Should You Use a Registered Agent Service?
Hiring someone else to serve as your registered agent has its benefits, like privacy, flexibility, and document storage. But, you can save an average of $10 per month if you act as your own.
In this article, we compare the advantages of using a registered agent service provider vs. being your own.
Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers free registered agent services with LLC or corporation formation ($29 plus state fees).
Benefits of Using a Registered Agent Service
When you form an LLC or corporation, you'll need to designate a registered agent.
Hiring a professional service offers a number of benefits, like peace of mind, privacy, and the ability to focus more energy on growing your business.
Compliance with the Law
Registered agent services help businesses stay up-to-date on state requirements by sending regular reminders for filings. As a result, you are far less likely to face legal and financial consequences — or worse, lose your business altogether. If you use a professional service, they can:
- Help you find state-specific accountants and legal professionals. Most businesses need accounting or legal assistance at some point during their formation.
- Keep copies of your corporate documents. In case of theft, natural disaster, or other unexpected losses, you will have a backup of all your important business papers.
Peace of Mind
A registered agent service gives you peace of mind so you can focus your time, energy, and attention on running your business. Here’s what a professional service can do to ease your stress:
- Make growing your business the number one priority. Important LLC documents will be automatically received and stored for safekeeping.
- Help maintain your work-life balance. Business and personal mail are kept separate, preventing your work from overtaking your home life.
- Offer personal guidance. You have additional support if your business runs into a problem or if any questions arise.
If you choose to act as your own registered agent, you will need to be available to receive official notices during standard business hours at the address you provide. A professional service gives you the flexibility to focus on your business instead of keeping track of deadlines and being available during business hours.
With a professional service, you can:
- Maintain flexible business hours. Your agent must be available from 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. every weekday. By hiring a professional service, you can choose your own hours.
- Form an LLC in another state. Your agent must have a legal residence in the state where the business is formed. Hiring a national professional service will let you form an LLC in any of the 50 states.
- Form an LLC in multiple states. If you set up your business to have a physical presence in multiple states, you will need to have an appointed agent for each state.
We all value our privacy. Your registered agent service’s address will be listed on the public record— not your personal or office address. This is especially important to consider if your business operates out of your home. A registered agent service will maintain your privacy by:
- Preventing you from being served with a lawsuit in person. You don’t want to get served in front of your family, employees, or worse, your customers.
- Having their address public instead of yours. As a result, you’re less likely to receive unsolicited mail.
Should You Be Your Own Registered Agent?
Technically you can be your own registered agent, but most businesses elect to hire a service for several reasons.
The main upside to being your own agent is the cost savings. The average service charges about $130 per year, or about $10 per month. By acting as your own registered agent, you can allocate the $10 elsewhere. Regardless, you need a registered agent.
The cost savings should be balanced against the drawbacks:
- You will be legally required to be present at the provided address during normal business hours to receive service of process.
- It can be a time-consuming endeavor to keep up with the necessary paperwork
- The potential for errors or delays in completing the required paperwork could cause you legal liability for any resulting fines or penalties.
- You may not have access to the same resources that would otherwise be available to an outside service.
If you are forming a new LLC, it makes sense to hire a formation service that includes a free year of registered agent services.
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 guides.
How To Choose a Registered Agent Service
In addition to having an office in the state of your LLC, we encourage you to find a national registered agent service with the following features:
- Compliance management: reminders for filing annual reports and other important deadlines
- Document management: local scanning of all official documents so you can access them from your online account
- Availability: a reliable customer service team who can answer any questions you may have
- Thorough coverage: the ability to provide registered agent services in all 50 states
Recommended Registered Agent Services
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest is the best registered agent service based on overall quality and transparent pricing. Northwest offers a seamless user experience and best-in-industry customer service and privacy protection.
When you choose Northwest as your registered agent service, you'll get an online account to access essential documents, mail forwarding, and business address services.
Northwest’s virtual mailbox service will scan your mail and forward it to you electronically. This means that you can keep track of your mail no matter where you are in the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
We recommend using a professional service as your registered agent for an LLC (and all other business entities that require a registered agent). This allows business owners the flexibility to leave the registered address during regular business hours, and the service itself is relatively affordable.
It is possible to be your own registered agent. You could also choose to elect a member of your LLC, or even a friend you trust, as long as the person meets these requirements:
- is 18 years or older
- has a physical address in the state where the business is conducted
- is available during normal business hours
Anyone can be a registered agent as long as the assigned person or entity is available on weekdays, during regular business hours (8 am- 5 pm), and at the given registered agent address. This is important in case of a lawsuit and to remain compliant with legal forms and deadlines.
Although you can be your own registered agent, we recommend you consider hiring an experienced and reliable registered agent service like ZenBusiness, Incfile, or Northwest to handle this portion of your business needs.
When a business owner forms a business entity, they might be asked whether they are electing a commercial or noncommercial registered agent. Some states refer to professional agents as commercial agents and individual agents as noncommercial.