Note: Most states use the term “Registered Agent”, but Maryland uses the term “Resident Agent”. They both mean the same thing and we may use these terms interchangeably.
Who can be the Resident Agent for your Maryland LLC?
Before filing your Articles of Organization with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (discussed in the next lesson), you need to choose a Resident Agent for your Maryland LLC.
A Maryland Resident Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail (known as “service of process”) on behalf of your Maryland LLC in case your business is sued.
The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation will also use your Resident Agent’s address as your LLC’s point of contact for official notices sent to your business.
As per section 4A-210 of the Maryland Corporations Code, your LLC’s Resident Agent must have a physical street address located in the state of Maryland. A Maryland Resident Agent address can’t be a PO Box address.
Your Maryland Resident Agent should generally be available 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 Resident Agent is a key component to how the court and legal systems work. By requiring all Maryland LLCs to have (and continuously maintain) a Resident Agent on file with the state, the delivery of legal mail and court documents can be tracked and accounted for within the state.
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.
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.
Can I be my own Resident Agent in Maryland?
Yes, you can be your Maryland LLC’s Resident Agent, as long as you have a street address located in the state.
Actually, you have 3 options when forming an LLC in Maryland:
Option 1: You can be your LLC’s Resident Agent in Maryland (are there risks?)
Option 2: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Resident Agent.
Option 3: You can hire a Maryland Resident Agent Company, also known as a Commercial Resident Agent or Commercial Registered Agent.
Resident Agent Information is Public Record in Maryland
While you do have the option for yourself (or your LLC) to be the Resident Agent (or use a friend or family member), you may not want to have your address listed on public records.
The information you enter in your Articles of Organization becomes public record with the Department of Assessments and Taxation.
Not only is this information searchable by the public, but it may also appear in google searches.
There is a solution though (see below) if you’d like to keep your address off public records.
What’s the best Resident Agent option to choose?
Option #1 (You):
If you have a street address located in Maryland, are available during business hours, and don’t mind your address being on public records, then you can be your LLC’s Resident Agent.
Option #2 (Friend or Family):
If you don’t have a street address located in Maryland, but you have a friend or family member who does, they can be your LLC’s Resident Agent. They’ll need to be available during business hours and they shouldn’t mind having their address being listed on public records.
Option #3 (Resident Agent Service):
If you don’t have a street address in Maryland (or you’d rather not use it for this purpose), you can hire a Resident Agent Company in Maryland.
Maryland Resident Agent Service
Note: The terms “Resident Agent Company” and “Commercial Resident Agent” mean the same thing.
A Maryland Resident Agent Company specializes in receiving Service of Process (legal mail) on behalf of your LLC.
Most Resident Agent Services in Maryland cost between $100 and $300 per year.
The Resident Agent Company we recommend in Maryland is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why we recommend Northwest Resident Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the service we use) 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 records.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many filers in Maryland start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that all addresses that are on your Articles of Organization get listed on public records and may appear in google searches.
If you want to keep your address off of public records, you can hire a Resident 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 Resident Agent services for $125 per year and they’ll let you use their address throughout your entire LLC Filing.
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.
Risks of being your own Resident Agent in Maryland
As mentioned above, you can be your own Resident Agent in Maryland.
Besides the address privacy we mentioned, are there any risks to being your own Resident 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 Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation has the power to administratively shut down your Maryland LLC if you’re not in compliance with state laws.
This can happen if you don’t “continuously maintain” (always have) a Resident Agent on file, or if the Department of Assessments and Taxation is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Resident Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (a person who serves court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your Maryland Resident Agent (or is unsuccessful in serving your LLC through the Department of Assessments and Taxation), 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 Maryland LLC’s Resident 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 Resident Agent with the state
Next Step: Articles of Organization
After you’ve decided who will serve as your LLC’s Resident Agent, you can then proceed to the next Lesson: Maryland LLC Articles of Organization.
If you plan on hiring a Maryland Resident Agent Company (a Commercial Resident Agent), please do so before going to the next step. You’ll need their address for your Articles of Organization.
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