Updated by: Matt Horwitz on
Delaware LLC Registered Agent
How to form an LLC in Delaware
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Delaware.
Delaware LLC costs:
LLC formation cost: $90 (one-time fee)
Annual franchise tax: $300 (every year)
(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)
A Registered Agent in Delaware is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your LLC in case your business gets sued.
In most states, a Registered Agent will also serve as a general point of contact for receiving business and tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents.
Your Registered Agent must have a street address located in Delaware. PO Boxes are not allowed to be used.
Your Delaware Registered Agent must also be available during normal business hours (9am – 5pm) in case Service of Process arrives. Service of Process includes delivery of documents such as complaints, summons, and/or subpoenas (and they may need to be signed for).
Having a Delaware Registered Agent ensures that the court and legal systems function properly. If someone wants to sue your LLC, they need to legally notify you and have proof that you’ve been served. When a process server (the person who delivers legal documents) serves your Delaware Registered Agent, they are then able to produce a “Proof of Service”, give that back to the plaintiff, and then that document is used in court to prove that you have received notice of the proceedings.
Can I be my own Registered Agent in Delaware?
You can be your own Delaware Registered Agent, as long as you meet the requirements mentioned in the next section.
However, you actually have 4 options when forming an LLC in Delaware:
Option 1: You can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Delaware (are there risks?)
Option 2: Your LLC can it be its own Registered Agent.
Option 3: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Option 4: You can hire a Delaware Registered Agent Service, technically known as a Commercial Registered Agent.
What’s the best Registered Agent option to choose?
• If you have a street address located in Delaware (such as a home or office address), and are available during business hours, you (or your LLC) can serve as the Delaware Registered Agent.
• If you don’t have a street address in Delaware, you can use a friend or family member’s address. They need to have a street address in Delaware and be available during business hours.
• If you don’t have a street address in Delaware, and you don’t have a friend or family member’s address that you can use (or prefer not to), you can hire a Delaware Registered Agent Service Company.
Note: The terms “Delaware Registered Agent Service” and “Delaware Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We will use them both interchangeably.
Delaware Registered Agent Service Companies specialize in receiving Service of Process (legal mail) on behalf of your Delaware LLC. Most Registered Agent Services in Delaware cost between $100 and $300 per year.
Once hired, they will receive Service of Process (and regular mail) sent to your Delaware LLC and then forward it to you by mail, or scan and upload it to your online dashboard.
They will also email you annual report reminders to make sure you keep your Delaware LLC in compliance with the Department of State.
The Delaware Registered Agent Service we recommend is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why we recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the service we use ourselves) because they’ve been in business for over 20 years, have great customer service, and they let you use their address in your entire LLC filing in order to keep your address off public record.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many filers in Delaware start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that all addresses that are on your LLC’s Certificate of Formation get listed on public record and may appear in google searches.
If you were thinking of using your home address, but would rather keep it off public records, you can hire a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their address throughout your Certificate of Formation. Northwest Registered Agent offers this unique service at no additional cost. They offer Registered Agent services for $125 per year and they’ll let you use their address throughout your Certificate of Formation.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded into your online account.
Northwest usually charges $100 + state fees to form an LLC. However, we’ve negotiated a discounted rate (60% off) for LLC University® readers.
As mentioned above, you can be your own Registered Agent in Delaware. In fact, you, a friend, a family member, or even your LLC itself can be your Delaware Registered Agent.
But are there risks to being your own Registered Agent?
In short, there are risks. They are not too likely to occur, but if they do, you could lose your liability protection and the Delaware Department of State has the power to administratively dissolve and shut down your LLC.
This can happen if you don’t maintain (always have) a Registered Agent on file, or if the Department of State is unsuccessful in reaching your Delaware Registered Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (a person who serves court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your Delaware Registered Agent, a court case could proceed in your absence and you might not know about it.
A few reasons a process server might not be able to reach your Delaware LLC’s Registered Agent:
- you, your friend, or family member are not there during business hours (the state of Delaware requires that your Registered Agent maintain normal business hours)
- you/they are on vacation or out of town
- you/they moved and you forgot to file a Change of Registered Agent with the state
Using a Delaware Registered Agent Service (aka “Commercial Registered Agent”) is a more reliable setup. It also gives you the freedom to take vacations and not worry about changing your Registered Agent address if you move.
And the best part, using a Delaware Registered Agent company helps protect your privacy by keeping your home address off of public records.
Once you determine who will serve as your Delaware LLC’s Registered Agent, you can then proceed to the next Lesson: Delaware LLC Certificate of Formation.
If you need to hire a Delaware Registered Agent Service (a Commercial Registered Agent), please do so before going to the next step.