Registered Agent

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Choosing Your LLC’s Registered Agent

**Short Answer: Most companies trick you into hiring them as your LLC’s Registered Agent. We’ll give you the truth about what a Registered Agent is, tell you what your options are, and how to save some money.**


Video Transcript:

Most companies trick you into hiring them as your LLC’s registered agent, will give you the truth about what a registered agent is, tell you what your options are, and tell you how you can save some money. There needs to be a reliable street address, and a reliable point of contact where legal documents can be served, in case your LLC is sued. This is known as your registered office, and your registered agent. Your registered office must be a street address. It can not be a PO box located in the state where your LLC is formed. Think of your registered office as the home base for your registered agent. Your registered agent, which is your LLC’s point of contact, should be available at this address during normal business hours to receive documents on behalf of your LLC. Your registered office can be an actual office address, or it can be your home address, or even the address of a friend or family member. Again, your registered agent must agree to accept delivery of legal documents related to any lawsuits against your LLC. Delivery of legal documents related to a lawsuit is known as ‘service of process,’ and service of process includes items like complaints, summons, and/or subpoenas. Many states will also use your registered agent as a general point of contact for mailing you business and tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents. If you’re wondering who can be your registered agent, you have 3 options. Option 1, you can be your LLC’s registered agent. Option 2, a friend or family member can be your LLC’s registered agent, and option 3, you can hire a commercial registered agent for a fee. Note that there are a couple states that allow your LLC to serve as its own registered agent, but this is the exception to the rule. In 90% of the states, your LLC cannot be its own registered agent. Choosing a registered agent depends on whether or not you have a street address located in the state where you’re forming your LLC. If you have a street address in the state, then choose option 1, you serving as the LLC’s registered agent. Option 1 is the most convenient and the least expensive. It’s free. This is what the majority of our customers do. If you don’t have a street address in the state, then choose option 2, a friend or a family member, or choose option 3, and hire a commercial registered agent. Choose option 2 if you have a trusted friend or family member who has a street address in the state. If you or friends or family members don’t have an address in the state, then you’ll need to choose option 3, and hire a commercial registered agent. A commercial registered agent is a company that specializes in receiving service of process on behalf of businesses nationwide. They typically charge between $100 and $300 per year. Once hired, they’ll receive service of process on behalf of your LLC and then forward it to you by mail at any address you’d like. Most will also fax or email your documents if preferred. If you decide to hire a commercial registered agent, we recommend a company called ‘Northwest Registered Agent.’ They’ve been in the business for more than 20 years, and their support is top notch. If you Google ‘Northwest Registered Agent,’ you’ll be able to find their website. As I mentioned at the beginning of the video, we’re going to tell you the truth about the registered agent industry. Unfortunately, many LLC formation companies trick you into hiring them as your registered agent. These companies hide this information in the fine print during the checkout process. Most people don’t even realize that they’re paying extra fees that are being automatically charged to their credit cards each and every year. These companies use language like, ‘Your LLC is required to have a registered agent,’ and then they don’t give you any additional information. While you’re LLC is required to have a registered agent, they don’t tell you that you have other options outside of their company. Options like you being the registered agent for your LLC, or using a friend or family member as your LLC’s registered agent. Even if you do need to hire a commercial registered agent, you should use a reputable company. Not companies that have to trick you into hiring them. Once you determine who your LLC’s registered agent will be, you will then list their name and address when you file your LLC formation documents with the state. Don’t worry about being locked down to 1 registered agent. If you ever need to change your registered agent or your registered office, you just file a simple form with your state and pay a small fee. I hope this information has been helpful for you. Again, once you determine who your LLC’s registered agent will be, you’ll then be able to file your documents with the state and move forward with your LLC formation.
If you need to hire a Registered Agent, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year). They’ve been in the business for over 20 years and have great customer service.

What is a Registered Agent & Registered Office?

There needs to be a reliable street address (and a reliable point of contact) where legal documents can be delivered in case your LLC is sued.

This is known as your Registered Office and Registered Agent.

Your Registered Office must be a street address located in the state where your LLC is formed.

Your Registered Office cannot be a PO Box address.

Think of your Registered Office as the “home base” for your Registered Agent.

Your Registered Agent should be available at this address during normal business hours to receive any documents on behalf of your LLC.

Your Registered Office can be an actual office address, or it can be your home address, or even the address of a friend or family member.

Service of Process

Again, your Registered Agent must agree to accept delivery of legal documents related to any lawsuits against your LLC.

Delivery of legal documents related to a lawsuit is known as Service of Process.

Service of Process includes items such as complaints, summons, and/or subpoenas.

Many states will also use your Registered Agent as a general point of contact for mailing you business & tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents.

Who Can Be Your Registered Agent?

You have 3 options for designating your LLC’s Registered Agent:

Option 1: You can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.

Option 2: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.

Option 3: You can hire a Commercial Registered Agent for a fee.

Note: There are a couple states that allow your LLC to serve as its own Registered Agent, but this is the exception to the rule. In 90% of the states your LLC cannot be its own Registered Agent.

How Do I Know Which One to Choose?

It depends on whether or not you have a street address located in the state where you are forming your LLC.

If you have a street address in the state, then choose Option 1.

Option 1 is the most convenient and least expensive (it’s free!). This is what the majority of our customers do.

If you don’t have a street address in the state, then choose Option 2 or Option 3.

Choose Option 2 if you have a trusted friend or family member (who has a street address in the state).

Since you won’t need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent, you’ll save yourself some money.

If you (or friends or family members) don’t have an address in the state, then you will need to choose Option 3 and hire a Commercial Registered Agent.

Commercial Registered Agent

A Commercial Registered Agent is a company that specializes in receiving Service of Process on behalf of businesses nationwide. They typically charge between $100-300 per year.

Once hired, they will receive Service of Process on behalf of your LLC and then forward it to you by mail at any address you’d like. Most will also fax or email your documents if preferred.

If you need a Commercial Registered Agent, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent (for $125 per year).

Northwest will scan any mail that is sent to your LLC and upload it to your online account. They’ll also let you use their address throughout your entire LLC filing for added privacy (keeping your address off of public records).

Registered Agent Myths Exposed

Unfortunately, many LLC formation companies trick you into hiring them as your Registered Agent.

These companies hide this information in the fine print during the checkout process.

Most people don’t realize they are paying extra fees that are being automatically charged to their credit cards each year.

These companies use language like, “Your LLC is required to have a Registered Agent.” (and then give no additional information).

While your LLC is required to have a Registered Agent, they don’t tell you that you have other options outside of their company…

Like you being the Registered Agent for your LLC, or using a friend or family member as your LLC’s Registered Agent.

Even if you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent, you should use a reputable company… not companies that have to trick you into hiring them.

Registered Agent Recap

Once you determine who your LLC’s Registered Agent will be, you will then list their name and address when you file your LLC Formation Documents with the state.

Don’t worry about being “locked in” to one Registered Agent…

If you ever need to change your Registered Agent (or Registered Office), you just need to file a simple form with your state and pay a small fee.

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Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator at LLC University
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! We teach people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your entrepreneurial journey.

41 Comments

  1. Ellen August 27, 2017

    Hi Matt,

    I am loving your site–very helpful for a first-time LLC about to form. My question related to this article is: Can I list my apartment leasing office as my registered agent? My business is a service with no particular location, and I am concerned about privacy in listing my apartment address. The leasing office is open during regular hours and receives my mail anyway. What do you think? Thanks!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 28, 2017

      Hi Ellen, thank you for your comment! How permanent is the leasing office address? Will they be around for years to come? I’d also ask them if they’re okay with it. If they’ll sign for you (or notify you if a process server arrives). It’s a bit gray, and I’m not saying yes… but you’re likely okay with this setup.

      reply
      • Ellen August 29, 2017

        Thanks for the reply! They did agree to do it and signed, so it will be interesting to see if the paperwork comes back okay. I filed yesterday. Fingers crossed :)

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz August 29, 2017

          Nice. Congratulations on your LLC filing!

          reply
  2. Ali December 24, 2017

    I live in California, but own rental real estate out of state (Texas and Washington states). I’ve been thinking of opening up an LLC and transfer ownership in the LLC names. But I am not sure whether I should open in Texas or Washington (or in my home state of California)? Only reason against California is the $800 minimum tax that I don’t want to pay for years with no income. What do you think I should do?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz December 26, 2017

      Hi Ali, you’ll want to form the LLC where the property is located, since that is where you’re legally doing business. So that’d be an LLC in Texas as well as an LLC in Washington. You can own those LLCs yourself, or you could setup a parent LLC, which is common among real estate investors. A common choice is a Wyoming LLC for the parent company as this provides what’s known as charging order protection. We don’t have an article on this just yet, but we will soon. Thanks.

      reply
  3. Harika January 16, 2018

    for a rental property , we are planning to open a LLC. is it recommended to use our personal address on the LLC or to open a PO Box ?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 16, 2018

      Hi Harika, which state are you referring to and which address field in the filing form? There are usually multiple address fields. However, unless you’re filing in Ohio, you cannot use a PO Box address for your Registered Agent address.

      reply
  4. Kia January 25, 2018

    Hi Matt,

    My question is I do have a street address where my online business will be based out of but the occupants both work during normal business hours. Can I still use myself as the registered agent for my business?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 27, 2018

      Hi Kia, can you expand upon what you mean by “occupants”? Do you mean that you have tenants at the address? Are you accessible at the address? And in what state are you forming an LLC? Then I’ll be better able to assist. Thanks.

      reply
  5. Sarah Conner February 19, 2018

    Hello,

    My friend is trying to give me their LLC. What exactly do I need to do in order to transfer it to my name and change the name of the LLC?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 21, 2018

      Hi Sarah, we don’t have instructions on this. Why not just form a new LLC? Transferring the LLC and changing the name will take time and money (to file an Amendment changing the name), and there are often numerous mistakes which can easily be made.

      reply
  6. Alfred Edwards February 24, 2018

    I own four corporations in California, 1-C and 3-S ) for tax and lawsuit protection, I would like to create a Holding Company (or LLC ) what are your thoughts.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 25, 2018

      Hi Alread, thanks for reaching out, but something like this is not what we do… especially based on brief information. I recommend speaking with both a CPA and a lawyer as there are dozens of things to consider. Apologies we couldn’t be more specific, but it’s really not possible in this case. Thank you for understanding.

      reply
  7. Sean February 26, 2018

    Hi Matt

    With an online retail business that is just setting getting started, do i have to setup the llc in the state I live in (ny) and will I have to pay taxes on it if the business does not have any sales?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 26, 2018

      Hi Sean, yes, when starting an online business that you run from home, you should form the LLC in your home state, so a New York LLC is the route to go. If you don’t have income, you likely won’t pay any taxes, but you may still have to submit a filing (sometimes called a “zeroed out filing” or an “informational return”). And those returns may need to be filed at the federal, state, and local level. After your LLC is formed, we recommend speaking with an accountant to make sure all your reporting is done properly. Hope that helps.

      reply
  8. Sean February 26, 2018

    Hi Matt

    Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

    Have a good day!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 27, 2018

      You’re welcome Sean :) You too, have a great week ahead!

      reply
  9. Eric johnson April 6, 2018

    Can i use my UPS box as the address?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz April 8, 2018

      Hey Eric, each state has different laws around this and many states are silent on the matter. I recommend getting in touch with your Secretary of State. At some point we’ll research this, but it’ll be quite an undertaking. Thanks for your understanding.

      reply
  10. Troy Bowie April 23, 2018

    Hey Matt!!!!!
    Can I use the same address as my business for my registered agent address?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz April 27, 2018

      Troy, what’s up!!! Yup, you can use the business address for the Registered Agent address (as long as it’s a street address). Hope that helps.

      reply
  11. rajwant kaur May 7, 2018

    we asked the swyft filing to apply for LLc and we selected someone to our agent but they selected their company or agent and not willing to change it or giving us run around. can you help me that which form do i to fill to change my agent.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz May 16, 2018

      Hi Rajwant, bummer to hear about that. In what state did you form an LLC?

      reply
      • RAJWANT KAUR August 13, 2018

        Thanks Matts for your replay. it was in California and I read and watched your video and learned that when file first article of organization you can update your info. You have very detailed and helpful step by step lesson.
        Thanks

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz August 16, 2018

          Hey Rajwant, you’re welcome. Just to correct you, it’s the California LLC’s Statement of Information (not Articles of Organization). The first Statement of Information is due within 90 days of the LLC effective date. Then the Statement of Information is due every 2 years. Hope that helps :)

          reply
  12. Ninan T May 8, 2018

    Hello Matt
    Great Job
    Quick Q.Is it alright to use a UPS Store as a Certified Agent in creating LLcs?
    Thanks
    Best to you.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz May 16, 2018

      Hi Ninan, it depends on the state where your forming your LLC. Some states allow it, some states don’t allow it, and other state laws are completely silent. There isn’t a simple black and white answer to this one.

      reply
  13. Anthony Cicero May 9, 2018

    Matt Horwitz 2 thumbs up how to get a LLC Excellent answer you have a great website videos

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz May 16, 2018

      Thanks Anthony!

      reply
  14. Esteban June 14, 2018

    Hi Matt

    I am opening an LLC, for online marketing in Florida. i am currently living in California, however i would be moving out in a little over a year back to Florida. I put my mom’s house as the address for the LLC, can i put her as my register agent as well. she would be home most of the time, but not all the time during normal business hours. can that be a problem?

    Thank you for your response!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz June 18, 2018

      Hi Esteban, yes, your mother can be the Registered Agent for your Florida LLC. This is actually very common… LLC owners (or family) being the LLC’s Registered Agent. And you don’t need to be watching the door like a hawk. Most LLCs never receive Service of Process as most aren’t involved in legal/court matters. And even if your LLC is involved in such matters, the process server will make multiple attempts. Also, the process server may also be able to serve the LLC by giving documents to someone else at the home, who will then give them to your mother. Hope that helps.

      reply
  15. Marc July 15, 2018

    Hello Matt,

    Thank you for this page I found it highly informative! You are doing a great service!

    I am at the crossroads of starting my first llc and have done extensive research of the Registered Agent Services available but have yet to chose one, I prefer to use a service as opposed to using myself.

    Why do you reccomend Northwest? I’ve seen many LLC advice pages reccomend them yet they are not accredited by the BBB and have very few customer reviews online (another LLC advice page who reviews various companies was also vexed by their lack of customer reviews online). A part of me is suspicious that perhaps Northwest is paying many of these sites to reccomend them, or maybe even some of these sites are fronted by Northwest themselves. You seem legitimate so I feel comfortable asking you directly, has Northwest approached you to reccomend them or do you have any affiliation to them? If not (I’m assuming not :) ) why do you feel they are better than the others? I am earnestly seeking a reliable registered agent service but I need to clear my concerns before committing.

    Thank you Matt and keep up this amazing service!!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 12, 2018

      Hey Marc, apologies for the slow reply. We get hundreds of comments/questions, so just catching up. First, thank you for your nice comment! As to some of your concerns about the BBB accreditation and reviews, it seems Tom from Northwest jumped in to answer some of those (which is pretty cool… since we didn’t message Northwest about this page or your comment). No, Northwest did not approach us to recommend them. In fact, it’s the opposite. I reached out to them to set up an affiliate relationship. So while we are compensated to recommend them (via affiliate marketing), if you and I were hanging out in person, I would still recommend them. I’ve been personally using and recommending Northwest for 8+ years. The majority of companies in the registered agent space are shady with subpar business practices. They mislead consumers into hiring them, sell your data to 3rd parties, upsell, have hidden fees, make it hard to cancel services, and are hard to get a hold of by phone (and if you do, you’re speaking with a sales rep who knows little about the details). Northwest doesn’t have sales reps. Just customer support. And the whole team at Northwest can answer just about any question you throw at them. I think they provide the most value in the space. I feel that LLC University® and Northwest are the closest aligned in terms of values and company culture, which is why I’m proud to recommend them (whether you click our affiliate link or just google them and go directly to their website). Thanks for your thoughtful question. Hope that helps!

      reply
  16. Tom Glover July 23, 2018

    Hi Marc. I was reading this page and noticed your question about why so many people recommend Northwest. I’d like to point out a few things about your comment:

    1. Northwest is A+ rated with the BBB. The BBB charges about $2,000 a year to be “accredited” and there’s simply no real reason to pay anything that kind of money.
    2. Northwest is unique in that there are no up-sells or data dumps. Your info stays there and you get no marketing done to you.
    3. Reviews. It’s actually really hard without an extensive borderline harassment of your clients to get lots and lots of good reviews. If you look up someone like LegalZoom, you can see hundreds upon hundreds of bad reviews, but while this looks bad, when someone is generally mad, they’re willing to spend an hour bashing you anywhere that will let them. When you do a great job, you’re a seamless, behind the scenes, exchange. Not in the forefront of peoples minds and that’s really hard to get big amounts of positive reviews. Yes, good reviews happen and there’s about 100 or so good reviews of Northwest on the various reviews website, but I think it’s a real testament to Northwests dedication to customer service that there aren’t a lot of bad reviews. When you see websites that are having 1000’s of reviews, those are bought. You can easily go out and pay review services to consistently post good reviews about your company. Northwest doesn’t do this.
    4. Northwest is Just Not Annoying. 100% refund if you’re not happy. Same day service. It’s just easy to recommend someone when decade after decade, you get reliable, no-nonsense service. Northwest is the 3rd largest registered agent service and that didn’t happen overnight with getting 1000’s of fake good reviews. It happened by showing up to work every day and fighting to take care of the clients as best as you can.

    reply
  17. Dennis T July 27, 2018

    Hi there,

    I had a Delaware LLC that was based in California. The company was acquired, and now all that is left is a holding company that owns some of the stock left over from the acquisition. We technically have no operations in California, but I live in California. 1) Do I still need a registered agent?, and 2) Do I need one for both Delaware and California? The holding company address is now my home address in CA.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 14, 2018

      Hi Dennis, I don’t fully understand how your company (or companies) were setup or sold, but it sounds like like you had a Delaware LLC that was registered as a Foreign LLC to do business in California. If that’s correct, then yes, both the Domestic LLC in Delaware and the Foreign LLC registration in California need to maintain a Registered Agent in each state. Hope that helps.

      reply
  18. Judy July 31, 2018

    Before looking at your website, I bought my LLC through IncAuthority who is processing the paperwork as a Registered Agent. Now they are telling me that I need an Ownership Certificate in addition to all the other forms. Do I need this Ownership Certficate?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 15, 2018

      Hi Judy, I’m going to assume they mean an LLC Membership Certificate. Membership Certificates are not required when forming an LLC since membership interests are spelled out in the LLC Operating Agreement. Membership Certificates are just fancy pieces of paper which reflect the information already in the Operating Agreement. If you want to see what they look like, you can download them for free from Northwest Registered Agent: LLC Membership Certificates. Hope that helps!

      reply
  19. Drian August 1, 2018

    Hi Matt, thanks for all that you do here. The articles saved me about $700 in registering my LLC.

    I want to ask something that’s off this discussion. Its about trademark. I need to legal guidance on how to go about trademark registration. Do you offer the service or know anyone/firm who does?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 15, 2018

      Hey Drian, fantastic! You’re very welcome. We don’t have any specific recommendations at this time for hiring a trademark lawyer, however, you could use our “knights of the roundtable” strategy as discussed in our how to find an accountant article. That may help. Thanks again.

      reply

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