Change Your Registered AgentAnyone 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.

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 instead of your personal address, 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 (only in Colorado — no age requirement in other states)
  • 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.

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, like Northwest.

Frequently Asked Questions

In Short, How Do I Change Registered Agents?

This varies by state, but in most states, you will need to file a “change of registered agent” form. This is typically a rather simple form, although there is usually a small fee required. In some states, you can also change registered agents by indicating the change in your LLC annual report, or by amending your articles of organization.

What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent (also known as a statutory agent or resident agent) is an individual or business entity that receives document deliveries on your behalf from your state of formation. Your registered agent informs you whenever they receive a document for your business, and forwards any relevant forms to you.

While this may sound like a somewhat unnecessary middle man, the registered agent’s role is crucial because the government needs to have a way to reliably contact a representative of your business.

Is a Registered Agent Required When Creating an LLC?

Yes, you must designate a registered agent when forming an LLC.

Should I Serve as My Own Registered Agent?

While it is legal in all 50 states to serve as your own registered agent, we almost never recommend doing so. While it can save you $100+ per year, the biggest issue is that you may be required to make your personal address and phone number a matter of public record, which is a serious privacy concern.

In addition, if you serve as your own registered agent, you will need to be available from 9 am to 5 pm every weekday, because if someone tries to serve you for a lawsuit and you’re not around, the suit could continue in your absence, without your knowledge.

Can My Accountant or Lawyer Be My Registered Agent?

Some entrepreneurs do choose to designate their accountant or lawyer as their registered agent. This is a better idea than serving as your own agent because most accountants and attorneys keep standard business hours at their offices and are therefore available to be registered agents. Plus, because you already do business with them, you know you can trust them.

On the other hand, lawyers and accountants often charge high rates for this service, and may not have any experience as registered agents. Also, if you want to expand to additional states, you’ll need a different registered agent, because most attorneys and accountants only have locations in one state.

How Do I Change Registered Agents?

This varies by state, but in most states, you will need to file a “change of registered agent” form. This is typically a rather simple form, although there is usually a small fee required. In some states, you can also change registered agents by indicating the change in your LLC annual report, or by amending your articles of organization.

If you’d like state-specific info regarding what this process looks like, check out our guides for changing a registered agent.

Will a Registered Agent Service Help With Ongoing LLC Compliance Requirements?

Absolutely. Many professional registered agent services include some sort of compliance monitor tool that allows you to keep track of your important filing deadlines. In addition, many registered agent services also offer annual report service, taking a major ongoing compliance requirement off your hands.

I’ve Heard the Most About LegalZoom. Why Isn’t It the Best Registered Agent Service?

LegalZoom is the most well-known business formation and registered service provider online, thanks to its massive advertising budget and impressive customer volume.

However, at $299/year, LegalZoom’s prices and features simply aren’t as impressive as other good registered agent services, like the ones we’ve discussed in this guide. We feel Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness, and IncFile all offer more value per dollar for registered agent service than LegalZoom.

Do Services That Provide Registered Agent Service Help With Other Things Too?

Yes, most registered agent service providers offer a number of other online business services. While the exact services offered by these companies vary, you’ll often see offers for LLC formation service, EIN acquisition, annual report service, foreign qualifications, business licensing research, and more.

Is There an Age Requirement for Serving as a Registered Agent?

The only state that has an age requirement for registered agents is Colorado, which only allows individuals 18 years or older to serve in this role. Otherwise, there is no age requirement in any other state.

Wrapping Up

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. With your new agent in place, you can continue forging ahead to sustained business success.

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