LLCs are required to appoint a Washington registered agent in order to receive service of process and other important legal documents.
You can be your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to hire a third-party service to fulfill this requirement.
Professional services offer improved privacy and flexibility and can also go a long way in ensuring that you stay legally compliant.
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
In Washington, you are legally required to appoint a registered agent. This can be a registered agent service, a partner, or another individual, so long as they:
- Are 18 years old or older.
- Have a physical street address in Washington.
- Are always available during regular business hours at their designated office address
Registered Agent Services
- Convenience: Hiring a third-party service will ensure that you do not have to worry about missing an important notification or document and will allow you to be away from your business address during normal business hours.
- Privacy: Since your registered agent’s address and name will become publicly available, using a third-party service will protect your privacy as an owner.
- Compliance and Online Storage: Most third-party services tend to automatically scan all received documents and upload them online in PDF form.
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.
Being your own agent is generally reserved for the really small businesses that would struggle to pay the monthly fee of hiring a professional registered agent service (i.e., around $10 a month.).
Having said that, this is generally not recommended due to the fact that it’s a relatively time-inefficient approach, and it also does not protect owners’ privacy to the same extent that a third-party service does.
If you are forming a new LLC, it makes sense to hire an LLC formation service that includes a year-free registered agent option. Reputable services can charge as little as $29 for formation (plus state fees).
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 guide.
Best Washington Registered Agent Service
If you're in Washington 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 registered agent services below.
Top 5 Washington 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. 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 commercial 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 Washington Corporation Search. Using a third-party 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’s registered agents 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 third-party 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
This is also commonly known as the Articles of Organization outside of Washington and is the formation document that you need to file with the Washington Secretary of State in order to officially form your LLC.
Electing a Registered Agent Online
You can form your LLC online on the Washington Secretary of State website ($200 filing fee required). You’ll gain access to all the resources you need to appoint a registered agent and form your LLC online.
Electing a Registered Agent by Mail
To form your LLC by mail, download the Certificate of Formation form ($180 filing fee required), fill out the required fields, and submit a physical copy to the Washington Secretary of State. Your registered agent’s name and contact information will be requested in Section 5.
How to Change Your Registered Agent in Washington
To change your registered agent in Washington, you will need to fill out a Statement of Change form and submit it to the Office of the Secretary of State.
There is no filing fee, but a $50 expedited service is available.
This can be done online, by mail, or in person.
Mail or In Person:
Washington Office of the Secretary of State
Corporations and Charities Division
801 Capitol Way S.
Olympia, WA 98504-0234
Consent to Appointment
Your new registered agent also will need to consent to their appointment. They can do this by signing the change form.
For more information read our how to change registered agents in Washington guide.
Can I be my own registered agent in Washington?
Yes, you can, although this is seldom recommended.
This is because being your own agent is relatively time-consuming, and will not allow you to benefit from the same flexibility and privacy advantages of using a third-party service.
See our Washington Registered Agent article for more information.
Does Washington state require a registered agent for an LLC?
Washington registered agents are a legal requirement for all LLCs. This is because they act as your business’s primary point of contact with the Secretary of State, as well as with all other private entities.
Anyone can be an agent so long as they have a physical address in Washington, are available during normal business hours, and are over 18 years old.
How do I find a registered agent in Washington?
You can find a registered agent — also known as a statutory agent outside of Washington — through our review of the best registered agent services in 2023.
If you do not want to go with a third-party service, you will simply need to provide your agent’s details when you are filling out your Certificate of Formation.
Why do I need a registered agent in Washington state?
This will depend on your business entity.
Washington registered agents are required for LLCs and corporations but not for sole proprietorships or general partnerships.
For more information, we recommend having a look at our What Does a Registered Agent Do guide.
How much does a registered agent cost in Washington state?
This will depend on who your registered agent is; it can be yourself ($0), another partner ($0), or a third-party service (around $10 per month).
Having said that, you can also use an LLC formation service in order to get a third-party service free for the first year following your formation.
See our review of the Best Online Incorporation Services for more information.