Forming an LLC in Iowa is a big decision. Before filing the Certificate 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 an Iowa 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 Iowa.
In short, the registered agent assumes statutory responsibilities. They must agree to receive and deliver any official communications such as tax or legal documents from the state of Iowa to the LLC. Furthermore, the registered agent must be consistently available to carry out this responsibility without interruption.
Here’s what the Iowa Business Services Division of the Secretary of State specifically 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 Iowa or a corporation authorized for business in Iowa.
- The agent must have a physical address in Iowa.
- The agent must have a mailing address in
- An LLC cannot act as its own registered agent in Iowa. However, a member or manager can act as the registered agent for the LLC.
Unlike many other states, Iowa does not have a ready-made application form for the Certificate of Organization. The LLC organizer(s) is responsible for creating his or her own. The registered agent’s name and address must be listed on this document.
Who can be a Registered Agent in Iowa?
The Iowa 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 Iowa.
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 Certificate of Organization.
- 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 be an Iowa or foreign profit or nonprofit corporation. Registered agent services provide this type of assistance. The service’s name and address must be included on the Articles of Organization.
- 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!
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 Iowa 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 an Iowa 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 $50 Iowa 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 Iowa.
How to Change Your Iowa Registered Agent
If needed, you have two options for how to change your registered agent: by mail and online. If speed is your priority, filing online is the quickest method. Everything you need is on the Fast Track Filing portal. Click “Sign up” to create your account and follow the directions from there.
If you prefer to do all your business on paper, postal mail is also a reliable option. On the Secretary of State’s Forms and Fees page, find the Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent form under the Domestic Limited Liability Companies section (make sure you use the form from the right section!). Complete the form and send it to:
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
If you happen to live in Des Moines and you want to take it in yourself, you can also drop it off in person at the same address. There is no fee to file this form, regardless of which filing method you choose.
Your registered agent change may happen right around your Biennial Report filing period. If this is the case, you’re in luck! The state requires you to file your Biennial Report every two years anyway, so you can decrease your paperwork by making the change there. File your Biennial Report through the Fast Track Filing system. You’ll also have to pay a $45 fee.
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? Then you’re all set! Normally, the Secretary of State’s office take 2-3 days to process a registered agent change, so you should see it reflected in your records soon.
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 Business Services Division of the Iowa Secretary of State for more information about registered agents in the state of Iowa.
Give Them a Call
If you’d prefer to call, reach out to their Des Moines office at (515)281-5204.