How to find a registered agent in Washington

Washington registered agent requirements

Here is what is required in order to be a Washington registered agent.

Being your own registered agent

If you are a business owner who plans on being your own registered agent, you must be a resident of the State of Washington. You must also be at least 18 years old or older. Finally, you must have a physical address that is located within the State of Washington. This cannot be a P.O. box address.

As your own registered agent, you will be required to be at your physical registered agent address from approximately 9am until 5pm, Monday through Friday, throughout the year. You must be reliably at this address so that service of process and other important legal documents can be delivered to you when necessary.

Hiring a Washington registered agent service

Many Washington businesses decide to forgo being their own registered agent and, instead, they hire a Washington registered agent service.

If you choose to do this, you will need to ensure that your Washington registered agent service is registered formally to conduct business in the State of Washington. Your registered agent company must accept the role of being your business’s registered agent. And finally, the company needs to maintain a physical address in the state where someone will reliably be from approximately 9am until 5pm, Monday through Friday, throughout the year.

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

A Washington registered agent is an individual or a business entity that is tasked with accepting important documents on behalf of your LLC (limited liability company) or corporation. All businesses in the State of Washington need to have a registered agent, according to state law. Appointing one is an essential part of submitting your formation documents to the Secretary of State and incorporating your business. You must maintain a registered agent in order to stay in good standing with the state.

A Washington registered agent must maintain a physical address in the state. It will be their job to accept legal documents for your business and to be present at their physical address during normal business hours.

You may also choose to be your own registered agent. However, many businesses in Washington find it easier to go with a company.

When you need a registered agent

Your registered agent should be selected as soon as possible when you know you want to register your business with the state. You should plan to have their full name, street address, and phone number ready so that this information can be easily filled into your Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation.

Your Articles of Incorporation, which you also may see referred to as a certificate of formation, are a group of documents that must be filed with the Secretary of State in order to legally form or create your corporation or LLC. All new businesses in Washington need to file these documents.

Your Articles of Incorporation will include things such as your business’s new name, a list of who your Board of Directors will be, who your registered agent will be, and other essential information. In order to create your corporation or LLC in Washington, you also need to hold your first board meeting, outline your corporate bylaws, and obtain an employer identification number (also known as an EIN).

Why use a registered agent service

If you are starting your first business in Washington, you may be wondering why you should hire a registered agent service over being your own registered agent. After all, it’s free to be your own registered agent or to have a close friend or family member take this position for you.

In fact, there are a number of reasons to hire a registered agent service, including:

Privacy

Registered agent companies allow you to stay private. This is because they will be using their official registered agent address as your company’s registered agent address. If you were to be your own registered agent, you’d have to list your home address as your registered agent address, which would mean it would be on the public record. Anyone could find it.

Discretion

One of the main services offered by registered agent companies is the receipt and forwarding of service of process.

Service of process is the action of letting a business or individual know that they are being served papers (being sued or subpoenaed). These legal papers are extremely important because if you don’t get them or act on them right away, a default judgment might be made with your lawsuit, which could mean serious legal problems for you.

Naturally, businesses do not want to be served papers, and it’s not a good look to be served at your brick-and-mortar place of business or at your home. Having a registered agent provides some discretion in the event that a lawsuit is brought against your company.

Freedom and flexibility

Hiring a registered agent service also gives you, the business owner, more freedom and flexibility with your time. You won’t have to stay at a physical address all of the time to be ready for legal documents to arrive for your business. You can feel free to travel, take meetings, and move around as you please.

The main reason you’d need to pay a registered agent is if you hire a company. There are no requirements for paying an individual to be your registered agent. The state also does not charge fees for registered agents.

If you choose to hire a registered agent service, plan to spend approximately $50-$300 per year on their services.

If you are still in the incorporation phase of your business, consider incorporating with a company that also offers registered agent services. If you do this, the company may very well offer their registered agent services for free for the first year as part of your incorporation package.

Washington registered agent costs

The main reason you’d need to pay a registered agent is if you hire a company. There are no requirements for paying an individual to be your registered agent. The state also does not charge fees for registered agents.

If you choose to hire a registered agent service, plan to spend approximately $50-$300 per year on their services.

If you are still in the incorporation phase of your business, consider incorporating with a company that also offers registered agent services. If you do this, the company may very well offer their registered agent services for free for the first year as part of your incorporation package.

How to change your Washington registered agent

From time to time, a business in Washington may need to change their listed registered agent. When this is the case, the business will need to obtain and fill out a Statement of Change for Registered Agent form. This form can be obtained from the Washington Secretary of State, Corporate Division.

When switching to a registered agent company, always ask whether your new company can do the filing for you. This can relieve some of the hassle of changing registered agents, and the company will often pay the filing fee on your behalf as well.

If, however, you decide to change your registered agent on your own, do the following:

  • Go to the Washington Secretary of State, Corporate Division website, or visit in person. Obtain a Statement of Change for Registered Agent form.

  • Fill out the form, and return it to the Washington Secretary of State. You can do this online, by fax, in person, or by mail.

  • Pay the filing fee. This can be done by credit card most of the time.

  • Lastly, don’t forget to notify your old registered agent that you are getting a new agent.

List of forms

Use the following government websites and forms to assist you in selecting a registered agent and incorporating your business in the State of Washington.

FAQs

Why do you need a registered agent in Washington?

Your Washington registered agent will receive important legal notifications and documents on behalf of your business. If you are served papers in a lawsuit, your registered agent will also accept these documents on your business’s behalf.

What happens if I don’t have a registered agent?

Having a registered agent in the State of Washington is essential. You cannot incorporate your business in Washington if you don’t have a registered agent. If you fail to maintain a registered agent, you will not remain in good standing with the state.

How do I locate the registered agent for a business in Washington?

In order to find the listed registered agent address for a business in Washington, conduct a business entity search on the Washington Secretary of State website. Simply type in their name. All registered agent addresses for businesses in Washington are on public record.

Can I be my own Washington registered agent?

Yes, any business owner can be their own registered agent in Washington. Unfortunately, taking on this role yourself can often be overwhelming. Registered agents need to be available at a single street address, Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. Many business owners are unable to maintain these hours and the responsibilities that go along with being a registered agent.

Will a registered agent receive all of my business mail?

No, your registered agent doesn’t receive all of your mail. They only receive important documents like service of process and other court and tax-related documents. All other mail will go to your regular business address.

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