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Commercial Registered Agent 101

By: Drake Forester | Last Updated September 2, 2021

A commercial registered agent is a type of registered agent—a person or entity that accepts state and legal mail for your business. In some states, appointing a commercial registered agent may affect how you complete business formation papers. This article will explain everything you need to know about commercial registered agents—what they are, when you need one, how they differ from non-commercial agents, and more. So, let’s begin.

What Is A Commercial Registered Agent?

Commercial registered agents are registered agents that typically serve many clients and have additional state registration requirements. A commercial registered agent has filed a listing statement or registration with their state’s Secretary of State office. These filing or registration requirements are usually aimed at larger registered agent service providers.

For example, Delaware requires registered agents to file a statement if more than 50 entities appoint them. They must also maintain a Delaware business license. In addition, Nevada requires agents to file if they serve ten or more businesses. These requirements give the state more oversight for large providers, helping to ensure the businesses they serve receive legitimate, quality service.

What Is A Non-Commercial Registered Agent?

A non-commercial registered agent is simply an individual or entity that hasn’t registered as a commercial registered agent with the local Secretary of State.

Most individual and single-state registered agents will fall into this category. If you serve as your own registered agent, then you fall into this “non-commercial” category. Non-commercial registered agents typically represent a smaller number of businesses than commercial registered agents, who often serve entities in multiple states.

Commercial Registered Agent vs Non-Commercial Registered Agent

Non-commercial registered agents can work well for smaller companies that want to remain local. Plus, you or someone within your business could act as your own non-commercial agent. So, you wouldn’t need to hire a dedicated registered agent service.

Commercial registered agents, on the other hand, tend to have offices in several states and can be great for growing your business. Because a local agent is nearly always required for each state where you conduct business, hiring a commercial registered agent could make expanding smoother. Increased oversight can also give you peace of mind compared to appointing an inexperienced or busy owner, officer or friend. In addition, commercial agents are typically more established—meaning, they have years of experience and knowledge that you can benefit from.

Which States Recognize Commercial Registered Agents?

Currently, only sixteen states (including Washington DC) use the term “commercial registered agent” as a distinction from non-commercial registered agents:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Colorado
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Delaware
  5. Hawaii
  6. Idaho
  7. Indiana
  8. Maine
  1. Mississippi
  2. Montana
  3. Nevada
  4. North Dakota
  5. South Dakota
  6. Utah
  7. Washington state
  8. Wyoming

Although not all states distinguish between a commercial and non-commercial registered agent, a few have similar provisions. For example, California doesn’t use the term “commercial registered agent.” However, all domestic and foreign corporations that provide registered agent service must file a Registered Corporate Agent for Service Of Process Certificate ($30) with the California Secretary of State. Individuals are not required to file.

In addition, Pennsylvania doesn’t use the term registered agent at all. Instead, businesses must designate a registered office OR commercial registered office provider (CROP) to receive legal and state documents. Much like a commercial registered agent, CROPs must register with the state.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am using a commercial registered agent?

Not sure if you hired a commercial registered agent? Most Secretary of State websites provide a complete list of commercial registered agents within their jurisdiction. Additionally, if your state requires you to distinguish between commercial and noncommercial agents on formation paperwork, you may be able to find this information on your articles of organization or incorporation. Or, you can always ask your agent directly to confirm.

How can I become a commercial registered agent?

To become a commercial registered agent, you’ll need to file a Commercial Registered Agent Listing Statement (or your state’s equivalent) with the Secretary of State. The required information will vary among states. However, you’ll most likely need to include:

  • The individual or entity’s name
  • Street/mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Signature of the person filing

Most states require commercial registered agents to have a unique name. Meaning, it can’t be too similar to any commercial registered agents already registered with the state. You can search most Secretary of State websites to see if your desired name is available. If the name you want isn’t available, you may need to choose an alternate. This is also true for individuals—in which case, a DBA would be necessary.

How much does it cost to become a commercial registered agent?

Most states won’t charge a filing fee to register as a commercial registered agent. However, a few states require fees, and costs can range between $10 (Washington), $50 (Arkansas), $150 (Maine), and $1000 (North Dakota).

Do I need to list an address for my commercial registered agent?

Most states don’t require you to list a commercial registered agent’s address. The Secretary of State will already have it on file.

Non-commercial registered agents are always required to list an address on business filings.

Is Northwest Registered Agent considered a commercial registered agent?

Yes! With offices in all 50 states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, Northwest Registered Agent is a national, commercial registered agent service provider. And registered agent service is not simply an add-on or a side product for us. It’s at the core of everything we do—it’s in our name.

Looking to hire a commercial registered agent?

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