What is a registered agent?
A registered agent receives your legal and tax documents on behalf of your business, whether it’s structured as a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or limited partnership. As with most states, you must have a registered agent with a physical Washington State Address in Washington state when you establish your LLC. The agent can be a colleague, a professional, or even yourself, but you must meet the state’s requirements. This article will cover registered agents in Washington.
What responsibilities do registered agents have?
Other than receiving official mail for your business, the primary role of your agent is to assist your business in maintaining corporate compliance with state and federal regulations. They do this by sending any legal notices or sending reminders to file an annual report. Only a handful of states exempt businesses from annual or biennial reports. This does not include Washington. An LLC annual report provides general information on company facts, including the names and addresses of your registered agent, directors, and managers. It also contains information about the company’s activities throughout the previous year. It is essential to stay on top of these state filing deadlines to avoid receiving fines and penalties. A list of general responsibilities of registered agents are listed below.
- Filing tax forms
- Receiving and submitting legal documents
- Performing official government correspondence (examples include annual reports)
- Notify business of any lawsuit placed against them
So, in summary, a registered agent acts as a gatekeeper for your company so that you can take prompt and appropriate action to resolve any issues on time.
Can I list myself as the registered agent?
You most certainly can list yourself as the registered agent for your company. You may also select an officer, business colleague, or trusted friend. However, they must meet the following registered agent requirements:
- At least 18 years of age
- Physical address in Washington State
- Available during normal business hours
You can also utilize a professional registered agent service in Washington.
What are the benefits of a registered agent service?
There are several advantages to designating a professional service as your registered agent. These benefits include ensuring compliance with the law, reducing stress, and improving flexibility and privacy. Several affordable options are available in Washington state to fit your business’s budget.
State law compliance
Registered agents help keep you updated on any of Washington state’s requirements by providing you with regular reminders and assistance with filing certain legal documents such as annual report filings. They also maintain your corporate document files so that you will have extra copies of any of your essential business and legal documents in the case of a natural disaster, theft, or other unexpected circumstances.
Hiring a professional as your registered agent can save significant amounts of time, energy, and attention. Instead, you can use this time and energy to operate your business. Professional registered agent services help you maintain your work-life balance as well. If you put yourself down as the registered agent, you must also put down your address. This can mix your business and personal mail together. Having a registered agent instead sort your business mail will prevent this. With this additional assistance, you will also save time to spend on your personal life. They will also offer any personal guidance and advice if your business runs into any issues or if you have any questions.
When you put yourself down as the registered agent, you need to be available to receive any official government correspondence and documents at the address you provided during typical business hours. Having a designated registered agent will provide flexibility to focus on business operations during the day. Registered agents will instead be responsible for keeping track of deadlines and being available for any service of process notices that may come through.
The address is on public record when you put down a registered agent. You and anyone can easily search for this information through the Washington business search found here. If you utilize a registered agent service, their physical address will be listed on public record rather than your own. This can be particularly helpful for businesses operating from an owner’s personal home. The registered agent service also receives any lawsuits. Alternatively, if you list yourself as a registered agent with your personal home address, you may risk receiving a summons in front of family, friends, customers, or employees.
How much does it cost to hire a registered agent?
Registered agent services can vary widely depending on the services they provide. In Washington, they cost approximately $50 to $300 per year. The cost may be well worth considering the time you save.
How do I choose a registered agent service?
First and foremost, ensure that the registered agent is a legitimate office in Washington state. Some features you may want to consider include the following:
- Management of compliance: having a registered agent that provides reminders of when to file certain legal documents can be advantageous for the above reasons.
- Organization of legal documents: Receiving, organizing, and scanning documents for your business can help you quickly access them online when necessary.
- Readily available: A registered agent service is ideally readily available for any concerns or questions you may have. Check to see that they have reliable customer service that can speak to you online or through the phone.
- Good coverage: You may want a registered agent that can provide services across several states so that the transition can be smoother if your business expands.
How do I change my registered agent?
You can change your registered agent with your Washington LLC by filing a statement of change with the Washington Secretary of State. The link can be found here. The service is free, and you can also update the registered agent information when you submit your annual report.