Think of all the people you communicate with regularly to run your LLC. Business partners, employees, banks, lawyers, and financial advisors all probably come to mind. But what about the state? It may not be at the top of your list, but running a successful LLC in Colorado requires consistent interaction with the state.
Formation documents, business information changes, lawsuits, professional licenses, and Periodic Reports – all of these (and more) require you to work with state agencies. The good news is that you don’t need to do it yourself.
Introducing the registered agent. A Colorado registered agent is an intermediary for your LLC, a person or company that handles your communication with the state. They’re a vital part of any LLC’s success. Before you file your Articles of Organization, you’ll need to have a designated registered agent. How? Why? Who? Read on to find out.
Prefer to have a service handle the paperwork for you? We recommend Northwest and ZenBusiness as the top registered agent services online. You will save over $100 than if you were to use a service like LegalZoom.
What is a Colorado Registered Agent & is it Necessary?
An LLC cannot be formed or do business in Colorado without first having a registered agent on file with the Secretary of State. This is required by law and the penalties can be serious. Maintaining a registered agent doesn’t just keep you in good standing. It also provides an important service.
Think of your registered agent as your ambassador to the state, handling all your LLC’s important legal, tax, and compliance information. This can either be an individual, company or registered agent service, as long as
As soon as they’re appointed, your registered agent must be consistently available in Colorado to receive and act on mailed documents and service of process. Here’s what the Secretary of State specifically says:
Make sure that you keep a valid registered agent on file at all times. Any LLC that goes 30 days or more without an agent will be labeled “noncompliant,” and if it maintains noncompliance for 60 days or more, it becomes “delinquent.” At this point, you’ll need to file a Statement Curing Delinquency to regain good standing with the state.
What are the Requirements of a Registered Agent?
Colorado isn’t extraordinarily restrictive when it comes to registered agents, but it does impose a few inflexible requirements. To comply, your agent must:
- Be an individual Colorado resident or a business entity authorized to do business in the state.
- Have a physical address in Colorado (not a P.O. box).
- Have a mailing address in Colorado.
Unlike most other states, Colorado will allow an LLC to act as its own registered agent. Appointing yourself or LLC members/managers are also viable options.
Your registered agent’s name address and consent are required information for the Articles of Organization. Here’s what that section looks like on a sample document:
When you’ve got potential options for your registered agent, review each one to make sure that they meet these requirements. If they do, you’re good to go! If not, you’ll need to keep looking.
Who can be a Registered Agent in Colorado?
Colorado’s registered agent requirements are pretty broad, so you’ll have no shortage of options. On top of that, your agent can be either an individual or a professional service. But think carefully before choosing, because each option has its own pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look.
LLC as Registered Agent
In Colorado, an LLC can serve as its own registered agent as long as it has an in-state physical and mailing address.
- Simpler Process – Acting as your own registered agent uncomplicates the formation process, as you’ll have fewer details to iron out.
- Cost – Hiring a commercial agent or registered agent service costs money. Doing it yourself is free.
- Privacy Concerns – A home- or web-based LLC requires that you use your home address as the registered office, so your address would be part of your LLC’s public record. Additionally, this could cause you to receive more junk mail at home.
- Inconvenience – The registered agent needs to be available during all business hours, which could be a hassle if you are the LLC’s sole employee.
You may choose to appoint a single person as your registered agent. Some LLC owners take on registered agent duties themselves. Others appoint one of their partners or managers. Some will even appoint a family member. As long as the proposed agent fulfills the state’s requirements, they’re a valid option.
In addition to being a Colorado resident, your agent must not currently be establishing residency or receiving benefits in another state, even if that residency is still forthcoming.
Some smart registered agent choices include attorneys, accountants, or other LLC partners, people who understand the ins and outs of business operations.
- Convenience – Having familiarity and mutual trust with your registered agent is extremely beneficial, and appointing an acquaintance can provide both. Plus, you’ll always know how to contact them.
- Cost – Hiring someone you know often won’t cost a dime. It’s certainly cheaper than a professional service.
- Scheduling – Part of a registered agent’s duty is being consistently available to receive mailed documents and service of process. If your agent goes on vacation or moves out of state, it will throw a wrench in your plans.
- Punctuality Risks – Some state communications and filings are very time-sensitive. If your agent is unavailable when documents are delivered, it could slow down the entire process and put you at risk for late fees and penalties. Even worse, a friend or family member could lose or misplace a document. So if you’d rather not interrogate Aunt Louise about the location of a particular tax form, you might consider using a registered agent service instead.
Registered Agent Service
If safety and reliability is your goal, hire a registered agent service. A business acting as your registered agent must be either a domestic entity in Colorado or a foreign entity who has foreign qualified in Colorado.
- Privacy – Some documents delivered to your registered agent will contain sensitive information. Do you want details about your lawsuit or taxes lost out there in the world? Definitely not. A friend or family member might misplace these documents, but a professional service will not. Plus, in Colorado, all registered agent names and addresses are available to the public. This might make an individual uncomfortable, but hiring a company will keep this personal information off the record.
- Reliability – Handling and processing time-sensitive documents is a registered agent service’s specialty, its area of expertise, its main game. Hire a professional service and you can be sure that your filings will be submitted properly and punctually, so you’ll never have to deal with late fees or other penalties.
- Location – Many registered agent companies offer service in most or all 50 states, so if business is booming and you decide to expand outside Colorado, you won’t need to find a new agent for each state.
- Cost – There’s no getting around it – hiring a service costs more than appointing an individual who’s willing to do it for free. However, for a reasonable price (roughly $100/year), you’ll receive premium services. Taking your car to a mechanic costs more than letting your neighbor try to fix it, but the mechanic gives you peace of mind that the job will get done right, and that may very well be worth the cost.
All of the other steps in the LLC formation process will keep you busy, but take some time to ensure you find a registered agent that fits with your business model, goals, and values. Do this, and your LLC will reap the benefits for years to come.
How to get a Free Registered Agent in Colorado
Here’s a pro tip: you can get the reliability of a registered agent service and the cost-effectiveness of an individual. The best of both worlds. When you hire certain LLC services to start your business, they’ll throw in free registered agent service.
How it Works
Hire a company like IncFile or ZenBusiness to form your Colorado LLC. In addition to taking care of your Articles of Organization and other formation requirements, they will automatically include a registered agent. It’s a great two-for-one deal.
And an LLC service is pretty affordable – $50 for the Colorado LLC formation fee, plus a small service fee. That’s great value for the number of benefits you receive. Some services will even cover and consolidate your LLC formation costs.
Take this route and you’ll sweep all formation paperwork and registered agent duties off your plate. Plus, to keep track of everything, these services provide user-friendly online dashboards, so you can follow everything they’re doing to keep your LLC in good standing.
Registered Agent Changes and Resignation
You may have a wonderful registered agent, someone who takes care of everything efficiently and who you trust completely. But you know what they say: all good things must come to an end. At some point in the life of your LLC, you may need to change your Colorado registered agent.
You can facilitate this change by filing and paying a $10 online. Just search for your business and follow the onscreen instructions. You’ll need to include names and addresses for both your current and new agent.
The most common reason for making this change is a current agent’s resignation. While the thought of your agent leaving might be stress-inducing, you can rest assured that you’ll never be blindsided by a resignation. This is because Colorado law requires every resigning agent to notify their LLC before leaving. Plus, the official resignation won’t take effect until the 31st day after it’s filed, so you have a solid chunk of time to find and appoint a replacement.
Still, you don’t want to put it off. Go 30 days without an agent on file and your LLC will lose its good standing with the state.
Have Questions or Concerns?
This guide contains almost everything there is to know about Colorado registered agents. However, you might have a unique situation that requires additional information. Reaching out to the Colorado Secretary of State is easy, and they’ll have the answers you need. Here’s how to go about it:
Visit Their Website
The Secretary of State website offers a lot of great information on not just registered agents, but the entire Colorado LLC formation process. You’ll likely find the answers you’re after on this helpful FAQ page.
Give Them a Call
If you’d prefer to call instead, reach out to their Denver office at (303) 894-2200.
Alternatively, you could reach out to Northwest Registered Agent (the best registered agent service in our opinion) via phone or email. They’re quick to respond and very knowledgeable.