Starting a business often involves many responsibilities, and one requirement a company may face is appointing a registered agent.

A registered agent is an essential point of communication between a business entity and government agencies, ensuring the timely receipt of legal notices, tax documents, and other critical mail.

In many cases, businesses are legally obliged to have a registered agent when registering their companies with the state.

The cost of appointing a registered agent varies depending on the registered agent service provider, but fees can generally range from $50 to $300 per year.

Business owners who wish to ensure their company remains compliant with state requirements must evaluate the costs and potential long-term benefits of securing a registered agent service.

As startups and small businesses navigate the complex world of legal compliance, a registered agent can serve as a crucial asset in maintaining good standing with government authorities.

What is a registered agent?


A registered agent (RA) is a designated individual or organization responsible for receiving legal documents, notices, and correspondence on behalf of a business entity, such as an LLC or corporation.

The role of the RA is crucial because it ensures that the business remains in compliance with state regulations and maintains its good standing.


Registered agents are required to have a physical address in the state where the business is registered.

This makes it easier for the state or courts to deliver essential documents without delay.

Some of the key responsibilities of an RA include:

  • Receiving and forwarding legal documents, such as lawsuits and subpoenas, to business owners.

  • Accepting and handling important correspondence from the Secretary of State or other regulatory agencies regarding taxes, fees, or regulatory matters.

  • Ensuring that the business complies with state filing requirements, such as submitting annual reports or updating registration information as needed.

Service of process

After registering an address, one of the primary reasons for having a registered agent is to facilitate the service of process.

Service of process refers to the delivery of legal documents, such as summons, complaints, and subpoenas, which notify a business or individual of their involvement in a legal proceeding.

Registered agents play a crucial role in this process by acting as a reliable point of contact for delivering such documents to the business owners.

This is particularly important when dealing with time-sensitive matters, as the RA ensures that the necessary papers reach the respective parties promptly.

Overall, registered agents help businesses maintain compliance with state regulations and serve as a dependable link between the entity and the authorities.

Their role in facilitating the service of process ensures the proper handling of legal matters and helps businesses stay up-to-date with their regulatory obligations.

What is a Registered Agent? – How to Start an LLC by How to Start an LLC

Reasons to hire a registered agent

registered agent is essential for maintaining legal compliance in the operation of a business entity.

It is a requirement in most states for businesses to have a registered agent available to receive legal notices during regular business hours.

Failing to appoint a registered agent can result in penalties and might even lead to the dissolution of the business.

Hiring a registered agent service ensures the continuity of operations and protects the business from possible litigation or legal issues related to non-compliance.

Privacy and anonymity

Hiring a registered agent can provide privacy and anonymity benefits for the owner(s) of a business.

Since the registered agent’s address is listed on public records, business owners can keep their personal information private by utilizing the registered agent’s address as the official point of contact.

This is particularly important for businesses that want to minimize the chance of their owners being personally targeted with legal papers, junk mail, or other unwanted solicitations.

Also, a registered agent can help maintain attorney-client privilege, adding an additional layer of legal protection.

Efficient document management

A professional registered agent service can assist businesses in efficiently managing legal documents, official notices, and communications.

They are responsible for timely handling and forwarding any legal papers, correspondence, or official mail to the business entity.

By using a dedicated registered agent service, businesses can streamline their document management and ensure that important legal notices are delivered and dealt with promptly.

Additionally, having an experienced team of professionals managing these tasks can help avoid potential pitfalls, which might occur when relying solely on an employee or inexperienced individual.

Overall, hiring a registered agent is a worthwhile investment for businesses seeking legal compliance, privacy and anonymity, and efficient document management.

Types of registered agent services

There are two main types of registered agent services: DIY Registered Agent and Professional Registered Agent Services.

Each has its benefits and drawbacks depending on the needs of the business entity, such as an LLC, corporation, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, general partnership, or limited liability limited partnership.

1. DIY registered agent

In some cases, business owners might choose to act as their own registered agent.

This could be a viable option for those who have experience navigating legal documentation and requirements.

However, it’s essential to consider that being a DIY registered agent requires being available during standard business hours to receive essential legal documents, which may be challenging for some small business owners.

When acting as a DIY registered agent, the owner must be knowledgeable about the regulations and requirements specific to their entity type, be it an LLC, corporation, or any form of partnership.

Additionally, the owner must ensure that the registered agent’s address is up-to-date, keeping in mind that a change of address requires filing with the state’s Secretary of State office.

2. Professional registered agent services

For those who prefer to delegate the responsibilities and complexities of serving as a registered agent, professional registered agent services are available.

These services provide a reliable third party to accept and manage important legal documents for the business entity.

They typically offer various features tailored to different types of business entities though, ensuring that the needs of LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and other structures are met.

Professional registered agent services often have a dedicated team with experience in meeting the requirements for specific entity types.

They can save time and prevent potential issues that may arise from missing deadlines or submitting incorrect documentation.

Business owners should expect to pay annual fees for these services, which can range from about $50 to $300 per year.

By outsourcing the registered agent role to a professional service, business owners can focus on their core operations, knowing that they have a competent third party managing their essential legal requirements.

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How much does a registered agent cost?

Pricing factors

The cost of a registered agent varies depending on several factors.

Typically, an annual fee for a professional registered agent service ranges between $50 and $300 per year.

The variation in price can be attributed to factors such as the level of service provided, additional features offered, and if the registered agent service includes formation packages for LLCs, corporations, or other businesses.

Level of service and features

Some registered agent services such as ZenBusiness offer different tiers of pricing, with costs of $99 and $149 a year depending on the specific services required.

Bundles and packages

In addition, registered agent services may be bundled with business formation or LLC formation packages, which can affect the overall cost.


It is essential to consider the registered agent’s experience, reputation, and efficiency in handling annual reports, government correspondence, and meeting deadlines.

A reliable registered agent service will have a physical business address throughout, be available during normal business hours, and promptly manage your business’s documents and compliance requirements.

Comparing registered agent services

When comparing registered agent services, it’s crucial to evaluate several factors beyond the price. These factors include:

  • Coverage in different states: Some registered agent services, like Incfile and Northwest, operate in all 50 states. This can be an advantage if your business operates or plans to expand across different states.

  • Formation packages: Some registered agent services may offer an inclusive package that bundles business formation, LLC formation, or other services along with their registered agent services. These bundled packages can save money and simplify the process of setting up and maintaining your business.

  • Managing taxes and compliance: A quality registered agent service should be able to assist you with managing tax deadlines, annual reports, and government correspondence, ensuring that your business remains compliant with legally required filings and submissions.

  • Physical address and business hours: Your registered agent must have a physical address where they can receive legal documents and correspondence during normal business hours, as required by law.

In summary, when selecting a registered agent, it’s essential to weigh all the factors, services offered, and your business needs.

Comparing prices and features between different registered agent services can help you find the most suitable option for your company to maintain compliance and meet legal requirements for a reasonable annual fee.

Best registered agent services


LegalZoom offers registered agent services for businesses in all 50 states.

They charge $299 per year, per state. LegalZoom is known for its wide range of business and legal services around, making it a one-stop-shop for businesses seeking various legal support.

Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer is another popular registered agent service provider.

They have a strong reputation for providing quality services and customer support.

They offer registered agent services as part of their premium membership package, which includes access to various legal documents and services.


ZenBusiness is another highly recommended registered agent service that is recognized for its excellent customer service and is considered the best choice for businesses that value a personalized experience.

They provide reliable registered agent services for companies in all states, ensuring that businesses meet their legal requirements.

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent stands out for its personal touch in providing registered agent services.

They charge an affordable $125 per year, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious businesses.

Their expertise in the field has earned them a positive reputation among clients.


Incfile provides a free year of registered agent services with LLC formation, making them an exceptional choice for startups.

After the first free year, Incfile’s fees are quite competitive at $119 per year.

They offer services in all 50 states and have a strong online presence, including positive reviews on Trustpilot.

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Shoeboxed’s MailMate home page

While they are not as well-known as some of the other options mentioned, they do offer service packages that may suit specific business needs.

Further research into their offerings is recommended for businesses considering Shoeboxed for their registered agent services.

How to switch and find a new registered agent

Switching your registered agent

Switching a registered agent can be necessary if entrepreneurs decide to use a different service or if their current agent is no longer available.


The process for changing a former registered agent address varies from state to state, and some states may charge a small fee for making the change.

Factors to consider

Before switching, consider factors such as the agent’s ability to handle legal correspondence, their street address, and whether they offer additional services like compliance calendar reminders or annual report notices.

When selecting a new agent, it’s essential to choose an experienced and reliable company, especially for businesses operating in multiple states.

Searching for the best registered agent service

Finding the best registered agent service may take some time and research since registered agent services vary, but it’s crucial for entrepreneurs, attorneys, and other professionals who rely on agents to maintain their business’ legal standing.

Annual fees for a registered agent service average between $50 and $300 per year.

Many registered agent services operate in all 50 states, offering comprehensive services for limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and other entities.

Consider the following factors when searching for the best registered agent service:

  • Cost: Compare the cost of registered agent services based on the level of service and support provided. Some companies offer more comprehensive services at a higher cost, while others may provide only basic services at a lower price.

  • Customer support: Look for companies with excellent customer support, as this can be critical when dealing with time-sensitive legal matters or state renewals.

  • Reliability: Ensure that the registered agent service has a track record of reliability and successfully managing their clients’ legal correspondences and filings.

  • Services: Evaluate if the agent provides additional services such as mail forwarding, cloud storage, and compliance calendar management. These services may provide more value and peace of mind for the business owner.

  • Recommendations: Seek recommendations from other entrepreneurs in the industry or from trusted professionals like attorneys, as they are likely familiar with reputable registered agent providers based on their experience.

Keep in mind that not every registered agent service is suitable for every type of business.

For instance, some businesses may use a family member or an internal officer as their registered agent.

However, this may not be appropriate for all companies, especially those with properties in multiple states or those that require a certain level of professionalism and expertise.

It’s essential to carefully consider your options and weigh the benefits of each registered agent service before making a decision.

By taking the time to find the right agent, you can ensure that your business remains compliant and secure throughout its lifespan.

Frequently asked questions

How much does a registered agent cost?

The cost of a registered agent varies from company to company, but it generally ranges from $99 to $300 a year. Some companies might offer a lower introductory fee for the first year or bundle registered agent services with business formation and other services. When you go to purchase registered agent services, be sure to compare prices and services to find the best fit for your needs.

Can I be my own registered agent?

Yes, you can act as your own registered agent; however, there are certain requirements you must meet. To be your own registered agent, you must be a resident of the state where your business is located, have a physical address in that state, and be available during regular business hours to receive important or sensitive documents here.

What do registered agents do?

Registered agents receive and manage legal documents for your business, including service of process, tax notices, and annual report filings. They ensure that your company remains in compliance with state laws and requirements by receiving crucial mail on your behalf.

Why do I need a registered agent?

They play a vital role in ensuring that your company stays in good standing and maintains its compliance by handling official government documents and acting as a point of contact between your business and the state government.

What if I don’t have a registered agent?

Failure to maintain a registered agent can lead to serious consequences for your business, such as fines, penalties, or even admin dissolution – in which the state dissolves your company due to noncompliance. Therefore, it is crucial to have a registered agent to avoid these issues and maintain your business’s good standing.

In closing

A registered agent is an essential component of any business, providing a reliable point of contact for the state and handling services on behalf of the company.

The cost of hiring a registered agent can vary, with fees typically ranging from $99 to $300 a year, depending on the company and specific services offered.

Business owners may find that investing in a registered agent can save their company time and potentially avoid legal complications.

These agents are responsible for accepting service of process and other important business documents, ensuring that the business remains compliant with state regulations and requirements.

Some companies might offer additional filing, business formation, and other relevant services for extra fees, which can be beneficial for businesses looking to streamline their operations.

It is important to research and compare various, top registered agent services and service providers to find the one that best suits the needs and budget of a given business.

In the event of a registered agent resignation, businesses must act quickly to replace them to avoid potential complications regarding legal processes and communication with the state.

Overall, the importance of having a registered agent cannot be underestimated, and the fees associated with registered agent service providers can be considered a worthwhile investment for businesses looking to maintain compliance and smooth operations.

Caryl Ramsey has years of experience assisting in different aspects of bookkeeping, taxes, and customer service. She uses a variety of accounting software for setting up client information, reconciling accounts, coding expenses, running financial reports, and preparing tax returns. She is also experienced in setting up corporations with the State Corporation Commission and the IRS.

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