Best Registered Agent Services of 2021
You should carefully consider who you choose for the registered agent position. Registered agent is a position of trust which is responsible for your business compliance with the state. If the registered agent do not perform their role properly, your business may be shut down or fined.
Starting a business is a big step with a ton of requirements. Before you consider filing papers with the Secretary of State, you must designate a registered agent. This person or company will play a key role in certain events. We will explain who the agent for your business can be, and what role they perform.
If you didn’t form an LLC yet, InFile is offering a free registered agent for one year once you form your LLC or corporation via their service. The free registered agent service is included even in their free basic Silver package.
If you already started your company and you only need a registered agent service, we recommend North West Registered Agent.
What is a registered agent?
A registered agent is a person or service that acts as your representative with the state of filing by maintaining compliance with all state regulations and license requirements.
This should be a person or agency who is organized, and that you can trust to handle legal documents. This person or agency is the name on the public record and is the designee with whom the state will communicate with regarding legal and regulatory matters.
Top 4 registered agent services
- Best registered agent LLC value package- IncFile
- Best for multiple-states registered agent – Northwest Registered Agent
- Best customer support and overall LLC package – ZenBusiness
- Fastest LLC filing times – SwyftFilings
BEST FOR: Value for money
Pros & Cons
You can register your LLC or corporation with IncFile for free (+State fees) using InFile filing service and receive a free registered agent service for the first year. The free package will not cover all the essentials for your business but it includes preparing & filing the Articles of Organization, unlimited name searches and free Registered Agent service for a year. The yearly renewal cost of the registered agent service with incile is $119.
BEST FOR: multiple-states registered agent
BEST FOR: Customer support
As the name suggests, there’s no need to ruin your Zen under the weight of legal jargon – ZenBusiness is one of the most reliable Registered Agent services in California, with thousands of positive reviews and high ratings.
ZenBusiness is our top pick for a variety of great reasons, from their automated workflow system, expert advice, and simple, no-nonsense web interface. They even package the whole LLC process into a single product, making your experience smooth, fast, and worry-free.
With Zen Business, you also get a virtual dashboard, so you have 100% visibility of the forms and documents of your company. You can go through them, download them, and even print them to have a personal copy for any business or legal reasons.
Pros & Cons
You can use Northwest Registered Agent as your designated Registered Agent service. You can easily assign it to multiple states and if you use the service to incorporate your business then you can also take advantage of access to online scan docs and a very intuitive online dashboard.
Why do I need a registered agent?
It’s required by law for each LLC or corporation to designate a registered agent. You cannot apply to be an LLC without appointing one and it’s one of the first things on the application paperwork. This person or service must have a physical address where a person can receive and sign for business documents during normal business hours of 9-5. A PO Box is not allowed.
This physical address is also called your registered office and is where your business is also notified of annual renewals, and licensing requirement. You mail have a mailing address of a PO Box, but this is different from your registered office.
Information is the key. The state will inform you of any requirements related to your business, as well as serve you papers if you receive a court summons, subpoena, or other legal documents. If someone is not available to sign for these documents at the address, you might be in contempt.
Therefore, if you do not have a physical address that someone is always at, appointing a service to act on your behalf gives you some freedom to work wherever you like. Your business could be located in Florida and you spend half the year in Maine. Having a registered agent in Florida ensures that you don’t miss important information. If you operate in several states and have filed foreign and domestic LLC papers, a service can keep track of multiple filings.
Who can be my registered agent?
1. You can be your own registered agent
The easiest option is to appoint yourself as your own registered agent. If you generally work at home, at an office, or have a storefront, you can use your business location as your registered office. If you are a sole business owner, it is not difficult to keep track of your filing dates. The Secretary of State often sends an email notification of requirements well before they are due, and you may be able file online.
Also, if you are sued, the summons will come to the physical address, and you will need to sign for it. Being your own registered agent costs nothing and you are in full control of your business dealings. A disadvantage of this method is that your name is on public record as the business owner and registered agent, so you might receive unwanted solicitations. Moreover, you could miss important mail that could create a liability for your business.
2. You can appoint a friend, family member or a partner
The second option is choosing a friend of family member or a partner in your business. In fact, you can choose just about anyone who has a physical address and can sign for papers delivered for your business. Again, make sure this is a person you can trust to communicate with you.
3. You can hire a third-party Service
The third option is to hire a service that specializes in performing the registered agent functions. They will charge a fee (Average $100 – $200 /year) , but they will receive documents at their office and communicate requirements to you.
There are some advantages and disadvantages to using a Registered agent service.
Advantages of using a registered agent service
- Piece of mind of knowing that a professional service is always available to c are for this side of the business.
- Keep your privacy – the agency is listed on the state documents and website rather than your name.
- Freedom to work where you like. If you do not live in the state where your business is registered, the service can perform all of the required duties.
- Concentrate on building your business, rather than keeping track of paperwork and legal requirements.
- If you are registered in more than one state, one service can keep track of all requirements.
Changing registered agent
Keep in mind that you may change your Registered Agent at any time. If you start out with yourself as the agent, and your business plan changes or you decide that you want to delegate the responsibility, a simple filing (and fee) with the Secretary of State will update that information. If you choose a third-party service, check their agreements and see when you can change. Often third-party services charge a year in advance to be your representative and automatically renew the contract unless you notify them well before the renewal date.
All in all, the main job of a registered agent service is to keep your business compliant with the state by handling all legal and tax correspondence and documents on your business’ behalf so that you don’t miss any deadlines or important notifications.
Another big advantage of using a registered agent service is to protect your personal information from public record and keep you anonymous by serving as the official address for your business that is separate from your private home. The will also set you up with an online business account where all process server and state documents received for your business will be scanned and uploaded onto your personal dashboard where you can access, and retrieve any information whenever you like.
Sure, you can decide to act as your own registered agent of your business, but this means that you will need to be on top of all state correspondence, deadlines, and legal proceedings as well as be physically available at your office address during working hours. This can also become complicated if your business operates in multiple states as you will need to assign a registered agent to each state.
Using a trusted, affordable, and reliable registered agent service will allow you to focus on what’s most important – running, growing, and managing your own business, instead of worrying about managing paperwork, legal documents, and remaining in good standing with the state.