Before forming your Rhode Island LLC with the Secretary of State, you need to select a Registered Agent for your LLC.
A Registered Agent is a person or a company who agrees to accept legal mail on behalf of your LLC in case your business gets sued.
In Rhode Island, a 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 Rhode Island (PO Boxes are not allowed).
Your Rhode Island 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 documents such as complaints, summons, and/or subpoenas.
Note: Most states use the term “Registered Agent”, but Rhode Island uses “Registered Agent”. We will use both of these terms to mean the same thing.
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.
Who Can Be Your Registered Agent in Rhode Island?
When forming an LLC in Rhode Island, you have 3 options:
Option 1: You can be your own 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.
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 Rhode Island.
If your Registered Agent is going to be another company, they must be authorized and registered to do business in the state of Rhode Island.
How Do I Know Which Registered Agent to Choose?
• If you have a street address located in Rhode Island (such as a home or office), and are available during business hours, you can list yourself as the Rhode Island Registered Agent.
• If you don’t have a street address in Rhode Island, you can use a friend or family member’s address. They need to have a street address in Rhode Island and be available during business hours.
• If you don’t have a street address in Rhode Island, and you don’t have a friend or family member’s address that you can use (or prefer not to), you can hire a Commercial Registered Agent.
Using a Rhode Island Commercial Registered Agent offers more privacy and is usually a more reliable setup.
Note: you cannot list your LLC name as the name of your Registered Agent.
Commercial Registered Agent in Rhode Island
A Commercial Registered Agent is a company that specializes in receiving Service of Process on behalf of your Rhode Island LLC. They typically charge between $100-$300 per year.
Once hired, they will receive Service of Process on behalf of your Rhode Island LLC and then forward it to you by mail at any address you’d like. Most will also fax or email your documents as well.
If you need a Commercial Registered Agent in Rhode Island, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why we recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the service we use ourselves) 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 record.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many filers in Rhode Island start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that all addresses that are on your LLC’s Articles 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 public records, you can hire a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their address throughout your Articles 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 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.
Are there risks if you, a friend, or family member are your LLC’s Rhode Island Registered Agent?
In short, there are risks to being your own Registered Agent in Rhode Island. They are not likely to occur, but if they do, you could lose your liability and asset protection.
For example, if the Rhode Island Secretary of State is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Registered Agent, you may lose your good standing status, and the state has the authority to terminate your LLC.
Additionally, if a process server is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Rhode Island 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 in Rhode Island:
- you, your friend, or family member are not there during business hours
- you/they are on vacation
- you/they moved and you forgot to file a Change of Registered Agent with the Rhode Island Secretary of State
Hiring a Commercial Registered Agent in Rhode Island is a more reliable setup and gives you the freedom to take vacations and not worry about changing your Registered Agent address with the state if you move.
Many Commercial Registered Agent will also help keep your Rhode Island LLC in compliance by sending you reminders of ongoing annual reporting requirements.
Once you determine who will serve as your Rhode Island LLC Registered Agent, you can then proceed to the next Lesson: Rhode Island LLC Articles of Organization.
If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent in Rhode Island, please do so before going to the next step.
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