Forming an LLC in Alabama is a big decision. Before filing the Certificate of Formation, you will need to choose a registered agent. In this article, we’re going to walk through what the role of a registered agent is and what your options are as a business owner.
What is an Alabama Registered Agent & is it Necessary?
Yes, a registered agent is legally required. A registered agent is an individual or service that acts as a go-between with the LLC and the state of Alabama.
In short, the registered agent assumes statutory responsibilities. They must agree to receive and deliver any official communications such as tax or legal documents from the state of Alabama to the LLC. Furthermore, the registered agent must be consistently available to carry out this responsibility without interruption.
If an LLC does not assign or maintain a registered agent, the LLC risks being named non-compliant. This can lead to dissolution of the LLC by the state.
What are the Requirements of a Registered Agent?
Aside from carrying out the statutory responsibilities defined above, a registered agent must meet the following requirements:
- The agent must be an individual resident of the state of Alabama or a corporation authorized for business in Alabama.
- The agent must have a physical address in Alabama.
- The agent must have a mailing address in Alabama.
For reference, here is a screenshot of what information is required on the Alabama Certificate of Formation:
Who can be a Registered Agent in Alabama?
The registered agent can be either an individual or a professional service. Here are the pros and cons of each option.
As mentioned above, if using an individual as your registered agent, the individual must be a resident of Alabama.
This means that the individual cannot be in the process of establishing residency in another state, territory, or country or receiving benefits while claiming residency in another state, territory, or country.
Otherwise, the individual can be an attorney, accountant, or even a friend or family member. Simply add the person’s name and address to the Certificate of Formation.
- Convenience – Using someone you know saves the time of searching for a registered agent service. The individual is probably also someone that you trust.
- Cost – The cost will likely be much lower than using a service, perhaps even free.
- Inconvenience – The individual who acts as registered agent is required to be available without interruption. She/he may not put a hold on mail. This might make vacations a bit tricky.
- Risk that documents are not delivered in timely manner – If using an attorney, for example, you may be risking that she/he is away from the office at the time of delivery. This leaves open the possibility that the document is put in other hands, possibly slowing the process. If using a friend or family member, you run the risk of having documents misplaced or even ignored. Personal and work lives often have many distractions. For example, if quarreling with Aunt Louise over a late or missing tax document worries you, a registered agent service may be a better option.
Registered Agent Service
It cannot be an LLC, LLP or LP. Registered agent services provide this type of assistance. The service’s name and address must be included on the Certificate of Formation.
- Privacy – If documents regarding a sensitive issue such as a lawsuit are being delivered, the service provides a cushion of privacy between your business and the public. In addition, the address of the service, not your business (or family member or friend) is public record. This means that marketing materials or junk mail will be sent to the service, not to the LLC.
- Reliability – The registered agent needs to be available during regular business hours – all business hours. Using a service might provide a measure of comfort knowing that important documents will not slip through the cracks (as long as you use a reputable service). After all, receiving and delivering important and time-sensitive documents is what the service is experienced doing.
- Location – An LLC is not required to maintain a physical presence in the state of Alabama. The LLC may also do business in various states. Many services have you covered by providing that presence in multiple or even 50 states.
- Cost – Using a service is going to cost you more than using an individual. Still, having the peace of mind that important documents are being handled by a professional service may be worth it.
- Unfamiliarity – Using an individual usually means using someone you know and trust. With an unknown entity there is always a risk of unsatisfactory service. Of course, this is what reviews are for!
Finding a registered agent that is the right fit for your LLC may be one of many tasks when setting up your LLC, but one that is essential to running your business efficiently.
How to get a Free Registered Agent
The most cost effective way to get a free registered agent in Alabama is to use a professional LLC service that also offers a free registered agent service.
How it Works
Simply hire a service like IncFile and Northwest Registered Agent to form an Alabama LLC. As part of their package, they’ll include a free registered agent service and list their address on the Articles of Organization instead of yours.
All you pay for is the $150-$250 Alabama state LLC formation fee + $49 or $79 service fee.
This will remove all registered agent responsibilities off your plate, take care of LLC formation paperwork and provide you with an online dashboard to keep track of things that come up in regard to your LLC in Alabama.
How to Change Your Alabama Registered Agent
Later on, if you would like to change the registered agent for your LLC, the process is simple.
In order to change your registered agent in Alabama, you need to fill out a “Change of Registered Agent or Registered Office by Entity” form. To download it, visit the Alabama Secretary of State website. On the “Business Entities” page, click the “Business Downloads” link and scroll down to find the correct form. You’ll need the following info:
- Your Entity ID Number (to find your ID number, search for your LLC on the SOS website’s “Business Entity Search.” The six digit number to the left of your entity name is your ID number.
- Your entity name (must exactly match the name registered with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office)
- Your current registered agent’s name
- Your new registered agent’s name
- Your new registered agent’s address
- A signature from your new registered agent consenting to the appointment
- Your signature
- Your credit card information (if paying by email or fax)
The hard part is over. Now you just need to submit your form, and you can do so by postal mail, email, or fax. No matter which option you choose, you’ll be charged at $25 fee.
Email is the quickest and easiest way to file. The Secretary of State’s office will receive your form and payment immediately, and their typical processing time is 3-5 business days. Email your completed form to email@example.com.
Fax is just as quick, and you can fax your filing to (334) 240-3138 is you’d like to go this route. You must pay by credit card if filing by fax.
If you’d rather hand it off to the postal service, that’s fine too! Just know that the change to your registered agent may take a little longer. You can pay by check, money order, or credit card. Along with your payment information, mail two copies of your completed form to:
Secretary of State, Business Services Division
P.O. Box 5616
Montgomery, AL 36103-5616
When completing your form, make sure to type and laser print it. The Secretary of State’s office will not accept handwritten forms, no matter how neat your handwriting is.
If you’re lucky, your need for a registered agent change will fall between January 1 and March 15, when you’re filing your annual report with the state. In this case, you can simply update your registered agent information there.
If you’re too busy, or if you’d feel more comfortable letting someone else take the reins, you have the option of hiring a company or individual to file your paperwork for you. It’s a great way to save time and stress.
Submit your form? Pay your fee? Then your registered agent change is in the works! Need your form processed ASAP? Alabama offers expedited processing for a fee of $100. Otherwise, you should see your change reflected 3-5 days after the Secretary of State’s office receives your filing and payment.
Have Questions or Concerns?
If you’d like to talk to the state directly about your questions or concerns, it’s easy!
Visit Their Website
Visit the Alabama Secretary of State LLC page for more information about registered agents in the state of Alabama. They have great information regarding the cost of formation and much more you should be aware about.
Give Them a Call
If you’d prefer to call, reach out to their Montgomery office at (334) 242-7200.
Be Familiar with Alabama Law
Here’s what the Alabama Code 10A-1-5.31 specifically says:
Designation and maintenance of registered agent and registered office.
(a) Each filing entity, each foreign filing entity, each foreign registered limited liability partnership registered pursuant to Article 7, and any registered limited liability partnership that does not maintain a place of business in this state shall designate and continuously maintain in this state:
(1) a registered agent; and
(2) a registered office.
(b) A registered agent:
(1) is an agent of the entity on which may be served any process, notice, or demand required or permitted by law to be served on the entity;
(2) may be:
(A) an individual who is a resident of this state; or
(B) a domestic entity or a foreign entity that is registered to do business in this state; and
(3) must maintain a business office at the same address as the entity’s registered office.
(c) The registered office:
(1) must be located at a street address where process may be personally served on the entity’s registered agent;
(2) is not required to be a place of business of the filing entity or foreign filing entity; and
(3) may not be solely a mailbox service or a telephone answering service.