Forming an LLC in Georgia is a big decision. Before filing the Articles of Organization, 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 a Georgia 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 Georgia.
In short, the registered agent assumes statutory responsibilities. He/she must agree to receive and deliver any official communications such as tax or legal documents from the state of Georgia to the LLC. Furthermore, the registered agent must be consistently available to carry out this responsibility without interruption.
Here’s what the Georgia Corporations Division says:
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 Georgia or a corporation authorized for business in Georgia.
- The agent must have a physical address in Georgia.
- The agent must have a mailing address in Georgia.
- An LLC cannot act as its own registered agent in Georgia. However, a member or manager can act as the registered agent for the LLC.
For reference, here is a screenshot of what information is required on the Georgia Transmittal Information Form (Filed with Articles of Organization application):
Who can be a Registered Agent in Georgia?
The Georgia 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 Georgia.
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 Transmittal Information Form.
- 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 quarrelling with Aunt Louise over a late or missing tax document worries you, a registered agent service may be a better option.
Registered Agent Service
If a service is acting as registered agent, it must include its name and address on the Transmittal Information Form.
- 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 Alaska. 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!
What if a Registered Agent Is Not Assigned or Maintained?
If an LLC does not assign or maintain a registered agent, the Georgia Secretary of State is designated as the registered agent. As such, the Secretary of State will accept any document, summons, or complaint but will not forward it to the designated entity.
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 Georgia 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 a Georgia 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 $100 Georgia 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 Georgia.
How to Change Your Georgia Registered Agent
Since the Annual Registration is the primary vehicle for LLC changes in Georgia, this is what you’ll need to change your registered agent. The state requires all LLCs to file an Annual Registration each year, but for changes that fall outside the January 1 – April 1 filing window, you’re welcome to file as many registrations as you’d like to make additional changes.
Filing online through the Secretary of State’s eCorp system is the only way to do it. But have no fear; the state provides a step-by-step set of instructions (with photos!) for how to file on eCorp. Follow that document exactly and you’ll have no issues. They even offer a mobile app for Apple and Android so you can make changes to your LLC on the go.
For quick reference, here’s the information you’ll need to have on hand:
- Your LLC name (or control number)
- Your name
- A valid email address
- The name and address of your new registered agent
- Principal Office mailing address
- Payment information
There is a $50 fee to file an Annual Registration. You’ll need to pay this fee each time you file a new form. Payment options include Visa, Mastercard, America Express, and Discover.
You cannot successfully change your registered agent by updating your Articles of Organization. Some states allow this, but the only option in Georgia is on your Annual Registration.
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? You’re good to go! Processing times for the Secretary of State are usually around 5-7 days, although they can increase as high as 12 during peak filing times. Or, you can pay an extra $50 fee for 2-day expedited processing.
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 website of the Georgia Corporations Division of the Secretary of State for more information about registered agents in the state of Georgia.
Give Them a Call
If you’d prefer to call, reach out to their Atlanta office at (404) 656-2817.