How to Change a Registered Agent

    by Benjamin Aronson
Updated September 6, 2021

As you know, a registered agent is a business or person who receives and sends legal documents for an LLC. Registered agents are responsible for maintaining an LLC’s paperwork and accepting official correspondence on behalf of the business.

Yet, businesses are constantly changing, and there may come a time when you need to change your registered agent, but how does one do that?

In this article, we will show you everything you need to know when changing your registered agent and what to look out for.

When to Change a Registered Agent?

Before diving into the details of how to change a registered agent, you should consider when it is important to make this change.

If taking time to form an LLC and it takes some time to change your registered agent. People and businesses are constantly evolving, making it vital for us to adapt to new circumstances. Make sure you change your registered agent at the right time and for the right reasons.

Below are the four main reasons why you may want to change your registered agent.

#1 Unavailability

The first to change a registered agent is because the current registered agent is no longer available or simply isn’t working out.

#2 Business Expansion

The second reason why there should be a change in registered agents is if the business has the opportunity to expand into new states. Not every registered agent has the ability to serve every state. Plus, many companies prefer to have one for all states rather than a bunch of registered agents covering different states.

#3 Owner Ease

The third reason is that while many small business owners choose to be their own registered agent, it comes with extra responsibilities and decreased privacy. Often, small business owners will start as their own registered agent. As they get their business off the ground, they can change their registered agent to a professional company once they are stable.

#4 Price

The final reason behind making a registered agent change is that you may have found that you are being overcharged for your registered agent’s services. The services that you require from your registered agent are sometimes dependent on the type and size of your business. If you are paying a steep price, you may want to switch to a more affordable option.

How to Change a Registered Agent?

There are three options for changing your registered agent:

  1. Completing an annual report
  2. Submitting a change of registered agent form
  3. Making official amendments to your LLC’s Articles of Organization

Complete an Annual Report

Most businesses have to submit an annual report of their business to remain in good standing. Yet, if you are in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, and South Carolina, are you not required to submit an annual report.

If your business needs to submit an annual report, you can reduce paperwork and filing fees by including your registered agent change. All you have to do is add the change in registered agent to the report! You have to submit the report anyway, so why not do it at the same time?

We want to note that annual reports have a specific timeframe for submission, which you are likely already aware of. If you hired an LLC formation service like Incorpoate.com or Northwest registered agent, be sure to ask them any questions in relation to your annual report time frames. Due to each state being different from the next, we encourage you to double-check with your state’s submission office if you are unsure of the timeframe.

If you have already submitted your annual report, you are exempt from submitting an annual report, or you need to complete your change of registered agent outside the annual report submission timeframe, you can simply submit a change of registered agent form.

Change of Registered Agent Form

A change of registered agent form is a simple document to complete. You can find the form on your state’s government website; it is a quick and easy form to fill out. A change of registered agent form generally includes,

  • Business’s name
  • Business’s identification number
  • Previous registered agent’s information
  • New registered agent’s information.

We recommend choosing this method if you cannot complete the change in your annual report or need it completed right away.

I Need it Changed Now!

You can expedite your change of registered agent form. In some state’s this takes an extra bit of paperwork and an expedited order fee. The fee can range anywhere and how soon you want that change completed.

Where Do I Find the Form?

The location of the change of registered agent form depends on your state. For example, you can find your registered agent change form for Alabama on the Alabama Secretary of State website. However, to find the registered agent change form for Arizona, you would find their form with the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Updating Articles of Organization

The final option for changing an LLC’s registered agent is by making official amendments to your LLC’s Articles of Organization. We want to point out that this is a time-consuming and expensive option that does not work in every state. For example, Florida does not allow for a change in registered agent to be completed via an amendment to the Articles of Organization.

Thus, we would only recommend this method if you have to complete amendments to your business AND it as allowed in your state.

How Long Until the Change Must Be Completed?

To keep your business in good standing, you should always have an active registered agent. If possible, we recommend that you hire a new registered agent before canceling the previous one. If your current registered agent suddenly becomes unavailable, we suggest submitting your forms as quickly as possible, as they can take a couple of weeks to process.

Who to Choose as Your Registered Agent?

Now that you know how to change a registered agent, you must decide who you want to elect. Technically, a registered agent can be anyone over the age of 18 who has a physical address in the state where the business is conducted and is available during normal business hours. You can choose a professional company, a business partner, your attorney or accountant, a friend, your spouse, and even yourself.

Should I Be My Own Registered Agent?

It is common for small business owners to start as their own registered agent. We do want to caution that your business address is listed publicly when you are your own registered agent, even if you work out of your home.

Additionally, acting as your own registered agent means that you could be served a lawsuit at any given time. This could happen in front of your family, friends, employees, and customers.

If this lack of privacy is not ideal, you may want to consider hiring a professional company. By doing so, the registered agent company will be listed as the address, and they will handle all official correspondence. They can also take care of compliance management, document management, and helping you with any of your questions. Most LLC Registered Agent services range from $99 – $300 annually for their services.

Can I Choose Not to Have a Registered Agent?

No. It is required that all businesses have a registered agent. If you fail to appoint or maintain a registered agent, your business may be subject to involuntary termination or penalties.

Additionally, all registered agents must consent to the job. You cannot appoint a registered agent without their permission. If you are hiring a formation company/LegalZoom alternative, know that a registered agent isn’t necessarily included in the cost of an LLC.

What is the Difference Between a Commercial and Non-Commercial Registered Agent?

When you incorporate your business, and when you make changes to your registered agent, the form usually asks if you are electing a commercial registered agent or a noncommercial registered agent.

A commercial registered agent is usually a professional company. A noncommercial registered agent is an individual, like when the business owner is the registered agent or appoints a business partner or friend.

State Differences in Changing Registered Agents

While changing a business’s registered agent is nearly the same in every single state, we do want to note the slight differences between the states to prevent confusion.

Registered Agent Job Title

The first notable difference is the title of the position, as there are many names for a registered agent. Other titles

  • Statutory agent
  • Process of service agent
  • Resident agent.

When looking at your state’s guidelines or paperwork, understand that the jobs are the same even though the titles are different.

Registered Agent Change Form Title

The second difference is the name of the form. Different states have different names for their Change of Registered Agent form. For example, form names may be titled “Certificate of Change of Registered Office” or “Change of Resident Agent.”

If you are unsure which form is the correct one, we encourage you to reach out to your state’s processing office to clarify which form you need.

Change Form Submission Process

How you go about submitting your change form will depend on your state’s submission guidelines. If you choose to submit your change via your annual review, most states allow you to submit this form online.

Yet, if you decide to do a registered agent change form or amendments to the articles of organization, states can be a bit pickier. You may not have a choice between:

  • Online
  • Mail
  • In person

Changing Your Registered Agent Fees

The cost of submitting an annual report, a registered agent change form, or an amendment to articles of organization varies by state. For example, a registered agent change form only costs $5 in Michigan, but it costs $25 in Florida.

Remember that submitting your registered agent change in your annual report means that you don’t have to pay twice!

Foreign Businesses

If your business operates in the USA as a foreign entity, you will likely have extra guidelines to follow. It is essential to check the regulations in each state that your business operates.

Your New Registered Agent!

Congratulation on taking the initiative to change your registered agent. We hope that the knowledge on how to change a registered agent, who to elect as your new registered agent, and the differences between states have provided you with the tools to improve your business model and add to your success.

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