five days a week, something most new business owners have trouble doing since they’re busy starting their business. Being a registered agent also means being responsible for tax forms and tracking annual report dates with the state, things that can easily be forgotten and cost you in the long run. The one upside to not hiring a registered agent is you’ll save the annual fee. But the freedom you gain from hiring one often makes up for the expenditure.
Registered Agent FAQ
What is a registered agent?
A registered agent is a person or company designated to receive service of process and official mail on behalf of a business. Registered agents are also known as statutory agents, resident agents, and agents for service of process.
Each state requires registered business entities (such as corporations, LLCs and LPs) to appoint a registered agent on their formation documents. These formation documents (often called “articles of organization” or “articles of incorporation”) are filed with the state. The information listed in the formation documents becomes public record.
What is service of process?
Service of process is the delivery of a legal notice (such as a summons or subpoena) to an individual or a business. These legal notices require a timely response and specific action from the recipient—such as producing documents, ceasing an activity, or appearing in court.
When the recipient is a business entity, service of process goes to the company’s designated registered agent. For example, when a business is on the receiving end of a lawsuit, a process server will deliver a summons to the company’s registered agent.
What is a statutory agent?
“Statutory agent” is another name for registered agent. Other names include “resident agent,” “agent for service of process,” and more. Why so many names for the same job? Each state has their own statutes—and often their own terminology—for business entities. Here are the terms most commonly used in each state:
- Statutory agent: Arizona and Ohio
- Resident agent: Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Rhode Island
- Agent for service of process: California, Louisiana, New York, and West Virginia
- Commercial clerk: Maine (for domestic corporations)
- Registered office provider: Pennsylvania
- Registered agent: The majority of states and DC
Can I use my registered agent as my business address?
Yes! Registered agent services provide their address on your public documents, helping keep yours private.
Do I need a registered agent?
Yes. Not only are registered agents nearly always required by state statutes, but they provide a systematic way to ensure a business can reliably receive official and legal notices.
Who can be a registered agent?
State statutes generally require that registered agents meet the following requirements:
- Office: Registered agents must have a physical address in the state where they can receive and accept service of process. This is often referred to as their “registered office.”
- Residency: Typically, registered agents must either reside in the state where they serve as a registered agent, or they must be a business approved to provide registered agent service in the state. Businesses providing registered agent service must maintain a physical address in the state.
- Availability: Registered agents must be available to accept legal documents and official mail during normal business hours.
- Consent: Agents must consent to being designated a registered agent. In many states, registered agents need to provide a signature proving they have accepted the responsibility. For example, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington and Wyoming all require registered agent signatures on your formation documents.
Can I be my own registered agent?
Any individual or business that meets a state’s registered agent requirements can be a registered agent. Some states even allow a corporation or LLC to be its own registered agent.
However, be wary of appointing yourself simply to save a few dollars. Registered agents are charged with important responsibilities that can greatly impact your business. If you’re not regularly available to accept legal notices in person at the location listed on your public documents, you should not be your own registered agent.
Listing your own name and home address can mean giving up a chunk of your personal privacy—registered agent information becomes part of the public record.
Why hire a registered agent service?
A professional registered agent service centers its business around being available to accept your documents, freeing you up to focus on more important things. They have other benefits as well. Registered agent services provide their address on your public documents, helping keep yours private. A good service should also scan and send you your documents the same day, provide you with reminders for state compliance reports, and provide you with easy access to forms and services to help you maintain your business.
Below are common situations in which it would be beneficial to hire a registered agent service:
- You have locations in multiple states.
- You don’t have a physical address.
- You plan to change your address as you grow.
- You don’t want the world to know your home address.
- You don’t plan to be in the office Monday-Friday, 9-5.
- You want instant access to documents from wherever you are.
- You want electronic scans of your documents for safekeeping or backup.
- You want reminders for state compliance requirements.
- You want a little more peace of mind.
How do I choose a registered agent?
If you plan to hire a registered agent service, there are a few key factors to take into consideration. Ideally, a registered agent service should provide all of the following:
Consistent pricing: Some companies have low introductory prices but exorbitant increases for annual renewals. A quick look at online customer reviews usually reveals if this is an issue.
Electronic document delivery: For time-sensitive materials, you don’t want to wait for physical mail forwarding.
Same-day scans: Again, time is a critical factor, so your registered agent service should receive and scan documents right away.
Customer support: If you have a question or issue, you should be able to call and talk to a real person and get help.
Free resources: Your registered agent service should be able to provide you easy access to state forms and templates for essential documents, like operating agreements and meeting minutes. Many companies mark these up as expensive add-ons, so it’s good to check if these kinds of resources are offered for free.
Additional business services: While you may only be looking for registered agent service at the moment, you never know when you’ll need additional services down the road. It’s a good idea to find a provider that offers additional useful business services such as mail forwarding, virtual office, annual report compliance and business formation.
How do I change my registered agent?
You can change your LLC or corporation’s registered agent by filing paperwork with the state. Depending on your state, you may need to file a change of agent form, an amendment, or an updated annual/biennial report. Our guide on how to change your registered agent goes over processes, forms, and fees with links to step-by-step instructions for each state.
Top 9 Reasons People Use Our Registered Agent Services
- We’re the only national registered agent service that locally scans every document you receive.
- When we receive a document at our local registered agent service office, that’s where we scan it to your account.
- Locally scanning every document enhances both quality control and customer satisfaction.
- Northwest’s Corporate Guides® will help you navigate the odd world of state bureaucracy.
- Call and talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about.
- No automated operators. No reading from a script. No upsells. Just answers.
- We never sell your data. Ever. We don’t share your info with third-party marketers either.
- We list OUR business address on your public filings instead of yours—so you can better keep your personal info private.
- You don’t have to opt in or out to keep your data private. We practice Privacy by Default® with every service and every client, automatically.
- As your registered agent, we accept state and legal mail. But we’ll also scan normal business mail—up to 5 docs per year—FREE.
- Clients and investors sometimes try to contact a company via its registered agent. We won’t let these messages fall through the cracks.
- Avoid “per document” fees for state mail, legal mail and limited business mail.
- We’re not so big that clients are just a number.
- We’re not so small that we have to hire other registered agents to do our job.
- We’re the perfect size to offer both personalized and reliable service.
- Orders receive instant access to your account with all forms you’ll need to file with the state.
- All forms are pre-populated with our information for easy filing.
- Your account is filled with filing tips, annual report help, and business maintenance help.
- Enter your corporate data once, and the same data will populate every form you need to file.
- Receive annual report compliance instructions and reminders.
- Access online copies of all scanned items we’ve received on your behalf.
- Flat rates.
- No upsells.
- Registered agent service rates:
1 to 4 states = $125/year
5 or more states = $100/year
There are lots of companies providing registered agent service. None like us. We have no phone extensions, hidden fees, no gimmicks, and no sales staff using teleprompters to answer the phone. We give you free mail forwarding, protect your privacy, and offer unparalleled support—all without being annoying.