If you operate a business entity in the United States, you are required by law to designate a registered agent for your company.
While this is a crucial aspect of any American business, some professional registered agent services can get to be quite expensive. In fact, one of the most common questions we hear from our readers is, “How can I get registered agent service for free?”
While nothing of value in the business world is ever truly free, there are several ways to get free registered agent service. Some of them may require the purchase of other business services, but we also know of a couple ways that you can get registered agent service that is actually 100% free of charge!
In this article, we’ll discuss the general guidelines for registered agent service, as well as some options for getting a free registered agent. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to get a registered agent for free, read on to discover how this can become a reality for your business!
What Is a Registered Agent?
If you want your business entity to remain in good standing with your state of formation, one of the crucial elements is to designate a registered agent. The registered agent can be either an individual person or a business entity, and either way their role is basically the same ― they receive your government-issued legal documents like service of process and compliance reminders, alert you of the delivery, and forward the documents to your business.
While the registered agent’s role might sound like a somewhat unnecessary middleman, in reality it’s actually vitally important. If your business didn’t have a registered agent, the state wouldn’t know how to reliably contact your company’s official representatives.
Especially in the case of a lawsuit against your business, it’s in your best interest to have a reliable registered agent available to accept delivery of a court summons. Otherwise, the lawsuit could actually progress without your knowledge, leaving you unable to defend yourself.
Who Can Legally Represent My Business as a Registered Agent?
Not every state has the exact same rules regarding registered agent eligibility, so we recommend double checking with your formation state to see if they have any specific requirements. For most states, these are the main regulations regarding who can legally serve as a company’s registered agent:
- Physical address must be located in the same state where the company transacts business
- Available for document deliveries during standard business operating hours Monday through Friday
- Registered agent must be 18 years old
Beyond these relatively basic guidelines, most states don’t have many restrictions on who is allowed to fill the role of registered agent.
How to Get a Free Registered Agent
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? The reason we’re here is to discuss your options for getting a free registered agent, and we actually did find a few different options for how you can do just that.
Serve as Your Own Registered Agent
The first option for free registered agent service is to simply designate yourself to fulfill this position. There’s no legal reason to not serve as your own registered agent, and there are a couple of solid reasons why it can be a reasonable solution.
First off, you won’t need to spend any money hiring a registered agent service. In addition to that aspect, it could actually be somewhat convenient, but only if you’re going to be physically present at your business every single weekday from 9am to 5pm.
In other words, if you plan on taking any vacations or sick days, this option is not for you. However, if you’re willing to commit to being there every day during all standard business hours ― or if the demands of your business require you to be there anyway ― why not kill two birds with one stone and act as your own registered agent?
There are many potential downsides to this option too, however. Obviously, it’s not ideal for anyone who can’t be present at their place of business every weekday for eight solid hours, as you won’t even be able to step out for lunch, due to the risk of missing an important document delivery.
Beyond that though, there’s also the risk of receiving service of process in front of your customers or employees, which is another major drawback. This might not be a problem for home-based businesses, although entrepreneurs who work from home probably won’t be too excited about the idea of making their home address a matter of public record, which you’ll need to do if you want to serve as your own registered agent.
Finally, if you serve as your own agent, you won’t be able to expand your business into any additional states beyond your primary state. Each state requires a registered agent who is physically located in that state, and since you obviously can’t be in two (or three, or four…) states at the same time, this is an impossibility for entrepreneurs who act as their own registered agents.
As you may have surmised from reading the name of their website, FreeRegisteredAgent.com provides a free year of registered agent service. FreeRegisteredAgent.com is part of the InCorp family, and InCorp is one of the best registered agent providers available online, so that’s certainly a strong point in their favor.
FreeRegisteredAgent.com offers business owners one full year of free registered agent service, as long as they aren’t already InCorp customers. After your first free year, you can continue this service for $99 per year, or if you find a lower price, InCorp will match it.
This service is a great way to get truly free registered agent service, and we highly recommend it for just about any business.
Free Registered Agent Service With Purchase of Business Formation
Do you still need to form your business, and you’d like the assistance of a professional business formation service to do so? There are some service providers who will give you a year of registered agent at no extra charge when you use their service to form your limited liability company or corporation.
As a matter of fact, our top two picks for the best LLC formation services both provide 12 months of registered agent service as a free bonus when you hire them to form your company, and it’s actually a major reason that they’re our top choices to begin with.
Northwest is a reliable and trustworthy company that specializes in LLC formations and top-notch registered agent service. For just $49, they’ll form your business with your state government, 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.
Incfile is another of our top picks, and their LLC formation price point is the exact same as Northwest’s, at $49. Also like Northwest, they’ll form your business and throw in a year of registered agent service. They don’t offer the same level of personalization for customer support as Northwest does, but Incfile counters that attribute with thousands of overwhelmingly positive customer reviews available online. If you want to continue receiving registered agent service from Incfile after the free 12 months, you can do so for an annual fee of $119.
It may be true that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but as it turns out, there actually is such a thing as free registered agents! Whether that means serving as your own agent, trying out FreeRegisteredAgent.com, or forming your business with Incfile or Northwest, there are several different routes you can take that all end up at the same destination, which is not paying for registered agent service.
In general, we don’t typically recommend serving as your own registered agent unless you’re okay with the many drawbacks of doing so. However, there’s certainly nothing stopping us from recommending the other options in this guide, as they’re all reputable and reliable services.
We hope this article helped you figure out the best route for your business to receive free registered agent service! No matter which option you choose, we hope your business future is bright.