If you’re starting a limited liability company (LLC), you’ll need to elect a registered agent.
Your Washington D.C. registered agent can be an individual — such as yourself — or a registered agent service. Services are affordable and can go a long way in:
- Improving your privacy and reducing risk
- Ensuring your documents are stored safely online
- Increasing flexibility
We’ll help you make the best choice for your business.
Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers free registered agent services with LLC or corporation formation ($29 plus state fees).
Choosing a Registered Agent in Washington D.C.
Your Washington D.C. registered agent will serve as your business’s point of contact with the district, and will also be responsible for receiving notice in the event of a pending lawsuit (i.e., service of process.).
Appointing an agent is a legal requirement in Washington D.C. for both LLCs and corporations. This can be a registered agent service or an individual.
Having said that, it is important to note that all prospective Washington D.C. registered agents will need to be satisfy the following requirements in order to be elected:
- Must be at least 18 years old.
- Must have a physical address within Washington D.C.
- Must be available during normal business hours at their registered office address.
Washington D.C. Registered Agent Services
- Convenience: Hiring a DC registered agent service will allow you to operate with more flexibility on a day-to-day basis (since you won’t be responsible for receiving service of process on behalf of your business).
- Privacy: If you work with a third-party service, your provider’s name and address will become publicly available (rather than your own). This is because your registered agent’s address and name will be searchable via a District of Columbia Business Entity Search.
- Compliance and Online Storage: Most registered agent services offer additional features that can help your business stay legally compliant (e.g., annual report reminders, online uploads of documents, etc.).
Let’s Find the Right Registered Agent for Your Business
We’ve tested and reviewed the most popular registered agent services
Can You Be Your Own Registered Agent?
Yes you can.
Having said that, this is generally not recommended due to its many drawbacks:
- You will be responsible for receiving service of process on behalf of your business, meaning that you will need to be physically present at your business address during regular business hours.
- You will be solely responsible for going through and storing all of the legal documents sent to you from the Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection; this can be quite time-consuming, and any errors can lead to your business facing penalties and/or fines.
- Acting as your own agent will not offer the same privacy protections as a third-party service (since your address and name will become publicly searchable).
If you are forming a new LLC, it makes sense to hire an LLC formation service that includes a free year of registered agent services. These can charge as little as $29 per formation — excluding state fees — and can ensure that your corporate filings do not get rejected.
If you are forming an LLC but prefer to file the paperwork yourself and act as your own registered agent, take a look at our How to Start an LLC in Washington D.C. guide.
Best Washington D.C. Registered Agent Service
If you're in Washington D.C. and either looking to form a new LLC or switch your existing registered agent, it's crucial to consider factors like cost, range of services, reputation, and customer support.
Many people seek registered agents offering features like mail forwarding, document scanning, and compliance monitoring.
Northwest Special Offer
If you haven't formed your LLC yet, consider Northwest's LLC formation package for $29 plus state fees, which includes a free first year of registered agent service.
- Premium customer service
- Streamlined ordering
- Robust privacy features
To help you make an informed choice, we've compiled a table comparing the top 5 Washington D.C. registered agent services below.
Top 5 Washington D.C. Registered Agent Services
BEST REGISTERED AGENT SERVICE
TRUSTED AND WELL-KNOWN COMPANY
Whether you're starting a new business or considering a change, it's crucial to weigh factors like pricing, services, reputation, and customer support when choosing a registered agent in Washington D.C. Compare quotes and read online reviews to find the best fit for your needs.
Benefits of Using a Registered Agent Service
Many businesses choose to use a registered agent service when they form an LLC. This is because it can offer a number of benefits, including:
- Legal compliance: A registered agent service will ensure that you do not miss an important legal document or notification (e.g., service of process, etc.) as a result of not being in your office (or as a result of a human error).
- Improved privacy: If you act as your own agent, your name and address will become public record on the District of Columbia Business Entity Search. Using a registered agent service will help keep your information private.
- Discretion: When it comes to legal disputes, you will want to avoid receiving lawsuit-related documents in front of your clients and/or some employees.
- Better storage: Your service will generally scan all documents received and upload them online in PDF form. This means that you will always be able to access them online, and won’t have to worry about an employee accidentally losing an important document.
A premium registered agent service can also be beneficial if you plan to expand into other states as a foreign LLC. This is because, otherwise, you would need to find an individual or business entity that is a resident — or is allowed to transact business — in each state that you want to register in.
How to Elect a Registered Agent in Washington D.C.
Electing a Registered Agent Online
You can form your LLC online at the DC.gov Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection website ($99 filing fee required). Your registered agent’s name and contact information will be requested when you file your LLC’s Articles of Organization under the registered agent section online:
Electing a Registered Agent by Mail
To form your LLC by mail, download the Articles of Organization ($99 filing fee required) form, fill out the required fields, and submit a physical copy to the District of Columbia Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection. You’ll be asked to provide your registered Agent’s information in the third section of page 2:
How Do I Change My Registered Agent In DC?
In order to appoint a new agent, you will need to submit a Statement of Change form with the Washington D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection.
This can be filed online or by mail and includes a $50 processing fee ($40 for nonprofit organizations).
Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection
P.O. Box 92300
Washington, DC 20090
For more information read our how to change registered agents in Washington D.C. guide.
Washington D.C. Registered Agent FAQs
Can I be my own registered agent in Washington D.C.?
Yes, you can, although this is generally not recommended.
This is because acting as your own agent will come with a certain degree of risk while at the same time not saving you a significant amount of capital (i.e., around $90 per year).
For more information, we recommend having a look at our Washington D.C. registered agent overview.
Does Washington D.C. require a registered agent?
It can do; this will ultimately depend on how your business is registered:
- Limited liability companies: Required
- Corporations: Required
- Sole proprietorships: Not required
- General partnerships: Not required
See our What is a Registered Agent article for more information.
How much is a registered agent in DC?
If you go with a District of Columbia registered agent service, you should expect to pay anywhere between $90 and $300 per year after the first year of your LLC’s formation.
You can also act as your own agent for free, although this is generally not recommended.
See our review of the best registered agent service in Washington D.C. for more information.
How do I find a registered agent in Washington D.C.?
You can find an agent for your business through our review of the five best registered agent services of 2023.
Our leading choices included Northwest, ZenBusiness, Incfile, Rocket Lawyer, and LegalZoom.
Alternatively, you can also act as your own agent by filling in your own details in your LLC’s Articles of Organization.
Who can serve as a registered agent in DC?
Anyone can be a registered agent — also known as a resident agent — as long as they are at least 18 years old, have a physical address in Washington D.C., and will always be available during regular working hours to receive service of process.
In practice, this can be you, a partner, or a third-party service provider.