Last updated July 29, 2021
District of Columbia
LLC Registered Agent
Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in the District of Columbia.
District of Columbia LLC Costs:
District of Columbia LLC formation: $220 (one-time)
District of Columbia LLC biennial report: $300 (every 2 years)
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DC Resident Agent vs. DC Registered Agent?
What’s the difference between a Resident Agent and a Registered Agent in DC?
A Resident Agent is used by Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships, and Family Trusts.
A Registered Agent is used by LLCs, Corporations, and all other business entities.
RA-1 (Registered Agent Written Consent) is not needed if your LLC is formed online
Form RA-1 is only required if you file your LLC by mail. As discussed in the next lesson (Articles of Organization), we recommend filing online, so you don’t have to worry about this form.
Choosing a Registered Agent for your District of Columbia LLC
Before filing your Articles of Organization with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (discussed in the next lesson), you need to choose a Registered Agent for your District of Columbia LLC.
A District of Columbia Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail (known as “Service of Process”) on behalf of your DC LLC in case your business gets sued.
The Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) will also use your Registered Agent’s address as your LLC’s point of contact for official notices sent to your business.
As per Section 29–104.04 of the DC Code, your LLC’s Registered Agent must have a physical street address located in the District. Your District of Columbia Registered Agent address can’t be a PO Box address.
Your District of Columbia Registered Agent should also be available (generally speaking) during normal business hours (9am – 5pm) in case Service of Process arrives. Service of Process for an LLC includes the delivery of legal documents, such as complaints, summons, and subpoenas.
Your LLC’s Registered Agent is a key component to how the court and legal systems work. By requiring all District of Columbia LLCs to have (and continuously maintain) a Registered Agent on file within the District, the delivery of legal mail and court documents can be accounted for and tracked.
This is similar to how ‘certified mail return receipt’ works, but in the legal world, this is how process servers (people delivering legal documents) create a record that something was delivered.
Can I be my own Registered Agent in DC?
Yes, you can be your District of Columbia LLC’s Registered Agent, as long as you have a street address located in the District. You can be a resident of the District of Columbia or a resident of another state; it doesn’t matter, as long as you have a street address in the District.
However, you actually have 3 options when forming an LLC in the District of Columbia:
Option 1: You can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in DC (are there risks?)
Option 2: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Option 3: You can hire a DC Registered Agent Service, also known as a Commercial Registered Agent.
Registered Agent Information is Public Record in the District of Columbia
While you do have the option to be your District of Columbia LLC’s Registered Agent (or use a friend or family member), you may not want to have your name and address listed on the public records.
The information you enter in your LLC’s Articles of Organization becomes public record with the DCRA.
Not only is this information searchable by the public, but other websites download the DCRA’s records and republish them on their website. Then things begin to multiply as other “public record websites” take that same information and list it on their website again (and the process repeats itself).
Pretty soon your address is listed on various websites and people can easily find it by doing a google search for your name or your LLC’s name.
There is a solution though if you’d like to keep your name and address off of public records. We’ll discuss this below.
What’s the best DC Registered Agent option to choose?
Option #1 (You):
If you have a street address located in the District of Columbia, are available during business hours, and don’t mind your name and address being on public record, then you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Option #2 (Friend or family):
If you don’t have a street address located in the District of Columbia, but you have a friend or family member who does, they can be your LLC’s Registered Agent. They’ll need to be available during business hours and they shouldn’t mind having their name and address listed on public record.
Option #3 (Registered Agent Service):
If you don’t have a street address in the District of Columbia (or you’d rather not use it for this purpose), you can hire a Registered Agent Service in DC. This offers the most privacy as you won’t need to use your name or your address in your LLC’s Articles of Organization.
District of Columbia Registered Agent Service
Note: The terms “Registered Agent Service” and “Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We’ll use these terms interchangeably.
A District of Columbia Registered Agent Service specializes in receiving Service of Process (legal mail) on behalf of your LLC.
Most Registered Agent Services in the District of Columbia cost between $100 and $300 per year.
The Registered Agent Company we recommend in DC is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why Northwest Registered Agent?
We recommend Northwest Registered Agent because they have great customer service, don’t sell your information to 3rd parties (unlike other Registered Agent services), have been in business for over 20 years, and they let you use their address in your entire LLC filing in order to keep your address off public records.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many filers in the District of Columbia start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that your LLC’s Registered Agent address (and all addresses listed in your LLC Articles of Organization) become a part of public record.
If you want to keep your address off public record, you can hire a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their address as your LLC’s address. The only company that allows this is Northwest Registered Agent. They offer Registered Agent services for $125 per year and they’ll let you use their address throughout your entire LLC filing (Registered Agent address, business address, member’s address, and the organizer’s address).
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded into your online account.
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.
Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your District of Columbia LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their registered agent service free for the 1st year.
(to learn more about Northwest, check out our Northwest Registered Agent review)
Risks of being your own
Registered Agent in Washington DC
As mentioned above, you can be your own Registered Agent in the District of Columbia.
Besides the address privacy we mentioned, are there any risks to being your own Registered Agent?
In short, there are risks. They are not extremely likely to occur, but if they do, you could lose your liability protection and the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs has the power to administratively shut down your DC LLC if you’re not in compliance with the laws in the District.
This can happen if you don’t “continuously maintain” (always have) a Registered Agent on file, or if the DCRA is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (a person who serves court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your District of Columbia Registered Agent (or is unsuccessful in serving your LLC through the DCRA), a court case can proceed in your absence and you might not know about it. Or worse, the court could enter a default judgment against your LLC if you aren’t there to defend yourself.
A few reasons a process server might not be able to reach your District of Columbia LLC’s Registered Agent:
- you, your friend, or family member are not there during 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 DCRA
Next Step: Articles of Organization
Once you determine who will serve as your District of Columbia LLC’s Registered Agent, you can then proceed to the next lesson: District of Columbia LLC Articles of Organization.
If you plan on hiring a District of Columbia Registered Agent Service (a Commercial Registered Agent), please do so before going to the next step. You’ll need their address for your Articles of Organization.
DCRA: General Business (GBL)
DCRA: Corporate Registration Details
DCRA Registered Agent Combined Form