Choosing a Registered Agent in Virginia
Before filing your Articles of Organization with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (discussed in the next lesson), you need to designate a Registered Agent for your Virginia LLC.
What does a Virginia Registered Agent do?
A Virginia Registered Agent is a person or business entity that agrees to accept legal documents (known as “Service of Process”) on behalf of your Virginia LLC in case your business gets sued.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission may also use your Registered Agent’s address as your LLC’s point of contact for official notices sent to your business.
Does Virginia require a Registered Agent?
In short, yes, Virginia requires all LLCs to keep a Registered Agent.
Your Virginia LLC’s Registered Agent is a key component to how the court and legal systems work. By requiring all Virginia LLCs to have (and continuously maintain) a Registered Agent on file with the state, the delivery of legal mail and court documents can be properly tracked.
This is similar to how ‘certified mail return receipt’ works, but in the legal world, this is how process servers – (people delivering court and legal documents) – create a record that something was delivered.
Can I be my own Registered Agent in Virginia?
Yes, you can be your Virginia LLC’s Registered Agent, as long as you are a Virginia resident, a Member or Manager of the LLC, and have a physical address located in the state.
However, you actually have 3 options when forming an LLC in Virginia:
- You can be your own Registered Agent in Virginia if you are an LLC Member or Manager.
- Another LLC Member, LLC Manager, or employee of your LLC can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
- You can hire a Virginia Registered Agent Service (also known as a Commercial Registered Agent).
What are the requirements to be a Registered Agent in Virginia?
As per Section 13.1-1015, your LLC’s Registered Agent must have a physical street address located in Virginia. A Virginia Registered Agent address can’t be a PO Box address.
Your Virginia Registered Agent should also be available (generally speaking) 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.
Additionally, if your LLC’s Registered Agent will be an individual person, that person must be a resident of Virginia.
Note: Virginia Registered Agents are sometimes referred to as a “Resident Agent” or a Statutory Agent” in other states. These all mean the same thing. We’ll use the term “Registered Agent” in this guide since that’s what Virginia uses.
What are the risks of being your own Registered Agent in Virginia?
As mentioned above, you can be your own Registered Agent in Virginia.
Besides the address privacy we mentioned, are there any other 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 Virginia State Corporation Commission has the power to administratively shut down your Virginia LLC if you’re not in compliance with the state laws.
This can happen if you don’t “continuously maintain” (always have) a Registered Agent on file, or if the State Corporation Commission is unsuccessful in reaching your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (the person who delivers court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your Virginia Registered Agent (or is unsuccessful in serving your LLC through the State Corporation Commission), a court case can proceed in your absence and you might not even know about it. Or 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 Virginia LLC’s Registered Agent are:
- You (another LLC Member, LLC Manager, or LLC employee) 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 Registered Agent with the Virginia State Corporation Commission
What’s the best Virginia Registered Agent to choose?
If you are a resident of Virginia, are an LLC Member or Manager, have a physical address located in the state, are available during normal business hours, and don’t mind your address being on public record, then you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
An LLC Member, LLC Manager, or LLC employee can also be your LLC’s Registered Agent. They also need to be a resident of Virginia, have a street address located in the state, be available during business hours, and don’t mind having their address being on public record.
- Related article: LLC Member vs LLC Manager
Important: In Virginia, a friend or family member can’t be the Registered Agent for your LLC. You may have seen this as an option in other states, however, this isn’t allowed in Virginia.
If you don’t have a street address in Virginia (or you’d rather not use it for this purpose), you can hire a Virginia Registered Agent Service.
Registered Agent Information is Public Record in Virginia
While you do have the option to be your Virginia LLC’s Registered Agent, you may not want to have your personal address listed in the public records as your Virginia Registered Office Address.
The information you enter in your Articles of Organization becomes public record with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
Not only is this information searchable by the public, but other websites download the state’s records and republish them on their own website. Then things begin to multiply as other public record websites take that same information and list it on their website again (and the process repeats itself).
Pretty soon your address is listed on various websites and people can easily find it by doing a google search.
If you’d like to keep your address off of public records, we have a strategy for that we’ll discuss below.
Virginia Registered Agent Service
A Virginia Registered Agent Service specializes in receiving Service of Process (legal mail) on behalf of your Limited Liability Company.
Note: The terms “Registered Agent Service” and “Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We’ll use them interchangeably.
How much does a Registered Agent cost in Virginia?
Most Registered Agent Services in Virginia cost between $100 and $300 per year.
The Virginia Registered Agent we recommend is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why we recommend Northwest Registered Agent Service
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 Virginia start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that all addresses that are listed in your LLC’s Articles of Organization (Registered Agent Address and Principal Office Address) get listed on public records.
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 Registered Office address throughout your Articles of Organization. Northwest Registered Agent provides this unique service at no additional cost. Their Registered Agent service is $125 per year and they’ll let you use their business address throughout your Articles of Organization.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded to 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.
If you plan on hiring a Virginia Registered Agent Service (a Commercial Registered Agent), please do so before going to the next step. You’ll need their address for your Articles of Organization.
Virginia Registered Agent FAQs
How do I find a Registered Agent for a company in Virginia?
While you can google various different Registered Agents and check on their pricing, here is a list of some of the most popular Registered Agent Services and their fees:
- 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
To learn more about how these companies compare against each other, check out Best Registered Agent Services in Virginia.
Note: If you want to save money, you can also be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Virginia.
Can a family member be a Registered Agent in Virginia?
Yes, a family member can be your Registered Agent in Virginia, if they meet the legal requirements.
To be your Registered Agent, your family member must have a physical address in Virginia. (PO Boxes aren’t allowed). And they must be available at that address during normal business hours.
Can I use a virtual address for my LLC in Virginia?
Yes, you can use a Virginia virtual address for your Virginia LLC’s Registered Agent office address.
However, you can’t use a virtual address for your Principal Office address. That said, the Principal Office’s physical address can be in any state, or even an international address.
Can I use a PO Box for my LLC in Virginia?
No, you can’t use a PO Box for your LLC’s Registered Agent office address. You also can’t use a PO Box for your Principal Office address.
Note: The only exception to the PO Box rule for Registered Agents is if your Registered Agent office is in a Virginia town with a population under two thousand people.
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Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.