How to find a registered agent in South Carolina

South Carolina registered agent requirements

In order to be a registered agent in South Carolina, individuals and business entities must meet certain requirements. These are as follows.

Being your own registered agent

For business owners who would like to be their own registered agents, individuals must be older than 18, residents of South Carolina, and in possession of a non-P.O. box street address.

The street address must be a physical address because the individual registered agent must be present at this address during normal business hours from Monday to Friday throughout the week. This is so that they can be physically present to receive legal notices and other important documents for your business.

Hiring a South Carolina registered agent service

If you plan to hire a commercial registered agent in South Carolina, they must be registered to do business in the State of South Carolina. They must also have a physical address in the state.

Most registered agent companies offer other business filing services as well. For example, they can help you form your business (incorporate as a new LLC or corporation) and assist with your Annual Reports, change of registered agent filings, and much more.

Recommended registered agent services

Northwest Registered Agent will scan all documents you receive for your business so that you can easily see them in your online account. There, you’ll have unlimited cloud storage as well as strong business data protection, and help from their friendly customer service staff when you need it. A yearly subscription for their registered agent services costs $125.

See the full Northwest review here.

ZenBusiness is one of the most popular registered agent services, and many say they’re the best. They can help you with the process of LLC formation while also becoming your registered agent, and the total fee is just $99 per year — a great price. ZenBusiness is known for its competitive pricing, excellent customer service, and easy-to-understand plans.

See the full ZenBusiness review here.

Incfile will include their registered agent services free for the first year when you purchase their LLC formation services. After that, you’ll pay $119 per year to keep them on as your registered agent. With Incfile, you can instantly see and access your business’s important documents and legal notices by using their convenient dashboard. So that you know instantly when your business receives new mail, you’ll also receive a direct SMS notification and an immediate email.

See the full Incfile review here.

Why you need a registered agent

When forming your business in South Carolina, as you begin to fill out your Articles of Organization (Articles of Incorporation) and other formation documents, you will need to choose a registered agent.

According to South Carolina state law, all LLCs (limited liability companies) and corporations need to have a registered agent. A registered agent (also known as a statutory agent or resident agent) has just one job. They must receive service of process and other important legal notifications for your business. While the role seems simple, it is also an incredibly important one.

When a business receives service of process, it generally means they are being sued or subpoenaed. In turn, this means they must act on these lawsuits right away to avoid a default judgment or penalties. Likewise, tax documents and other important mail from the state are often time-sensitive. The state wants to know that your business will receive these important documents in a timely manner, which is why registered agents are required.

When you need a registered agent

A registered agent must be chosen for each new corporation as they complete their Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization. Completing your Articles is one of the first stages of incorporating your business in South Carolina. You also need to choose what type of business you plan to have (LLC, corporation, etc.) and select a business name for your new company.

When choosing a business name, make sure it is one that no other business has. Other business naming rules will apply as well.

Finally, in order to fully incorporate your business in South Carolina, you must select a board of directors, hold your first board meeting, outline your Corporate Bylaws, and obtain an EIN (employer identification number).

Why use a registered agent service

The main choice that businesses in South Carolina have in regards to a registered agent is between an individual registered agent (for example, the business owner themselves) and a commercial registered agent.

While it may seem like a good idea to act as your own registered agent because it can save you money, in the long run, most businesses in South Carolina find that hiring a commercial registered agent is far superior for the following reasons.

Privacy

When you hire a registered agent, their name and address will be on public record as a representative of your business. This public contact information means that anyone looking up your business can find your registered agent business address.

While this is fine if you have hired a commercial registered agent, if you plan to be your own registered agent, this means that, in effect, your home address will be made public.

Growth

Panning on growing your small business? If so, you’ll probably want to obtain foreign qualification for your business to sell products and services in other states.

Large commercial registered agent companies can help you do this without having to make many changes to your service plan. If you hire an individual registered agent, on the other hand, (or yourself), you will also need to have an individual registered agent in every new state where you plan to conduct business. It’s far easier to go with a larger registered agent service.

Availability

If you are a business owner and you plan on being your own registered agent, you may be surprised to learn that you won’t have a lot of free time.

That’s because registered agents need to be reliably available at their specific office address during all normal business hours. As a business owner, this is probably not how you want to spend what little time you have available.

South Carolina registered agent costs

Hiring a South Carolina commercial registered agent usually costs between $50 a year and $300 a year. The ultimate annual cost of hiring such a company will depend on what types of services your business needs.

For example, you may be able to obtain an online account where you can immediately receive same-day notifications of incoming documents and mail. Likewise, you can often get help with Annual Report deadlines and tax payment due dates from your commercial registered agent company. If you want all or some of these extra services, you should expect to pay more.

If you plan to be your own registered agent or hire an individual, no fees are required. The State of South Carolina never charges fees for registered agents.

How to change your South Carolina registered agent

All corporations and LLCs (limited liability companies) who want to change their South Carolina registered agents will need to fill out a Notice of Change of Registered Agent form. This form will then need to be filed (along with a filing fee) with the South Carolina Secretary of State, Business Filings Division.

You may choose to perform this filing yourself in person or by mail. Or, you can request that the new registered agent you hire perform the filing for you and pay the fee. Quite often, this is a service that commercial registered agents make available to new clients.

If you prefer to make the change yourself, do the following:

  • Choose a new registered agent. You may select a commercial registered agent or an individual. Be sure that whoever you choose is prepared to take on the official duties required of a registered agent in South Carolina.

  • Tell whoever your current registered agent is that you are moving on and hiring someone new for the position. Obtain any critical paperwork you may need from them.

  • Go to the South Carolina Secretary of State, Business Filings Division and obtain a Notice of Change of Registered Agent form.

  • Fill out the form in its entirety, being sure to include the name and address of your old registered agent and the name and address of your new registered agent.

  • Submit the form to the South Carolina Secretary of State, Business Filings Division, and pay the required fee (typically, by credit card).

List of forms

Below, you’ll find a list of South Carolina government websites and forms that can help you in the registered agent selection process and as you incorporate your business.

FAQs

Can I use myself as a registered agent in South Carolina?

Yes. Business owners in South Carolina may choose to act as their own registered agents. If you are your own registered agent, however, keep in mind that you must be at your physical address (your registered agent address) during regular business hours from Monday through Friday, and this may limit your business opportunities and work hours.

Should you hire a registered agent service in South Carolina?

Most serious South Carolina businesses will hire a registered agent service to act as their registered agent. This gives them more time to focus on growing their company and allows them to travel when necessary during the week instead of being forced to always be at their registered agent address. Hiring a registered agent company is also more professional.

Can my wife or husband be the registered agent for my business?

Yes, if your wife or husband is prepared to be at their physical address during normal business hours and accept legal documents and other important correspondence on behalf of your business, you may name them as your registered agent. They must also be a resident of South Carolina, have a physical address in the state, and be at least 18.

Is a South Carolina registered agent necessary?

Yes. If you have an LLC, corporation, or partnership in South Carolina, you must have a registered agent. First, you’ll select what business structure you want for your company and choose a company name, and the next step is to select your registered agent. All of this information must be included in your Articles of Incorporation when incorporating your business.

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