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 Maine requires consistent interaction with the state.
Formation documents, business information changes, lawsuits, professional licenses, and Annual 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 Maine 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 Certificate of Formation, you’ll need to have a designated registered agent. How? Why? Who? Read on to find out.
What is a Maine Registered Agent & is it Necessary?
An LLC cannot be formed or do business in Maine 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 they meet the state’s requirements (see below) and agree to the appointment.
As soon as they’re appointed, your registered agent must be consistently available in Maine to receive and act on mailed documents and service of process. Here’s how the Secretary of State website defines the role:
And the state’s Model Registered Agents Act provides a more comprehensive look at an agent’s duties:
Make sure you have a valid registered agent on file at all times, because the state isn’t messing around – they will administratively dissolve your LLC if you go more than 60 days without a valid agent.
What are the Requirements of a Registered Agent?
The state doesn’t place a ton of registered agent restrictions, but it doesn’t have a few non-negotiable requirements. Your LLC’s agent must:
- Be an individual Maine resident or a business entity authorized to do business in the state.
- Have a physical address in Maine (P.O. boxes are not allowed)
- Have a mailing address in Maine.
Any one of an LLC’s members or managers may serve as its registered agent, provided they meet these conditions. You can even appoint yourself. However, an LLC cannot be its own agent.
No matter who you choose, you must include your registered agent’s information on the Certificate of Formation. Here’s what you’ll see on the form:
You will notice that there’s a distinction between commercial and noncommercial registered agents. The difference is that commercial agents have filed a listing statement and published their information with the state, and noncommercial agents have not. Find a complete list of commercial agents here.
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 Maine?
Maine’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.
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 Maine 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 Maine or a foreign entity who has foreign qualified in Maine.
- 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 Maine, 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 Maine, 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 Maine
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 Maine LLC. In addition to taking care of your Certificate of Formation 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 – $175 for the Maine 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 Maine registered agent.
Changing your agent might be a melancholy occasion, but at least the state makes it simple. You just need to submit the appropriate form. There are two different forms, so make sure that you use the correct one. If your replacement is a commercial agent, use this form, and if you’re appointing a noncommercial agent, this one. When you’re finished, mail your form to:
Secretary of State
Division of Corporations, UCC, and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0101
Both the commercial and noncommercial agent forms cost $35, payable by check or credit card. If you choose to pay via card, include a Credit Card Payment Voucher.
There are plenty of reasons to change your registered agent, but the most common is a current agent’s resignation.
In Maine, registered agents aren’t required to inform their LLCs before departing. But don’t worry, you won’t be caught off guard, because after submitting an official resignation, an agent must retain his or her duties for 31 days. This gives you ample time to line up a successor.
Still, you don’t want to put it off, because the state takes registered agents seriously. Your LLC will be administratively dissolved if it spends more than 60 days without an agent.
Have Questions or Concerns?
This guide contains almost everything there is to know about Maine registered agents. However, you might have a unique situation that requires additional information. Reaching out to the Maine Secretary of State is easy, and they’ll have the answers you need. Here’s how to go about it:
Visit Their Website
The Maine Bureau for Corporations, Elections and Commissions contains a lot more information and can be a helpful tool in finding answers to your LLC formation questions.
Give Them a Call
Or, if you’d prefer to chat on the phone, reach out to their Augusta office at (207) 624-7736.
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.