When it comes to choosing a registered agent service, you need to do your homework.
The registered agent service you choose can make or break your situation in the event of a dispute.
So before you make a decision, take an assessment of what the needs will be for your business in the event of litigation or bankruptcy, and choose a registered agent service online that suits those needs best!
What is a Registered Agent for LLC?
A registered agent is an individual or organization that agrees to accept legal correspondence on a company’s behalf if the company is issued, files bankruptcy, or needs to file annual reports.
Registered agents are also responsible for communicating with state agencies to keep business licenses active and current.
What are the duties of a Registered Agent?
The statute that created their” position is nebulous in terms of what they actually must do, but generally, their responsibilities include:
- Receiving and processing service (legal correspondence) for the company
- Communicating with government agencies to keep state licenses active.
This type of registered agent LLC service provides a legal address to receive all official legal processes and communications (like court summons, subpoenas, etc.).
Services certified registered agents would provide to your business:
- A registered address for your business
- Advanced notice of lawsuits or court actions brought against you and your company
- The ability to communicate with government agencies on your behalf to keep your business license current
- The ability to communicate with government agencies on your behalf to resolve legal issues that may arise
Register agents will accept legal documents (like subpoenas, summonses, etc.) sent to the company’s registered agent “service address,” but they do not have to respond to that correspondence.
Registered agents are not responsible for monitoring your business’s operations or performing any work on behalf of the company.
- Filing and maintenance of business paperwork, including the Articles of Incorporation
- Tax documents, like sales tax registrations and annual reports.
- Reporting a new business or LLC name change to state agencies
- Receiving and processing service (legal correspondence) for the company.
Factors to Be Considered While Selecting A Registered Agent Service
Before selecting a registered agent service, you must do your homework.
A registered agent can make or break your situation in the event of litigation or bankruptcy.
- The location of the agent’s office matters because if there is an issue about who is legally responsible for the company, it’s good to have a registered agent who is within the jurisdiction of that state.
- You should make sure your registered agent accepts legal papers by mail and responds appropriately. Some companies accept legal documents but never reply or communicate with the sender, and these agents may come back to haunt you if there’s a legal dispute.
- Your registered agent will need to accept legal papers that are delivered by hand at their office, so if you don’t want someone knocking on your door all the time, you’ll have to choose a registered agent service that can only be reached via mail or email (or ideally both).
- If your company is located in a state with several different tax agencies, you will need to ensure your registered agent service can help with each of them.
- Your registered agent should be familiar with the requirements for LLCs filing annual reports and how they differ from corporations or partnerships. The last thing you want is to miss an important filing deadline (or pay fines).
Make sure your registered agent can file your paperwork and keep everything up to date.
If you hire a registered agent who handles annual reports but does not submit them on time, expect fines from the government for failing to comply with legal requirements.
Companies with poor customer service ratings are best avoided because if they make mistakes handling your paperwork, you will have little recourse if they refuse to help.
How to Become a Registered Agent in California
To become a registered agent in California, you will need:
- Please fill out the application form online on their official website or print it manually and send it to post. It should take around 15 days for processing after getting all the required business documents.
- Pay the non-refundable application fee of $50.
Can You be The Registered Agent for Your Own LLC?
Yes, you can. It’s not the most convenient option, but it could be a good idea in certain cases.
For example, if you already have an LLC and would like to register it with your home address as its registered office.
In that case, since the LLC will remain under your control (and not some random company), there is no need to worry about the registered agent deciding one day that they no longer want to be responsible for your LLC, or worse still – shut down.
Even if you end up selling or transferring ownership of your business, later on, there’s no reason why you can’t continue acting as a registered agent for your own company at the same time.
It’s a good idea to still use an established registered agent service, though, just in case you ever need them.
In that scenario, it can be more convenient to work with pros who can handle everything for you and make sure your info is filed correctly.
Cost of Registered Agent Services
The cost of registered agent services varies depending on your state and the company you choose.
In California, for example, you can expect to pay between $40-$60 per year of registered agent service.
It’s always a good idea to look around before you commit to anyone service, though, just in case there is a better deal available somewhere else.
Is There a Free Registered Agent Service?
Yes, there are a few registered agent companies that offer free business services – but like most things in life – you get what you pay for.
These companies often have abysmal customer service records and may not fully comply with your state’s legal requirements.
To make sure your business is properly represented, it’s always better to work with an established registered agent familiar with your state and the legal requirements for your business type.
The Pros and Cons of a Registered Agent
There are so many options available for registered agents, but which one should you choose? In this section, I’ll go over the pros and cons of using a registered agent.
- Your registered agent will make sure you are legally compliant. They will file all the necessary paperwork with your state and pay any associated state fees (which can be quite expensive if you’re not in compliance).
- If your registered agent ever goes out of business or becomes unresponsive for some reason, it doesn’t mean that your LLC is automatically shut down. With an established registered agent service, you can be sure that your LLC is always properly registered.
- If you decide to sell or transfer ownership of your business, later on, it’s still possible for the new owner to use the same registered agent service if they prefer.
- Registered agents charge a lot of money for their services – especially if you only need to use them for a short period of time (e.g., the life of your LLC).
- If you’ve never used a registered agent service before, it can be confusing to figure out which one to go with and how much they charge.
- It’s an added expense that you don’t need right now.
What to look for in a registered agent service
Find out if other business owners in your state have used the registered agent you are considering and what their experience was like.
Always look around for a cheaper option
III. Customer service/support
You should easily reach someone by phone or email if you ever need to ask questions or change your address.
Common registered agent definitions
I. Registered Agent
A person or company authorized to accept legal service and process on behalf of a business entity (like an LLC).
II. Resident Agent
A registered agent that primarily acts as the representative for a state’s LLCs.
They are usually responsible for filing all paperwork and maintaining compliance with your state.
III. Processing fees
Fees that must be paid when an LLC registers (or renews its registration) or is replaced.
IV. Qualified Agent
Any person licensed to practice law, a bank trust department, a credit union, an insurance company qualified to do business in the state of formation’s jurisdiction, a public accountant who maintains a license in good standing, or a person licensed as a registered agent.
V. International Agent
An international registered agent provides services to businesses operating in multiple states (also known as multistate LLCs).
VI. Resident Agent Services
A general term for the service provided by an LLC’s resident agent.
This can include filing and maintaining required paperwork and paying any associated fees.
What kind of registered agent service do you need?
There are three different types of registered agents; each one specializes in a certain business model:
- General Agent
- Special Purpose Agent
A general agent (also known as a corporate agent) is an LLC representative who can be appointed to act on behalf of the company whenever it is not acting in the most narrow sense of the word.
A special-purpose agent (also known as a limited purpose agent) is an LLC’s representative who can only act on behalf of an LLC in narrow circumstances, such as at the time of its formation or when making major decisions regarding its dissolution.
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent offers both Long and Short Term registered agent services designed specifically for entrepreneurs (including Sole Proprietorships, DBA’s, LLC’s, etc.) who don’t yet know how long their business will last.
This means that you can use a flexible plan to provide your company with continuous protection over as many years as it takes to figure out what the future holds.
- Their flexible plans are based on individual needs and can accommodate any budget or degree of risk that you’re comfortable with. So if your business lasts just a month, then the plan costs very little – but if it ends up lasting for years, then it will cost more, but you’ll have more registered agent services included as a result.
- Plus, the number of registered agent services included in each plan is more than enough for most businesses. If you find yourself needing even more services, they also offer additional agents for an extra cost as well.
Services provided by Northwest Registered Agent include:
- Business Registered Address at your business location (some states require this)
- Processing fees for registering or renewing the Business as an LLC, Corporation, Partnership, or Sole Proprietor.
- Mail forwarding and/or Email forwarding of all-important mail to your own personal email address (like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail). Be sure and sign up for the free spam filters that come with this service!
- The ability to have your business email be delivered as if it were an individual’s name ([email protected]) instead of a generic company address like [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected], etc…
- The ability to have your business phone answered with a personal greeting and forwarding the calls as you choose or having that forwarded to an email address.
There are no hidden fees or setup charges with Northwest Registered Agent.
Business formation service is $125 and includes the basic registered agent services above; this covers as many years as you need.
There is an additional charge of $75 for each additional agent.
LLC Formation Packages offered:
Business Formation and 6 months Registered Agent service for $125 (1 year total)
Business formation, 2 years of registered agent services, and a Virtual Office at $375 (3 years total)
The Mid-Term plan with an additional 3 years of registered agent services plus a monthly newsletter for $425 (5 years total)
- Certified Copy of your LLC formation service documents for $25 (Provided by the State, not agent)
- Registered Agent Forwarding of all-important mail at $15 per month. This plan is only available with any of the yearly or multi-year plans listed above. It includes a deduplicating service that will prevent your business name from being forwarded to you if the letter was sent to our office by mistake.
ZenBusiness is a leader in cheap registered agent services, and when you order your registered agent service from them, they will give you an extra $30 discount on the total cost!
- The average cost of a business registered address with ZenBusiness is just $60 per year ($5 per month) for their basic plan.
- If you order your registered agent service from them and use code FB30, you will get a $30 discount off their already low prices. This means that for the average cost of just $30 per year (just $2.50 per month), you can have all of these valuable services: up to 2 registered agents, 1 mailbox within your business name, and a fax line (increasing to 4 registered agents costs $10 extra per month).
Advantages and Disadvantages of ZenBusiness Services:
- Since ZenBusiness is an affordable registered agent service, they have over 1,000 business clients.
- Their customer service is excellent, and they are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have regarding your business or the services they provide.
- They also do not charge additional fees as some other registered agents do.
- There are other discounts that you can take advantage of when you order a registered agent service from ZenBusiness, and they offer a 30-day risk-free guarantee ( this means if you are unhappy with their services or anything else for your first 30 days after signing up, then ZenBusiness will give your money back).
- You have unlimited access to all the forms that come with your service so that you can provide them to ZenBusiness, and they will mail them to you.
- You do not have to worry about any upsells either when ordering from ZenBusiness since they are committed to ensuring that your experience with them is a positive one.
- Some people may not like the idea of using a business address in Virginia for their businesses because it is on the other side of the country from them.
- Some people also do not like that ZenBusiness requires you to send an email with your order information. They even require you to provide them with a phone number, which can be frustrating if you try to order as quickly as possible.
- The only other disadvantage that comes with ZenBusiness is that they do not offer a bulk discount like some of the other registered agent services available.
Incfile.com is a leader in cheap registered agent services, and when you order your registered agent service from them, they will give you an extra $30 discount as well.
- The average cost of a business registered address with Incfile.com is just $80 per year ($7 per month) for their basic plan.
- If you order your registered agent service from them and use code FB30, you will get a $30 discount off their already low prices. This means that for the average cost of just $50 per year (just $4 per month), you can have all of these valuable services: up to 3 registered agents, 1 mailbox within your business name, and a fax line (increasing to 5 registered agents costs $10 extra per month).
Incfile Registered Agent Services Include:
- A business address in the state of incorporation
- 24/7 customer service and technical support
- Business mailing address (with labels)
- Unlimited registered agent services for 1 year with up to 5 agents included in the package.
This includes unlimited registered agent services, 1 mailbox within your business name, and a fax line. If you would like more than this, then it costs $10 extra per month.
Rocket Lawyer is an online legal services provider that provides easy-to-use and affordable registered agent services.
The average cost for their basic registered agent service is just $60 per year (or $5 per month).
This includes two registered agents, 10 hours of live customer support, and a business address in Delaware.
- If you would like more than this, then the price for their premium registered agent service is $90 per year (or $8 per month). The only difference between the basic and premium plan is that you get unlimited registered agents with the premium service.
- If you are a new customer, then Rocket Lawyer will give you an extra $10 discount for your first order. This means that you can get their basic registered agent service for just $50 per year (just $4.16 per month) instead of the regular price of $60.
- If you are not completely satisfied with their services, Rocket Lawyer will refund your money. To take advantage of this offer, all you have to do is call them within 30 days of placing your order. They will then cancel your account and refund you.
LegalZoom provides registered agent services with their business incorporation packages.
- The product they offer is very affordable, costing just $65 per year (or $5.83 per month). This includes a business address in Nevada and up to two registered agents.
- If you are not completely happy with their services, LegalZoom will refund your money about 30 days after placing your order. This can be a great option for a business owner who does not want to spend much money on the registered agent service.
However, to take advantage of their guarantee, all you have to do is call them within 30 days, and they will cancel your services so that you don’t pay for them anymore.
How to Find the Best Registered Agent Services for You
Finding the right registered agent service provider for your needs can be significant if you are a business owner.
This is because it can make a big difference as to whether or not you will run your business with ease.
Tips for finding the best registered agent service:
- First of all, you will need to determine what kind of service you need.
- Then, once you have made this decision, you will want to learn about the quality and price of the different registered agent services available through your state’s Division of Corporations or Secretary of State.
- If you’re not sure where to start looking at low-cost registered agent services for your business, then you should check out the online registered agent service providers that are available at Corporations.ca.
Can I Form an LLC or Corporation Without a Registered Agent?
Yes, you can form an LLC or corporation without a registered agent.
However, it is recommended that you have one for your business to run it with ease.
When you incorporate your business without a registered agent, it means that the responsibilities of being a registered agent will be put onto another person such as yourself.
This can be a problem because you will have to fulfill this duty whenever your company is needed.
For example, if the state needs to communicate something with your business, then they will do it via personal contact in most cases.
Can I Change My Registered Agent After I Form My Company?
One of the best-registered agent services is also very helpful for business owners because you can change your registered agent after forming your company.
This means that eventually, you can replace your current registered agent with a new one to give yourself more options and improve upon the quality of service you are receiving.
For example, if you have a registered agent that is very expensive, then you can change them out for another one at a lower price point.
This will allow your company to save money while still having the same level of service from your new provider.
Will a Registered Agent Help With Ongoing LLC Compliance Requirements?
Yes, a registered agent can help you with LLC compliance requirements.
In fact, the registered agent is responsible for mailing out your company’s reports and statements to the government on your behalf.
For example, if you need to file an annual report to maintain your business license, it will be mailed via the mail by your registered agent.
The same thing also goes for any correspondence that is sent to your business.
Should I Hire an Attorney or Accountant to Be My Registered Agent?
Many business owners choose to hire an attorney or accountant to handle their registered agent duties.
This can make sense for a couple of reasons, including:
- Attorney and Accountants are professional service providers that will be able to ensure that your company complies with all state laws;
- Professional service providers have access to software systems that have been created specifically for registered agents to handle their duties.
Choosing the right registered agent can be very important so that you can run your business effectively.
There are many different registered agent services available, and each one of them offers something a little bit different than the next.
Some may offer better prices while others will provide more or less customer support.
It is up to you to determine what kind of value your business is getting with each one.
Just be sure that you are fully aware of exactly what ices include and how much they cost before deciding which registered agent service provider to go with.