Washington LLC Registered Agent
Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Washington.
Washington LLC Costs:
Washington LLC state filing fee: $200
Washington LLC annual report fee: $60
(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)
A Registered Agent in Washington is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail (known as “service of process”) on behalf of your LLC in case your business gets sued.
In Washington, the Secretary of State’s office will also use your Registered Agent’s address to send LLC approval documents and annual report reminders.
As per RCW 25.15.021, your LLC’s Registered Agent must have a physical street address located in Washington.
A Washington Registered Agent address may not be one of the following:
- PO Box address
- Virtual office address
- Private Mailbox (PMB) or Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA), such as The UPS Store
(There is one exception to the PO Box rule and that is for people enrolled in the Washington Address Confidentiality Program)
Your Washington Registered Agent needs to be available during normal business hours (9am – 5pm) in case Service of Process arrives. Service of Process includes the delivery of legal documents such as complaints, summons, and subpoenas.
Your Washington LLC’s Registered Agent is a key component to how the court and legal systems work. By requiring all Washington LLCs to have (and continuously maintain) a Registered Agent on file, the delivery of legal mail and court documents can be tracked and accounted for.
This is similar to how ‘certified mail return receipt’ works, but in the legal world, this is how process servers – people delivering legal documents – create a record that something was delivered.
Can I be my own Registered Agent in Washington?
Yes, you can be your Washington LLC’s Registered Agent, as long as you have a street address located in the state.
However, you actually have 3 options when forming an LLC in Washington:
Option 1: You can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Washington (are there risks?)
Option 2: A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
Option 3: You can hire a Washington Registered Agent Service, also known as a Commercial Registered Agent.
Registered Agent Information is Public Record in Washington
So while you do have the option to be your LLC’s Registered Agent (or use a friend or family member), you may not want to have your address listed on public records.
Here’s what happens:
The information you enter in your Certificate of Formation becomes public record with the Secretary of State.
Then other websites download the state’s information and relist it on their website. They’re legally allowed to do this as per public record laws.
Then other public record websites take that same information and list it on their website again (and it multiplies from there).
Pretty soon your address is listed on various websites and easily found with a simple google search.
So while this is a pain, there are some solutions which we’ll discuss below.
What’s the best Registered Agent option to choose?
Option #1 (You):
If you have a street address located in Washington, 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.
Option #2 (Friend or Family):
If you don’t have a street address located in Washington, but you have a friend or family member who does, they can be your LLC’s Registered Agent. They’ll need to be available during normal business hours and they shouldn’t mind their address being listed on public record.
Option #3 (Registered Agent Service):
If you don’t have a street address in Washington (or you’d rather not use it for this), you can hire a Registered Agent Service in Washington.
Note: The terms “Registered Agent Service” and “Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We will use them interchangeably.
A Washington Registered Agent Service specializes in receiving Service of Process (legal mail) on behalf of your LLC.
Most Registered Agent Services in Washington State cost between $100 and $300 per year.
The Registered Agent Company we recommend in Washington is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Why we recommend Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is our personal recommendation (and the service we use) 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 records.
How to keep your address off public records:
Many filers in Washington start businesses from their home. For this reason, it’s important to know that your LLC’s Principal Office Address (and all addresses listed in your LLC’s Certificate of Formation) become a part of public record.
If you want to keep your address off of public record, you can hire a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their address as your LLC’s address. The only company that allows this is Northwest Registered Agent. They offer Registered Agent services for $125 per year and they’ll let you use their address throughout your entire LLC Filing.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded into your online account.
Northwest usually charges $100 + state fees to form an LLC. However, we’ve negotiated a discounted rate (60% off) for LLC University® readers.
(to learn more about Northwest, check out our Northwest Registered Agent review)
As mentioned above, you can be your own Registered Agent in Washington state.
Besides the address privacy we mentioned above, 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 Washington Secretary of State has the power to administratively dissolve (shut down) your Washington LLC.
This can happen if you don’t “continuously maintain” (always have) a Registered Agent on file, or if the Secretary of State is unsuccessful in reaching your Washington Registered Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (a person who serves court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your Washington Registered Agent (or unsuccessful in serving your LLC), a court case can proceed in your absence and you might not even know about it.
A few reasons a process server might not be able to reach your Washington LLC’s Registered Agent:
- you, your friend, or family member are not there during business hours (the state of Washington 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
Next Step: LLC Certificate of Formation
Once you determine who will serve as your Washington LLC’s Registered Agent, you can then proceed to the next lesson: Washington LLC Certificate of Formation.
If you plan on hiring a Washington Registered Agent Service (a Commercial Registered Agent), please do so before going to the next step. You’ll need their address for your Certificate of Formation.