Anyone who runs a business knows that change is inevitable. What matters is how you react.
Whether we’re talking shifts in your market, in your customer base, or within your leadership structure, it’s important to adapt and facilitate smooth transitions. This also applies when changing your registered agent.
At some point during the life of your LLC, your registered agent – the indispensable ally who handles your most important business and legal communications – may need to leave the company. Regardless of the reasons behind this, it’s vital to your LLC’s continuity and stability that you quickly and smoothly switch to a new registered agent.
The good news is that changing agents is relatively easy no matter where you’re located, just a few quick steps. Let’s take a look.
Check out our comprehensive step-by-step guides below on how to change your LLC registered agent.
What Does a Registered Agent Do?
First things first: let’s establish a registered agent’s role in your business. If you’re reading this as an experienced business owner, you’ve likely had plenty of interaction with registered agents already, but if you’re just starting out, you might have some questions.
Your registered agent is the designated individual or business entity to whom the government will send business mail, service of process, legal correspondence, and more. Then, it’s the agent’s job to forward the pertinent items to you. Think of your agent as a mediator or ambassador between your LLC and the state.
Additionally, it’s the registered agent’s job to keep you informed of all important business maintenance deadlines and fees, like annual report due dates or franchise tax payments.
You might ask, “isn’t that just a middle man?” But a registered agent provides some unique and important benefits. For one, they allow you and your LLC members to travel, vacation, take days off, etc. without the fear of missing any important documents. Further, the registered agent’s office address is part of the LLC’s public record, so having a separate agent keeps your personal privacy intact.
Is a Registered Agent Required?
Some people might think that maintaining a registered agent isn’t important, or that they don’t serve a significant purpose, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, a registered agent is legally required for every business operating in every state.
And state governments don’t mess around. Doing business without a valid registered agent on file could result in your LLC losing its good standing with the state and potentially being administratively dissolved.
How to Change Your Registered Agent
Once you find out that your current registered agent is resigning – or that you need to change agents for some other reason – your first step is to decide on a replacement. This can either be an individual or a business entity, as long as they meet your specific state’s requirements (see below).
When you’ve settled on a new agent, you will need to file a change of registered agent form. This document goes by different names in different states, but every state has one, and generally, it requires the following information:
- Your LLC name
- Your current registered agent’s name and address
- Your new registered agent’s name and address
When you’ve completed the appropriate form, check your state’s filing requirements or read through our state-specific registered agent change guides. Most often, the state will let you submit this request by mail or online, although some states only accept one or the other.
Alternatively, some states let you make this change by listing your new agent on your annual or biennial report. This can be convenient if the timing is right because you’ll need to file an annual/biennial report anyway.
Typically, changing your agent is pretty inexpensive, ranging from free to $50. You should include this payment when you submit your form.
Who Can Be A Registered Agent?
Before you go switching up your registered agent, confirm that your replacement is admissible by the state. An acceptable registered agent:
- Has a physical address in the state
- Has a mailing address in the state (cannot be a P.O. box)
- Is authorized to do business in the state (if a business entity)
- Is at least 18 years old (if an individual)
- Must be present at the business address during all standard business hours (9am-5pm)
These requirements leave you with plenty of options, especially considering the fact that your agent can be either an individual or a business entity. Your biggest concern likely won’t be a lack of potential agents, but rather deciding between so many.
If your priority is saving money, you might appoint a friend, family member, or yourself. But if you go this route, remember that your agent must remain at the registered address during all business hours, which makes vacations, sick days, long weekends, etc. a near impossibility for that person. Sometimes a third party like an attorney or accountant can be a better option, although they can be expensive and run into the same issue.
But if you’re seeking a reliable agent that can take responsibilities off your plate and won’t break the bank, you might think about hiring a registered agent service instead.
Consider a Registered Agent Service
These companies are all about registered agent responsibilities. It’s what they do, day in and day out, so you can have the peace of mind that nothing will get lost in the shuffle. Hiring a registered agent service allows you to delegate those duties and keep your personal information out of the public eye. On top of that, most registered agent services operate in all 50 states, so if your business expands elsewhere, you won’t have to hire a new agent in each state.
Plus, many registered agent companies also offer other LLC services like annual report filing and LLC formation, so you can get even more bang for your buck. Some will even throw in a year of free registered agent service when you hire them to start your LLC. Out of all the companies that offer registered agent services, we recommend Northwest and IncFile.
Northwest is a reliable company specializing in LLC formations and top-notch registered agent service. For just $79, they’ll form your LLC, serve as your registered agent for one year, and provide their customized premium customer support. After that first free year, their registered agent service costs $125 per year.
Our other top pick, IncFile, is just a $0 LLC formation fee. They’ll also form your business and throw in a year of registered agent service. They might not offer the same level of customer support as Northwest, but IncFile still has thousands of overwhelmingly positive customer reviews. If you want to continue receiving registered agent service from IncFile after the free 12 months, their annual fee is $119.
Having trouble deciding? Take a look at our side-by-side comparison.
Having to change registered agents might be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Most states have a fairly streamlined process that will get your new agent situated in no time, and if you go with a registered agent service, they will handle the process for you. But with your new agent in place, you can continue forging ahead to sustained business success.