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 New Jersey 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 New Jersey 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.
Special Offer: You can get a free registered agent service and have the LLC formation paperwork filed for you by hiring an online LLC service. While there are a lot of options available and LegalZoom is the most well known, two of the top options that offer excellent prices and features are IncFile and ZenBusiness.
What is a New Jersey Registered Agent & is it Necessary?
An LLC cannot be formed or do business in New Jersey without first having a registered agent on file with the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services. 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 consent to the appointment and meet the state’s agent requirements (see below)
As soon as they’re appointed, your registered agent must be consistently available in New Jersey to receive and act on mailed documents and service of process. Here’s what the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services specifically says:
New Jersey Statutes 15A:4-2 expands on these responsibilities:
On your end, make sure that your LLC maintains a valid registered agent at all times because the state will not hesitate to administratively dissolve your LLC if it goes 30 days without one.
What are the Requirements of a Registered Agent?
Registered agent is a flexible role, and New Jersey law leaves you a wide variety of options, but there are a few non-negotiable restrictions on who you can appoint. Your agent must:
- Be an individual New Jersey resident or a corporation authorized for business in New Jersey.
- Have a physical address in New Jersey (P.O. boxes not allowed)
- Have a mailing address in New Jersey (may be identical to the physical address)
- Be at least 18 years of age.
You can even take on the responsibilities yourself, as long as you feel good about the added responsibilities.
Registered agent information is a required section on the Certificate of Formation. Your filing won’t be complete without it. Here’s what you’ll see on the form:
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 New Jersey?
New Jersey’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 New Jersey 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 New Jersey or a foreign entity who has foreign qualified in New Jersey.
- 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 New Jersey, 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 New Jersey, 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
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 New Jersey 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 – $125 for the New Jersey LLC formation fee, plus a $49 or $79 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 New Jersey registered agent.
Make this change through the state’s business filing portal or by including it on your Annual Report. There is no hard copy filing option. Changing your agent online costs $25, and if you do so on your Annual Report, you’ll only need to pay the standard Annual Report fee of $50.
The most common catalyst for a registered agent change is a current agent’s resignation.
Fortunately, an agent’s departure will never leave you high and dry. This is because state law requires registered agents to notify their LLCs before resigning and stay onboard for 30 days after submitting their official notice. So, you’ll have plenty of time to find a replacement.
But don’t procrastinate! After the requisite 30-day window closes, you’ll be without an agent, and if your LLC goes more than 30 days without one, the state will administratively dissolve it.
Have Questions or Concerns?
This guide contains almost everything there is to know about New Jersey registered agents. However, you might have a unique situation that requires additional information. Reaching out to the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services is easy, and they’ll have the answers you need. Here’s how to go about it:
Visit Their Website
The Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services website and NJ Business Portal both offer plenty of information on the entire LLC formation process, including registered agents. You’ll likely find answers to your questions there.
Give Them a Call
If you’d prefer to speak with a person, you can also reach out to their Trenton office at (866) 534-7789.