Before filing the Articles of Organization to start your North Carolina LLC, you need to select a North Carolina Registered Agent for your LLC.
A Registered Agent in North Carolina is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your LLC in case your business gets sued.
In North Carolina, your Registered Agent can also serve as a general point of contact for receiving business and tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents.
Your Registered Agent must have a street address in North Carolina (PO Boxes are not allowed).
Your North Carolina 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, and/or subpoenas.
In short, this is how the North Carolina court and legal systems work. By providing a reliable North Carolina street address and a Registered Agent of record, the delivery of legal mail and court documents can be tracked. It’s similar to how ‘certified mail return receipt’ works. It creates a physical 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 Registered Agent in North Carolina?
Yes, you can be your own North Carolina Registered Agent, as long as you meet the requirements mentioned in the next section.
However, you actually have 3 options when forming an LLC in North Carolina:
Option 1: You can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in North Carolina (are there risks?)
Option 2: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Option 3: You can hire a North Carolina Registered Agent Service, technically known as a Commercial Registered Agent.
Important: If your Registered Agent is going to be an individual (you, a friend, or a family member), that individual needs to be a resident of North Carolina and be at least 18 years of age.
What’s the best Registered Agent option to choose?
• If you have a street address located in North Carolina (such as a home or office address), and are available during business hours, you can be your own Registered Agent.
• If you don’t have a street address in North Carolina, you can use a friend or family member’s address. They need to have a street address in North Carolina and be available during business hours.
• If you don’t have a street address in North Carolina, and you don’t have a friend or family member’s address that you can use (or prefer not to), you can hire a North Carolina Registered Agent Service Company.
Using a Registered Agent Service Company in North Carolina also offers more privacy (can keep your address off public records) and can be a more reliable setup.
North Carolina Registered Agent Services
Quick Tip: The terms “North Carolina Registered Agent Services” and “North Carolina Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We will use them both interchangeably.
North Carolina Registered Agent Service Companies specialize in receiving Service of Process (legal mail) on behalf of your North Carolina LLC. Most Registered Agent Services in North Carolina cost between $100 and $300 per year.
Once hired, they will receive Service of Process on behalf of your North Carolina LLC and then forward it to you by mail, or scan and upload it to your online account.
Who’s the best North Carolina Registered Agent?
The North Carolina Registered Agent Service that we recommend (and use ourselves) 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 coolest 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 address as your LLC’s address can be very helpful.
Northwest Registered Agent is the only company that offers a Registered Agent service where they’ll let you use their address throughout your entire Articles of Organization.
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 Registered Agent in North Carolina
As mentioned above, you can be your own Registered Agent in North Carolina. In fact, you, a friend, or a family member can be your North Carolina Registered Agent.
But 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 North Carolina Secretary of State has the power to administratively dissolve and shut down your LLC.
This can happen if you don’t maintain (always have) a Registered Agent on file, or if the Secretary of State is unsuccessful in reaching your North Carolina Registered Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (a person who serves court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your North Carolina 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 North Carolina LLC’s Registered Agent:
- you, your friend, or family member are not there during business hours (the state of North Carolina requires that your Registered Agent maintain normal 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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina LLC’s Registered Agent, you can proceed to the next Lesson: North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization.
If you need to hire a North Carolina Registered Agent Service (a Commercial Registered Agent), please do so before going to the next step.
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