Choosing a Pennsylvania Registered Agent
Before starting a Pennsylvania LLC with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations, you need to select a Registered Office Address for your LLC.
What’s the difference between Pennsylvania Registered Agents and Registered Offices?
A Registered Agent is an individual or business entity who agrees to accept legal mail (called Service of Process) on behalf of your LLC.
In Pennsylvania, the Registered Agent’s address is called the “Registered Office address”.
And you’ll find that the Pennsylvania Department of State often uses the terms Registered Office and Registered Agent to mean the same thing. That’s why we also use these terms interchangeably in this guide.
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.
What are the requirements for a Registered Office address?
A Registered Office address must be a physical Pennsylvania address where Service of Process can be delivered in case your LLC gets involved in a lawsuit. And Service of Process is delivered during regular business hours.
This is why the Pennsylvania Registered Office Address you use must be a physical street address located in Pennsylvania. You cannot use a PO Box address.
In Pennsylvania, the Registered Office Address also serves as a general point of contact for receiving business and tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents from the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Does Pennsylvania require a Registered Agent?
The short answer is yes, but we’ll explain in more detail.
Unlike most states that emphasize the name of a Registered Agent, Pennsylvania is unique in that it emphasizes the Registered Agent’s address (known as the Registered Office). And they refer to a Registered Agent as a Commercial Registered Office Provider in your LLC formation paperwork.
Again, for simplicity, we will use the terms “Registered Agent” and “Registered Office” interchangeably throughout this guide.
Someone at the Registered Office Address (technically your Pennsylvania Registered Agent) needs to be available during normal business hours in case Service of Process for your LLC arrives.
Service of Process can include the delivery of legal documents such as complaints, summons, and/or subpoenas.
It’s important to note that the Registered Office Address on file becomes a part of the public record. Many people who prefer privacy and don’t want their home or office address listed publicly, choose to hire a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP). In most states, this is known as a Registered Agent Service.
Who Can Be Your Registered Agent/Registered Office in Pennsylvania?
When forming an LLC in Pennsylvania, you have 3 options for the address you can use as your Registered Office Address:
- You can use your home or office address.
- You can use the address of a friend or family member.
- You can hire a Commercial Registered Office Provider, also known as a Commercial Registered Agent or Registered Agent Service.
How Do I Know Which One to Choose?
If you have a street address located in Pennsylvania (such as a home or office), and are available during business hours, you can use your address as the LLC’s Registered Office Address.
If you don’t have a street address in Pennsylvania, you can use a friend or family member’s address. They need to have a street address in Pennsylvania and be available during business hours.
If you don’t have a street address in Pennsylvania, and you don’t have a friend or family member’s address that you can use (or prefer not to), you can hire a Registered Agent Service.
Using a Registered Agent Service offers more privacy (keeps your address off of public records) and is a more reliable setup for most people.
Reminder: Most states refer to a Commercial Registered Office Provider as a Commercial Registered Agent, but they are basically one and the same.
Commercial Registered Office Provider (Pennsylvania Registered Agent Service)
A Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP) is a company that specializes in receiving Service of Process on behalf of your Pennsylvania LLC. Companies charge anywhere from $100-$300 per year.
Once hired, a Registered Agent Service will receive Service of Process on behalf of your Pennsylvania LLC and then forward it to you by mail at any address you’d like. Most will also scan and email your documents, or upload them to your online account.
If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Office Provider in Pennsylvania, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why we recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the Registered Agent Service we use ourselves) because they’ve been in business for over 20 years, have great customer service, and they let you use their business address in your entire LLC filing in order to keep your own address off public record.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many filers in Pennsylvania start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that all addresses that are on your LLC’s Certificate of Organization get listed on public record and may appear in google searches.
If you were thinking of using your home address, but would rather keep it off of public records, you can hire a Pennsylvania Registered Agent Service that will allow you to use their address throughout your Certificate of Organization.
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 address throughout your formation documents.
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.
Are there risks if you, a friend, or family member are your LLC’s Pennsylvania Registered Agent?
In short, there are some risks. They are not likely to occur, but if they do, you could lose your liability protection.
For example, if the state is unsuccessful in reaching your Pennsylvania Registered Agent, you may lose your good standing status, and the state has the authority to shut down your Pennsylvania LLC.
Additionally, if a process server is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Registered Agent about a lawsuit (they’ll try a few times), 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 LLC’s Registered Agent:
- You, your friend, or family member are not there during normal office hours
- You/they are on vacation
- You/they moved and you forgot to file a Change of Registered Agent/Office Address with the state
Hiring a Pennsylvania Registered Agent Service is a more reliable setup and gives you the freedom to take vacations and not worry about changing your Registered Office Address with the state if you move.
Our recommendation: We recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Here is a video on how to sign up for their services:
Pennsylvania Registered Agent FAQs
That said, you can save money by being your LLC’s Registered Agent (as long as you have a physical address in the state).
You can submit this form online or by mail. The filing fee is $5.
If you’re a Pennsylvania resident who is at least 18 years old, you can be your own Registered Agent and list your physical Pennsylvania address as your Registered Office. Or, you can hire a company to be the Registered Agent for you.
In Pennsylvania, a company that acts as your Registered Agent is called a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP) or Registered Agent Service.
A state agent may also be called a Registered Agent, a Resident Agent, or a Statutory Agent. In PA, Registered Agents are most often referred to as Commercial Registered Office Providers (aka a CROP). This is because a Registered Agent accepts your legal mail at their Registered Office (aka Registered Agent address).
Pennsylvania Registered Agents must be available between normal business hours to accept these documents.
- Northwest Registered Agent is $125 per year
- Our #1 recommendation for privacy
- ZenBusiness is $199 per year
- MyCompanyWorks is $99 per year
- Harbor Compliance is $99 per year
- IncFile is $119 per year
- Rocket Lawyer is $150 per year
- LegalZoom is $299 per year
Note: If you want to save money, you can also be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Pennsylvania.
Once you determine the address you will use for your Pennsylvania LLC’s Registered Office, you can proceed to the next Lesson: Pennsylvania LLC Certificate of Organization.
If you need to hire a Pennsylvania Registered Agent, please do so before going to the next step.
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