What is a Delaware Registered Agent?
A Delaware Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail and notices on behalf of your Delaware LLC.
Legal mail (called Service of Process) is sent if your LLC is involved in a lawsuit. Additionally, the state may send notices and reminders to your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Delaware Registered Agents should be available during normal business hours (9am – 5pm), Monday through Friday.
And the Registered Agent for your LLC in Delaware must have a physical street address in Delaware. PO Box addresses aren’t allowed.
Does Delaware require a Registered Agent?
Yes, Delaware requires all business entities to list a Registered Agent on their LLC formation paperwork. And they must keep a Registered Agent on file with the state for the life of the LLC.
Why do I need a Registered Agent in Delaware?
The purpose of a Registered Agent is to accept Service of Process in case your business gets sued. And the court needs proof that your LLC received the legal documents.
That’s why each business entity (like a Limited Liability Company or Corporation) must have a Registered Agent on file with the state.
Said another way, Registered Agents are a key component of how the court and legal systems work. By requiring all Delaware LLCs to keep a Registered Agent on file with the state, the delivery of court documents can be properly tracked.
Who can be my Registered Agent in Delaware?
You actually have 4 options for who can be your Delaware Registered Agent:
- a friend or family member
- your LLC
- a Delaware Registered Agent Service
You can save money by being the Registered Agent for your LLC, but there are some risks.
What are the risks?
The risks of being your LLC’s Delaware Registered Agent are:
- missing an important notice from the state
- administrative dissolution
- missing Service of Process (and potential legal consequences)
These issues are more likely to occur if you:
- move and forget to update your address with the state
- travel or leave town for extended periods of time
- don’t have a reliable address
- don’t keep up with your mail
We’ll explain a few of these risks below.
Missing an important notice from the state
Your business needs to promptly receive all important notices sent by the Delaware Division of Corporations or any other state agency.
Notices sent by state agencies often have actions that your LLC must take by a certain deadline. And in some cases, there are penalties and fees if you miss those deadlines.
If you are the Registered Agent for your LLC, and you move without updating your Registered Agent address, the Delaware Division of Corporations can dissolve (shut down) your LLC.
To clarify, the state isn’t looking over your LLC every single day, so this potential administrative dissolution won’t automatically happen if you don’t update your Registered Agent information.
However, if the state finds out that your Registered Agent address isn’t up-to-date, and they can’t reach you, then they could shut down your LLC.
If there is a lawsuit against your LLC, a process server will make multiple attempts to serve your LLC (deliver the court documents).
However, if they are unable to serve your LLC in person, Service of Process can be made another way (like through Certified Mail). This can mean the court notices and/or documents were “delivered” to you, even if you didn’t physically receive them.
Then the person suing your LLC can argue their case without you being there to defend your LLC. In these situations, the person suing your LLC usually wins and the court enters a default judgment against your business.
Contempt of Court
If there is a lawsuit that involves your LLC, the parties might serve your business with a subpoena. The subpoena may ask you to testify in a hearing, or to produce records.
If you don’t respond to the subpoena, you can be held in contempt of court. This can lead to fines, or the court can issue a bench warrant. This means the sheriff can come seize the records or force you to show up in court.
So should I be my own Registered Agent?
You certainly can. While there are risks of being your LLC’s Registered Agent in Delaware, they don’t come up very often. And you can save money by being your own Delaware Registered Agent.
Having said that, hiring a Registered Agent Service can provide additional benefits, such as address privacy.
Registered Agent Information is Public Record in Delaware
While you (or a friend or family member) can be your LLC’s Registered Agent, you may not want to have a home address listed on public record.
The information you enter in your Certificate of Formation (including the Registered Agent’s address) becomes public record with the Delaware Division of Corporations.
Not only is this information searchable by the public, but other websites download the state’s records and republish them on their own website. Then things begin to spread as other public record websites take that same information and list it on their websites too (and the process repeats itself).
Pretty soon your address is listed on many websites and people can easily find it by doing a Google search.
If you’d like to keep your address off public records, we have a strategy for this.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many business owners in Delaware start businesses from their homes. So you should be aware that the Registered Agent’s information on your LLC’s formation documents gets listed on public records.
If you want to keep your address off public records, you can hire a Delaware Registered Agent Service that will allow you to use their address throughout your Certificate of Formation.
Northwest Registered Agent offers this unique service at no additional cost.
There are many Delaware Registered Agents out there, but we have found Northwest to be the best Registered Agent Service available.
What’s the best Delaware Registered Agent option to choose?
Choosing the best Delaware Registered Agent option for your business depends on a few factors.
- you are a Delaware resident, and
- you have a physical street address in Delaware.
You also should be comfortable with your address being listed on public records.
Why choose this option? This is a good option to choose if you want to save money (since you won’t need to hire a Delaware Registered Agent Service).
Friend or Family:
A friend or family member can be your Delaware Registered Agent if:
- they are a resident of Delaware, and
- they have a physical street address in Delaware
They also should be comfortable with their address being listed on public records.
Why choose this option? This is a good option to choose if you aren’t a resident of Delaware, but want to save money (since you won’t need to hire a Delaware Registered Agent Service).
Your Delaware LLC can be its own Registered Agent if:
- your LLC has a physical address in Delaware.
You also should be comfortable with this business address being listed on public records.
Why choose this option? This is a good option to choose if you aren’t a resident, but want to save money (since you won’t need to hire a Delaware Registered Agent Service).
Delaware Registered Agent Service:
A Delaware Registered Agent Service (aka a Registered Agent company) is a company that specializes in receiving mail and Service of Process for your LLC.
Delaware Registered Agent Services usually charge $100 to $300 per year. After they receive mail for your LLC, they’ll forward it to you or upload it to your online account.
Why choose this option? This is a good option to choose if you:
- don’t live in Delaware
- don’t have a friend or family member’s address to use
- won’t be available during normal business hours to receive mail, or
- don’t want your address listed in the Certificate of Formation
If you’d like to hire a Registered Agent Service, the company we recommend is Northwest Registered Agent.
- Related article: Top 7 Registered Agent Services in Delaware
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the Registered Agent Service we use) for a few reasons:
- they’ve been in business for over 20 years
- their customer service agents are LLC experts, and
- they let you use their Delaware business address in your entire LLC filing (to keep yours off public record)
Special discounted pricing for LLC University readers
Northwest usually charges $100 + state fees to form an LLC. However, we’ve negotiated a discounted rate (60% off) for LLC University® readers.
Delaware Registered Agent FAQs
How much does a Registered Agent cost in Delaware?
If you (or a friend or family member) will be your Registered Agent, there is no cost.
If you want to hire one of the Registered Agent Services available in Delaware, it will cost between $100 and $300 per year.
What is the difference between a Registered Agent and an Organizer?
A Registered Agent is a person or company authorized to accept legal documents (Service of Process) on behalf of your LLC.
An LLC Organizer is a person or company authorized to sign your LLC’s Certificate of Formation.
Having said that, you could be the Registered Agent and the Organizer for your LLC.
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