If you operate an LLC or corporation in South Dakota, you need to designate a registered agent to accept document deliveries from the state. You have a few options regarding who should provide this vital service, our favorite of which is hiring a registered agent service.
These companies will serve as your registered agent in exchange for an annual fee, keeping your business in compliance with state law by receiving documents like service of process, tax documents, reminders when your Annual Report is coming due, and more.
In South Dakota, there are quite a few reputable companies offering registered agent service, which can make it difficult to determine which company is your best choice. That’s why we took a deep dive into all of your options to create this list of the best South Dakota registered agent services. Which one should you use?
At ZenBusiness, we pride ourselves on providing convenient, easy-to-leverage business services that leave you more time to actually run your business. When it comes to ongoing registered agent service, ZenBusiness has a great $99 rate for the first year and a competitive $199 rate for subsequent years.
If you haven’t yet formed your LLC or corporation, we offer an outstanding bargain. We will form your new business for free — all you have to do is cover the required state filing fee.
Let’s take a look at some of our advantages and disadvantages compared to our top competitors.
- Low $99 price point for the first year
- Great customer feedback
- Strong customer service
- Gives back to socially disadvantaged entrepreneurs
- Not the absolute cheapest option available
There are more than 10,000 reviews of ZenBusiness online, and nearly all of them are positive, giving us one of the best customer satisfaction reputations in the industry. We also have a helpful and knowledgeable customer support department that can answer your tough questions.
Next up is Northwest Registered Agent, a company that offers personalized customer support. Northwest no longer provides free mail forwarding service with its registered agent offering, which used to be a cornerstone of its service. However, it still has plenty of advantages.
How does Northwest Registered Agent stack up to the competition?
- Personalized customer support
- Volume discounts available
- Free registered agent service with business formation
- Expensive business formation service
- Not many other services offered
Northwest Registered Agent’s calling card is its personalized customer support. Instead of outsourcing its support network to a generic call center with questionably trained representatives, Northwest keeps its support team in-house. Everyone who answers the phone for Northwest is a professional who knows their stuff.
Northwest offers a year of registered agent service in South Dakota with any business formation service purchase. However, at $225, the price point for this package is higher than most competitors.
We appreciate Northwest’s volume discounts for registered agent service, as they’ll slash your rate from $125 to $100 annually if you require service in at least five states. In addition, they receive strong customer reviews and offer free ongoing compliance reminders.
Overall, if you prioritize personalized customer support, Northwest’s advantages likely outweigh its disadvantages.
Like ZenBusiness, IncFile offers a free business formation service. With IncFile, this includes a year of registered agent service as well. As a standalone service, IncFile provides registered agent service at an annual rate of $119, which is a solidly competitive price point.
- Free business formation service with registered agent service
- Good customer feedback
- Lots of upsells
With more than 30,000 reviews available online, IncFile maintains high average rating scores, making them an impressive pick for registered agent service in South Dakota.
However, one drawback of using IncFile is how they can be rather relentless with upsell attempts. IncFile has plenty of add-on features available, and it will certainly remind you of that fact several times as you work your way through their order form. It can also take IncFile a while to respond to customer support messages, especially via email.
Overall, IncFile is a rock-solid option for registered agent service, albeit without some of the bells and whistles you’ll find with some competitors.
Rocket Lawyer is one of the industry’s biggest names, with millions of customers served and a robust advertising budget that gets its name out. Rocket Lawyer’s pricing is a bit high, but if you’re looking for an experienced option, look no further.
- Tons of experience
- Solid customer satisfaction reputation
- Strong customer support
- Somewhat high price points
- Very few features
Rocket Lawyer has a few thousand reviews available, with mostly positive scores. While its registered agent pricing doesn’t jump off the page, subscribers to Rocket Lawyer’s $39.99/month legal services program receive 25% off registered agent service, free business formation service for new members, and more.
We are always impressed with Rocket Lawyer’s support network, as its representatives are responsive and helpful. Rocket Lawyer offers extended support availability from 9 am to 9 pm every weekday. If you’re willing to spend a bit more in exchange for a company with tons of experience, or if you’re interested in Rocket Lawyer’s legal services subscription, give them a look.
LegalZoom is similar to Rocket Lawyer in that it’s a company with millions of customers served and offers advanced legal services. However, LegalZoom has an unfortunately high price point for South Dakota registered agent service. You can get your first year for $249 if you add it to a business formation package, but even that isn’t a great deal.
- Millions of customers served
- Industry’s longest support hours
- 100% satisfaction guaranteed
- High prices
- Few features in formation packages
We are impressed by LegalZoom’s 100% satisfaction guarantee, which is nearly identical to the ZenBusiness refund policy. Also, they have the longest customer support hours in this industry, with 14 hours per day of weekday availability and nine hours on weekends too.
That said, LegalZoom’s high price tag for registered agent service is a problem. Seeing as this company also excludes valuable features from its business formation packages, the other options in this guide all have better value propositions than LegalZoom.
What Is a South Dakota Registered Agent?
Every business entity in the state of South Dakota is required to have a registered agent. In fact, you will not be allowed to finish the formation process for your company until you designate your registered agent.
In South Dakota, there are three types of registered agents: noncommercial registered agents, commercial registered agents, and office holders of the organization. The only difference between noncommercial and commercial registered agents is that commercial registered agents pay a registration fee of $100 to be listed with the Secretary of State. This makes them easier to find and gives them a better chance of being located by businesses in need of new agents. Meanwhile, an office holder of the organization is the registered agent for a corporation in which one of the corporation’s officers handles this role.
The most important aspect of this role is receiving document deliveries from the state government, then alerting your business of the delivery, before forwarding the documents to you. The role of the registered agent is so important because it establishes a point of contact for your business with the state so that they have a reliable place to get in touch with an official representative of your company at any time.
The South Dakota Secretary of State provides a comprehensive list of all commercial registered agents currently serving in the state. It might sound overwhelming, but it’s actually a pretty manageable list since it includes only commercial agents. Please note that the list is in alphabetical order — not a ranking — and the state is not endorsing these agents, simply providing their information.
What Does South Dakota Law Say About Registered Agents?
Each state has its own rules and regulations surrounding registered agents. For the most part, these laws are fairly similar, but it’s always worth taking a look to see what South Dakota requires.
In South Dakota, we’ll need to take a look at The South Dakota Model Registered Agents Act, which says:
- Every entity that files with the Secretary of State (both domestic and foreign) must appoint a commercial or noncommercial registered agent
- Both commercial and noncommercial registered agents can be individual residents of the state or business entities with the authority to operate in the state
- A commercial registered agent is no different from a noncommercial agent, except for the fact that commercial agents register to be included in the statewide index
- An agent must be continuously maintained
All of the companies we’re about to discuss meet these regulations and are great options for South Dakota registered agent service. When you’ve made your choice, you can indicate your registered agent’s name and address on your Articles of Organization.
What About Small, South Dakota-only Registered Agent Services?
As you’ve probably noticed, the registered agent services we’ve listed here serve businesses across the country. But if you Google “South Dakota Registered Agent,” you’ll probably see results for local services, too. These can be local entrepreneurs with a knack for clerical tasks, offices dedicated to serving businesses in their counties, or statewide companies.
On one hand, using a local service can have its advantages. Some will be cheaper than nationwide firms (but not always!). And each state has its own nuances for business compliance requirements, South Dakota included. A registered agent service that services South Dakota alone will have detailed knowledge about those requirements. Granted, most national services do a good job of understanding local requirements. But they probably won’t give you the same “homegrown South Dakota” feeling as a local agent service.
That said, national businesses like Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness give you streamlined solutions. Let’s say you’re using a local South Dakota-only registered agent service, but it’s time to add locations in North Dakota. You could search for an additional agent that services North Dakota businesses. But that’s going to require a lot of additional paperwork, including new receipts, new automatic payments, more emails…you get the idea. But if you’re using a national service, you can cut down the “new” paperwork and focus on what really matters: growing your business.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you, and there’s no “wrong” answer. The most important thing is that you appoint one so you can run a compliant South Dakota business.
The role of a South Dakota registered agent is critical to your company’s compliance and legal standing. This position requires dealing with seemingly simple tasks, yet if they’re handled incorrectly, they could cost you a considerable amount of money in fines, and could even potentially see the state dissolve your business.
While you can always change your registered agent down the line, we think it’s essential to pick the right registered agent for your business starting at the formation phase. You should also keep an eye on your compliance standing to ensure nothing goes awry along the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can serve as a registered agent in South Dakota?
In South Dakota, there aren’t many complicated requirements for registered agent eligibility. Any individual or business entity located within the state can serve as your company’s registered agent. The only requirements are that they have a permanent address in South Dakota and that your company itself can not serve as its own registered agent (although you or one of your co-owners may assume this role individually).
South Dakota is a bit unique because it maintains a system of commercial and noncommercial registered agents. But let’s be clear: both commercial and noncommercial agents accomplish the exact same thing. A commercial registered agent simply registers with the Secretary of State to be included on the state database of agents (usually because they offer it as a business service). Noncommercial agents are appointed on a private basis.
Must my registered agent be located in South Dakota?
Yes. If your registered agent is an individual, that person must live in South Dakota. If your agent is a business entity, that company must either be a domestic South Dakota business or one with the authority to conduct business in the state.
How can I change my registered agent in South Dakota?
South Dakota keeps the process of changing your registered agent pretty simple. All you have to do is download the Statement of Change of Registered Office or Registered Agent or Both form, fill it out, and submit it to the Secretary of State. You can also file this form online. If you file online, it costs just $10; South Dakota upcharges an additional $15 for paper documents. For more information on how to change your registered agent in South Dakota, look here.
How does the South Dakota registered agent resignation process work?
If your registered agent chooses to resign and no longer serves as your agent, they will inform both you and the Secretary of State by filing a Statement of Resignation of Registered Agent form. The resignation is not effective until 31 days after it’s filed. That gives you plenty of time to find a replacement agent.
How much does it cost to change my South Dakota registered agent?
If you want to keep your costs as low as possible, you’ll need to file the form online and submit it in a timely fashion. If you file it late, you could cause a lapse in your registered agent coverage, which puts you at risk for additional penalties and fees. But filing online (and on time) ensures your costs stay at just $10.
What are my options if I don’t want to hire a South Dakota registered agent service?
One common option is to serve as your company’s own registered agent or enlist the assistance of a trusted friend or family member. The other route is to hire an attorney or accountant to handle this role. Maybe you prefer the added professionalism these people can provide, maybe you have an existing relationship with an attorney or accountant you trust, etc.
If you’re interested in hiring an attorney but don’t know where to start, we recommend taking a look on Avvo. We also dug through the top-rated lawyers on Avvo to create our own list of the top three business attorneys you could contact regarding registered agent service:
Where can I find more information on forming an LLC in South Dakota?
The best place to learn more about forming a South Dakota LLC is our comprehensive step-by-step guide. You might also be interested in checking out our list of the best South Dakota LLC formation services.
Best Registered Agent Services Reviewed in all States
We break down the best registered agent services in every state. View all of our guides below.
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