How to find a registered agent in Rhode Island
Rhode Island registered agent requirements
All registered agents need to meet certain requirements in order to be accepted as official registered agents in the State of Rhode Island.
Being your own registered agent
For starters, if you would like to act as your own registered agent (or appoint another individual), you need to have a physical street address in the State of Rhode Island.
This street address needs to be where you will be located during normal business hours from Monday through Friday, so that you can receive service of process, tax notifications, and other legal notices on behalf of your business. This street address also needs to be a physical address and not a P.O. box address.
Hiring a registered agent service
The same requirements are necessary for registered agent companies as well. In addition, registered agent companies need to be registered to do business in Rhode Island, and individuals need to be official residents of Rhode Island. Individual registered agents also need to be at least 18 or older in order to act as registered agents.
Of course, any registered agent needs to accept the appointment and accept being listed as a registered agent on your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization formation documents.
Recommended registered agent services
Why you need a registered agent
If you plan to incorporate your company in Rhode Island, you must know about the role of registered agent. This position may also be called resident agent or statutory agent. According to the state law in Rhode Island, all limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations need to have a designated registered agent.
Your company’s registered agent will be the most important point of contact for your business. This is especially true when it comes to receiving critical legal documents and official correspondence from the state. This includes service of process and other legal notices. Officially, your business’s address will be your registered agent’s address.
To this address will be where the state, the courts, and other entities direct any important correspondence. Once received, your registered agent will forward important notifications and documents to you in a timely manner. Those that are time-sensitive must be acted upon right away.
When you need a registered agent
You will typically fill out who your registered agent will be when completing your Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation. This step will come after you have chosen a new business name for your LLC (limited liability company) or corporation.
Choosing a business name is generally the first step of the incorporation process. When making this important decision, you will need to follow the strict business naming guidelines put out by the Rhode Island Secretary of State. One of these guidelines states that you must not choose a business name that another registered business already has. Therefore, you will need to conduct the necessary business name searches to ensure that your new company name is unique.
Other essential steps during the incorporation process include appointing a board of directors, holding your first board meeting, opening the necessary business bank accounts, organizing your corporate bylaws, issuing stock, and obtaining an employer identification number or EIN.
Why use a registered agent service
Whether you have a small business or a large company, in order to be in good standing with the state, all Rhode Island LLCs and corporations need a registered agent with an in-state business address.
For most companies in Rhode Island, going with a registered agent company is best. Here’s why:
When you choose to use a service instead of being your own agent, you can use the service’s office address instead of your own home address. This means that if you are ever served with legal papers, law enforcement wouldn’t show up to your home to serve your papers, and they wouldn’t show up at your storefront either. Furthermore, your home address wouldn’t have to be on public record.
More time to focus on growing your company
When it comes to your time as a business owner, you want to be free to take business meetings, check on daily operations, and seek new opportunities as they present themselves. You don’t want to be tied down to a desk all day.
Unfortunately, that’s just what you’d need to do if you acted as your own registered agent because the registered agent must be reliably at the registered address during regular weekly business hours.
A seamless transition to out-of-state business growth
Lastly, most businesses hope to someday grow and offer their goods or services out-of-state. If this is your dream, incorporating your business in other states will be far easier when working with a company that has registered agent offices in numerous states.
Rhode Island registered agent costs
If you decide to be your own registered agent and list yourself on your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization, you won’t need to budget anything for this service unless you plan on paying yourself to fulfill the position. Registered agent services, on the other hand, will charge a fee, and this is generally charged by the year.
The majority of registered agents cost anywhere from $50 to $300 a year. On the higher end of these fees, many companies will offer additional services. For example, they may make same-day filings available.
They may also provide incorporation (business formation) services if you are just starting out. Or, they will help you with other filings — notifying you of your Annual Report and tax payment due dates, for instance. As a rule, most commercial registered agent companies offer their clients an online account for easy access to business filings and new notifications.
If you would like to hire a registered agent company but don’t want to pay for these extras, you can always find a company who will charge a lower price for basic services.
How to change your Rhode Island registered agent
Do you need to change who your registered agent is in Rhode Island? If so, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork and pay a fee to the Rhode Island Secretary of State.
If you’re interested in having your new registered agent perform this filing for you, contact them and see if this is a service they offer. Often, commercial registered agent companies will perform the change of agent paperwork on behalf of their clients, and they will usually pay the fee as well.
If you want to change your Rhode Island registered agent yourself, perform the following steps:
Tell your registered agent that you are changing registered agents. They’ll need to know and perform some paperwork, and you will want to obtain any business documents they may still have in their possession for your own files.
Collect all of the information you’ll need for the filing. You’ll need your business name and address, your current registered agent’s name and address, and your new registered agent’s name and address.
Get the necessary paperwork from the Rhode Island Secretary of State (SOS). You will need a Statement of Change form.
Complete the form in its entirety. This can be done by printing out the form and filling it out manually, or you can fill it out (and submit it) online.
Submit the completed form to the Rhode Island Secretary of State, Corporations Division. This can be done online, in person, or by mail.
Pay the necessary filing fee.
List of forms
The following forms and links can help you as you incorporate your business in Rhode Island.
Can I be my own Rhode Island registered agent?
Yes. A business owner can be their own registered agent. Just remember that this job is not without responsibilities and work. Furthermore, you will need to be at your registered agent’s address during all normal business hours throughout the week. This can be a hassle for many busy business owners.
What does service of process mean?
Service of process refers to the action of telling a business entity that a lawsuit has been drawn up against them. If your business is served legal papers, this usually means that you are being sued or subpoenaed. The service of process will go through your registered agent.
Are registered agents liable in Rhode Island?
Registered agents must meet certain legal requirements or, in some cases, they may be held liable for damages. For example, if a registered agent failed to let a client company know that they were being sued, they may be held liable for consequential damages.
Who can be a registered agent in Rhode Island?
Anyone who is over the age of 18, a resident of Rhode Island state, and in possession of a street address (that is not a P.O. box address) in the State of Rhode Island can be a registered agent if they so choose. Of course, there are also registered agent companies, that have similar but slightly different requirements.