Choosing a Registered Agent for your LLC
Before filing your Articles of Organization with the Department of State, you need to select a Registered Agent for your Florida LLC.
What does a Registered Agent do?
A Florida Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your LLC in case your Florida business gets sued.
Florida Registered Agents also serve as the general point of contact for receiving business and tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents.
Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their Registered Agent service free for the 1st year.
All Registered Agents must have a physical address in Florida (PO Boxes aren’t allowed).
Your Florida Registered Agent must also be available during normal business hours (9am – 5pm) in case Service of Process arrives. Service of Process for an LLC includes delivery of legal documents such as complaints, summons, or subpoenas.
Why does my LLC need a Florida Registered Agent?
In short, this is how the Florida court and legal systems work. Requiring all Florida LLCs to keep a Registered Agent on file with the state makes sure that delivery of legal mail and court documents can be properly tracked.
It’s similar to how certified mail with a return receipt works. It creates a physical record that something was delivered.
Who can be a Florida Registered Agent?
You have 3 options for who can be the Registered Agent for your Florida business:
- You can you can be your own Florida Registered Agent (are there risks?)
- A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent
- You can hire a Florida Registered Agent Service, also known as a Florida Commercial Registered Agent.
What’s the best Registered Agent option to choose?
If you have a street address located in Florida (such as a home or Florida business address), and are available during business hours, you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
If you don’t have a street address in Florida, you can use a friend or family member’s address. They need to have a street address in Florida and be available during business hours.
If you don’t have a street address in Florida, and you don’t have a friend or family member’s address that you can use (or prefer not to), you can hire a Florida Registered Agent Service Company.
Using a Registered Agent Service Company in Florida also offers more privacy (can keep your address off public records) and can be a more reliable setup.
Is a Registered Agent address public?
Yes, your Florida Registered Agent address is public record. In fact, all information you enter in your Articles of Organization becomes public record with the Florida Department of State.
While you do have the option to be your own Registered Agent in Florida (or use a friend or family member), you may not want to have your address listed in public records.
Not only is this information searchable by the public, but other websites download the state’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.
If you’d like to keep your address off of public records, we have a strategy for that.
Florida Registered Agent Services
Note: The terms “Florida Registered Agent Service” and “Florida Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We will use them both interchangeably.
A Florida Registered Agent Service specializes in receiving Service of Process (legal documents) on behalf of your LLC.
Since most companies offer free mail forwarding, any mail or Service of Process that is sent to your LLC will be forwarded to you, or scanned and uploaded to your online account.
Most Registered Agent Services in Florida cost between $100 and $300 per year.
Who’s the best Florida Registered Agent Service?
The Florida Registered Agent Service that we recommend is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Northwest has been in the business for over 20 years and they have great customer service.
However, one of the greatest things about using Northwest is the privacy feature.
How to keep your address off public records:
It’s important to realize that your Registered Agent address (and all addresses in your LLC’s Articles of Organization) become a part of public record. If you want to keep your address off of public record, using a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their business address as your LLC’s address can be very helpful.
Northwest Registered Agent provides this unique service at no additional cost. They offer Registered Agent services for $125 per year and they’ll let you use their business address throughout your Articles of Organization.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded into your secure online account.
You can use their business address in all sections of your Articles of Organization:
- Cover letter address
- Principal Office address
- Mailing address
- Registered Agent address
- Member/Manager address
Any mail that is sent to Northwest for your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded by your Registered Agent online.
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.
Risks of being your own Florida Registered Agent
As mentioned above, you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Florida. In fact, you, a friend, or a family member can be your Florida Registered Agent.
But are there any risks to being your LLC’s Registered Agent?
In short, there are risks. They are not very likely to occur, but if they do, you could lose your liability protection and the Florida Department of State has the power to administratively dissolve (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 Florida Registered Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (a person who serves court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your Florida Registered Agent, a court case can proceed in your absence and you might not even know about it. 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 Florida 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 state
Using a Florida Registered Agent Service like Northwest Registered Agent is a more reliable setup and offers more privacy.
It also gives you the freedom to take vacations and not worry about changing your Registered Agent address if you move.
Once you determine who will serve as your Florida LLC’s Registered Agent, you can then proceed to the next Lesson: Florida LLC Articles of Organization.
If you need to hire a Florida Registered Agent Service, please do so before going to the next step.
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Florida Registered Agent FAQs
If you form a Florida LLC online, it will be approved in 1-2 business days.
If you form your LLC by mail, it’ll take 5-7 business days for the state to process your Florida Articles of Organization filing. So it’ll be about 3-4 weeks total before you receive the approval documents back in the mail.
If you don’t want to use your home address, you can hire Northwest as your premium Registered Agent Service.
Northwest Registered Agent will let you use their address throughout your business entity filing. They’ll help you meet state requirements without the headache that comes with having your information on public records – or having to rent office space in Florida.
However, you can’t use a PO Box for your LLC’s Principal Office address. The Principal Office address is the main address for your Florida business. This must be a physical address.
You also can’t use a PO Box for your LLC’s Registered Agent address. This must be a physical address and it must be located in Florida.
Just know that anyone serving as your Registered Agent will have their address made public record as your Florida Registered Office address.
If you aren’t comfortable with your address being on public record, then you can hire Northwest Registered Agent as your Registered Agent in Florida. They’ll let you use their own business address for their Florida office throughout your formation documents. This makes sure your information remains private while still meeting all Florida legal requirements.
Florida LLC Act: Section 605.0113
Florida LLC Act: Section 605.0114
Florida LLC Act: Section 605.0115
Florida Bar: Rules of civil procedure
Florida Bar: Rules of court procedure
Florida Division of Corporations: Division FAQs
Florida Division of Corporations: Search Registered Agents
Florida Civil Practice and Procedure: Section 48.062
Florida Supreme Court: Amendments to Florida rules of civil procedure