Before filing the Articles of Organization to form a North Carolina LLC, you need to select a North Carolina Registered Agent for your LLC.
A North Carolina Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your LLC in case your business gets involved in a lawsuit.
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.
North Carolina Registered Agents can also serve as a general point of contact for receiving business and tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents.
They must have a physical street address in North Carolina. A Registered Agent’s address is sometimes called a Registered Office address. This can be a business address or home address. (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 physical 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.
Can I be my own Registered Agent in North Carolina?
Yes, you can be your LLC’s 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:
- You can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in North Carolina (are there risks?)
- A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
- You can hire an NC 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 must 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 physical address located in North Carolina (such as a home or office address), and are available during business hours, you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
If you don’t have an NC street address, but a friend or family member does, you can use their address. They just need to be available at that location 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 an NC Registered Agent Service.
Using a Registered Agent Service 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 Service
Note: The terms “North Carolina Registered Agent Service” and “North Carolina Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We will use them both interchangeably.
A North Carolina Registered Agent Service specializes 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, your Registered Agent Service 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 greatest things about using Northwest is the privacy feature.
How to keep your address off public records:
It’s important to realize that 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 service 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 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 LLC’s Registered Agent in North Carolina
As mentioned above, you, a friend, or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in North Carolina.
But are there any risks to being your LLC’s 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 (shut down) your LLC.
This can happen if you don’t always keep a Registered Agent on file, or if the North Carolina Secretary of State is unsuccessful in reaching them.
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 Registered Agent:
- You, your friend, or family member are not there during business hours (the state requires North Carolina Registered Agents to 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 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, please do so before going to the next step.
What do you think?
Can you take 10 seconds and rate this lesson?
North Carolina Registered Agent FAQs
This is because Registered Agents accept legal mail on behalf of your LLC in the event that your business is involved in a lawsuit. This legal mail is called “Service of Process” and the North Carolina Secretary of State needs to make sure your business is able to receive it.
If you’re looking to save money and have an address in the state where you can be available during regular business hours, you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent. (This can be a home address or a business address).
If you don’t have an address in the state or don’t want your address to be on public records, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent as your Registered Agent Service.
They have exceptional customer service and will let you use their address to keep yours off public records.
Just know that anyone serving as your Registered Agent will have their address made public record as your 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 Service. They’ll let you use their NC office address throughout your filing so your information remains private while still meeting all NC legal requirements.
If you need to change this information for any reason, you can file a Statement of Change of Registered Office And/Or Registered Agent. You can get the form from the NC Secretary of State’s Forms page and the filing is only $5.
Or if you’re just looking to hire a Registered Agent Service in NC, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent.
Check out our Northwest Registered Agent review to learn more.
Legal mail (called Service of Process) is sent if your LLC is involved in a lawsuit. Additionally, the North Carolina Secretary of State Business Registration Division may send notices and reminders to your LLC.
Registered Agents should generally be available during regular business hours (9am – 5pm), Monday through Friday.
They must also have a physical address in the state. PO Box addresses aren’t allowed.