How to Find a Registered Agent in Maryland (Step-by-Step Guide)
Recommended Maryland registered agent services
Maryland registered agent requirements
You may be wondering who can be a registered agent in Maryland. As is the case in most states, Maryland allows individuals and companies to be listed as registered agents. There are very few requirements for this position.
Being your own registered agent
First, the individual needs to be 18 years old or older. Whether you choose an individual or a company to be your registered agent, they need to have a physical street address in the state of Maryland as well. P.O. boxes won’t work. Resident agents cannot list a P.O. box as their official address.
If you plan to have an individual be your registered agent, they must be a resident of Maryland State.
Hiring a registered agent service
If your registered agent is going to be a business, they need to be registered to do business in the Maryland State.
Lastly, it is critical that your registered agent be at their registered agent address throughout the week during regular business hours. This is so that they are always available during the day to receive important information on your behalf from the state, the court, or the public.
Why use a registered agent service
Many small business owners in Maryland are tempted by the idea of appointing themselves as their own registered agents. After all, it costs nothing, and you’re the one who ultimately needs to handle important documents and official correspondence for your corporation anyway. Why not cut out the middle man? The job might not seem so difficult.
In fact, however, being a registered agent comes with more responsibility than you may have anticipated. Most notably, as a registered agent, you need to be present during normal business hours throughout the entire week at one single address — whether you expect to receive important mail there or not.
Furthermore, as your business grows, your responsibilities as registered agent grow. There may come a time when you’d need to either shirk your business duties or delegate your registered agent responsibilities to a professional company. Naturally, smart business owners would choose the latter.
This is why, as a general rule, it is wiser to choose a Maryland registered agent company from the get-go. Here are a few other reasons:
Company owners who choose to be their own registered agents will often need to use their home address, which means their home address would be on the public record. Anyone who searched their company would be able to find out where they lived.
When you appoint a registered agent company to be your registered agent, you’ll use their registered office address. This means it will be their business address that is on the public record, and you can keep your private life private.
It is the job of your registered agent to keep your business in good standing and compliant with the Maryland Secretary of State. That way, you won’t miss important filing deadlines or have to pay any fines or unnecessary fees.
Avoidance of fees
If you need to change your registered agent and are shifting to using a company as your registered agent, they will often perform the change of agent filing for you and pay the fee as well.
More flexible hours
When you don’t have to be at one physical address all week to handle incoming legal documents, you’re free to spend your time as you choose.
Maryland registered agent costs
As you plan your business expenses for the year, it’s important to allocate money for your registered agent.
Registered agent companies charge by the year with an annual fee in most cases. This fee is generally between $50 and $300.
For those business owners who want to act as their own registered agents, there are no fees. The same goes for if you decide to have one of your employees or an attorney be your registered agent.
As you search for a quality registered agent for your business, be sure to consider whether you want to include additional services. If you only want basic registered agent services, for example, you can expect to pay a lower price.
For extras such as due date reminders for filing Annual Reports and paying taxes, you should expect to pay more. These days, most registered agents offer an online account to their clients with basic services. This is an easy way to organize your documents and get important information and legal notifications right away.
How to change a registered agent in Maryland
Companies may need to change their registered agents from time to time, and in Maryland, the process is simple. Follow the steps below.
- Go to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT), Charter Division and obtain the form necessary for changing your registered agent. This form is called a Change Resident Agent form in Maryland.
- Completely fill out the form. Be sure to include precise contact information for whoever your new resident agent will be.
- Submit the form to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT), Charter Division. Include the necessary filing fee, which can be paid by credit card. If you need to make this change quickly, there is an expedited request option.
While filing your change of resident agent paperwork in Maryland is relatively simple, it can still be a hassle. To make the process easier, ask your new resident agent whether they can take care of this filing for you. They may even cover the fee.
Why you need a registered agent
If you have an LLC (limited liability company) or corporation in the state of Maryland, you will need to have a registered agent. Some states call a registered agent a resident agent or a statutory agent. All of these terms mean the same thing.
Your registered agent will be tasked with receiving service of process, important tax documents from the government, and other state and official correspondence for your business. They will file, organize, and forward these documents to you.
Most of the documents registered agents accept are of an urgent or official nature and require you to act on them immediately. Therefore, the best registered agents will get your documents to you right away so that you can take action as soon as possible.
Registered agents can be individuals. Registered agents can also be companies. Who you choose to be your registered agent will largely depend on what types of services you hope to use, how large your company is, and where your company is registered to conduct business (in what states).
When you need a registered agent
You must choose your registered agent when incorporating your business and preparing your formation documents. The incorporation process in Maryland is not difficult in most cases.
Your first task will be to select what your business name will be. Be sure to follow business naming guidelines in Maryland.
For example, you cannot mislead the public in any way with your business name. You also have to have a name that no one else has. The Maryland Secretary of State website has a business entity search page. There, you can look up the names you are considering for your business and make sure that they are free.
After naming your business, it’s time to choose your registered agent and put their contact information on your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization. This document is the most important document for you as you incorporate your business in Maryland. You will submit this document to the Secretary of State of Maryland and wait for approval of your business’s incorporation.
Other steps will be necessary to complete this process as well, including obtaining your EIN or employer identification number.
The forms and links found below can help you navigate the incorporation process and find a registered agent in Maryland.
How does a Maryland registered agent work?
A registered agent must be designated for every Maryland LLC and corporation. They are tasked with receiving official correspondence from the government, service of process documents, and other important mail for your business. They will receive these documents and paperwork and forward them to you. Some registered agents provide additional services as well.
How much does a registered agent cost in Maryland?
If you decide to hire a registered agent company, they will likely charge you annually. Most registered agent companies cost somewhere between $100 and $300 for their annual services. If you’re just starting out, you may be able to find a more inexpensive option, and there are also more expensive options for bigger businesses that want more bells and whistles.
If I don’t have a registered agent can I still be sued?
Yes. By law, all Maryland businesses need to have a registered agent listed in their Articles of Incorporation. If you don’t have a registered agent, you won’t be able to get your corporation or LLC approved in the first place. If you fail to retain your registered agent, you will likely face a cascade of legal problems.
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