Should You Get a North Carolina Registered Agent?
Before you file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State, you are required to choose a North Carolina Registered Agent for a successful LLC formation. In this guide, we will be providing you all the relevant information regarding a registered agent in North Carolina. We hope that this guide can help you in your LLC formation.
What is a North Carolina Registered Agent
First, let’s talk about what a North Carolina registered agent is. A registered agent is usually a person or a business that accepts legal mail in the name of your North Carolina LLC in case the business gets involved in a lawsuit. The job of a North Carolina registered agent is to accept Service of Process, which is the legal mail, and other legal documents on behalf of your LLC.
It is also required by law for each formal business in the state of North Carolina to have a North Carolina registered agent. Not only does the registered agent receive every service of process for the business, but they also act as the point of contact for your North Carolina business for all communication with the State like the North Carolina Annual List and certificate of good standing.
Why does a North Carolina LLC need a Registered Agent
As we’ve mentioned earlier, your North Carolina registered agent acts as the point of contact for all legal documents for your LLC. Having a registered agent on file with the state will allow a proper tracking of service of process and legal documents.
It is similar to the concept of ‘certified mail return receipt’, but from a legal aspect, it is how process servers, or otherwise known as people that deliver paperworks, make a record that something was delivered.
How to choose a Registered Agent for your North Carolina LLC
According to the law, a North Carolina registered agent must have a physical street address in North Carolina. The State will use that street address in North Carolina to deliver official and legal documents to your LLC.
You should note that the registered agent’s address, or otherwise known as the Registered Office, cannot be a PO box address, a mailbox rental service or a telephone answering service.
The North Carolina registered agent also needs to be available during normal business hours which is 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. This is because the service of process will usually be sent during normal business hours.
After choosing a registered agent for your LLC, you are required to fill in the details of the registered agent in North Carolina into the Articles of Organization, which is one of the most important LLC formation documents. You can do this online or by mail. A filing fee of $125 is required for online formation and the state requires the same filing fee if you do it by mail.
Can I be the Registered Agent for my North Carolina LLC
Yes, you can. As long as you are over the age of 18, have a physical street address in North Carolina, are available during the business periods and you don’t mind your physical address available publicly, then you are free to be your LLC’s registered agent in North Carolina. You should also be aware of some of the risks of being your own registered agent in North Carolina.
Risk of being your own Registered Agent in North Carolina
One of the risks of being your own registered agent in North Carolina involves listing your information in public records. While this might not be a big risk, some business owners might not prefer to expose their information.
If you do decide to be your own registered agent in North Carolina, the information you submit in the Articles will become public record with the State of North Carolina. In that case, this information will be available and accessible publicly and other websites can also download them to republish them on their own website.
Eventually, the cycle goes on as other so-called “public record websites” get a hold of this information and it will be listed on their website again. Soon enough, your address will be on multiple websites and anyone can find it through a Google search. Fortunately, there is a solution to ensure your details are off public record, which we will discuss later.
Additionally, another possible risk, though unlikely to happen, is that you could lose your liability protection and the State of North Carolina will shut down your business in North Carolina if you’re not in compliance with the state laws. This will only happen if you’re unable to “continuously maintain” a registered agent on file or if the State of North Carolina is unable to get a hold of your registered agent.
Besides that, if in any case the person who sends lawsuit notices and court documents is unable to reach the registered agent of your LLC or if your LLC is unable to be successfully served through the Secretary of State, the court case can still go on without your presence and you may not be aware too.
The worst case scenario is that the court case could go into a default judgment against your LLC if you’re not there to defend yourself.
Who else can be a North Carolina Registered Agent
Besides yourself, here are some other parties that can be a registered agent in North Carolina.
Friend or Family
If you’ve got a friend or a family member who stays in the state of North Carolina and has a street address in North Carolina, they can be the registered agent for your LLC too. The same requirements apply where they’re required to be reachable during business hours and they should be fine with their place of stay listed on public records.
Registered Agent Service
The other convenient option is to hire a registered agent service. They usually cost about $50 to $300 per year but for such a small cost, you’re getting immense convenience with hired registered agents. We will be exploring more about registered agent services so keep reading to find out more.
Why businesses Use a Registered Agent Service
A registered agent service or a commercial registered agent is specialized in receiving service of process on behalf of your LLC. Hiring a registered agent service is a common thing to do for business owners and here are some of the reasons why.
Generally, a registered agent service keeps a compliance calendar which reminds you when annual reports or other filings are due and they will also do the filings for you. Having this compliance calendar can help in avoiding fines and maintaining your company in good standing. This is especially crucial if you intend to maintain your limited liability protection.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, if you do not respond to the service of process in time, you may face lawful matters, fees, penalties or other issues. The registered agent service will help to scan your documents, share them with you and notify you when they are available.
If your work is in your home or a private office, acting as your own registered agent means your address will be in the Articles of Organization and is publicly available.
But if you care about your privacy and want to keep where you’re staying or working private, hiring a registered agent service would be the ideal option because some registered agent services will allow you to use their street address instead of yours when filing the LLC formation documents.
It’s never a good feeling to be getting a service of process for a lawsuit against your company and it can be sensitive especially when the service of process arrives in front of your clients or employees.
But with a North Carolina registered agent service, they will be receiving the service of process and other relevant documents at their office instead of your office and they will deliver them to you online in a discreet manner. With a registered agent service, you won’t have to receive the service of process in front of your clients or employees.
Being your own registered agent in North Carolina means you are required to be available during regular business hours every working day throughout the year. This is extremely inconvenient and why businesses hire a registered agent service. A registered agent service usually has physical offices and staff working every working day at those hours so they will be available all the time.
This allows you to have more flexibility in a sense that you don’t need to be available all the time and you can choose to go on a vacation, work wherever you have to or travel around. You can do all that knowing that they’ll be handling your paperwork.
Typically, a registered agent will scan your documents once they receive them and store a digital copy of every business document and service of process on an online dashboard. If you use an LLC formation service, you will usually use them as a registered agent as well and the copy of your formation documents will also be on the dashboard online.
Keeping the information is helpful for your business when you want to open business bank accounts, apply for a credit card or small loans. There are also other things that may need a copy of these documents.
Another reason that businesses hire a registered agent is if they plan on expanding their business into other states, it is one of the requirements to have a registered agent for your foreign LLC or other business entity.
Many registered agent services operate in every state but you do need to pay an additional cost for the new state and documents will be delivered to the same online dashboard.
Best North Carolina Registered Agent Service
The best North Carolina registered agent service that we highly recommend is the Northwest Registered Agent. This registered agent service in North Carolina has been around for more than 20 years and they are recognized for providing exceptional customer service. Most importantly, they allow you to use their address to form your entity, ensuring that your address is not published publicly.
There is a growing number of business owners who start from their home and as a result, all the addresses stated in the forms will be listed publicly. So if you were thinking of using your personal details but you would prefer to keep it from being listed publicly, you can hire a North Carolina registered agent service like the Northwest Registered Agent.
This company charges $125 per year and allows you to use their address in the filing of Articles of Organization with no additional cost. For the price of $125 per year, you will also be getting all your LLC’s documents in your online account.
Change of Registered Agent
You are allowed to change registered agents as many times as you see fit. However, the state requires a filing of the Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent and it needs to be submitted to the North Carolina Secretary of State with a filing fee.
The filing fee is $5 regardless of how many times you hand in the form to the North Carolina Secretary of State. It can also be done online, by mail or in person.
Can my LLC be its own registered agent?
No. There are only some states which allow an LLC to be its own registered agent, but unfortunately, an LLC cannot be its own registered agent in the state of North Carolina. You can hire a registered agent in North Carolina or your LLC can appoint another company (which can be an LLC, Corporation, or any other business entity) to be the registered agent.
Is a registered agent the same as an owner?
No, a registered agent isn’t the same as an owner. A registered agent keeps every document up to date and receives official paperworks in the name of the business, but a registered agent doesn’t have the same role as an owner. However, an owner can decide to act as the company’s registered agent.
Is a registered agent required in North Carolina?
First of all, a registered agent is required by law for an LLC, corporation, or other formal business entity in every U.S state except for New York. Hence, all businesses in North Carolina require a North Carolina registered agent.
A registered agent has a different name in different states, such as a resident agent or a statutory agent. Regardless of the name, they still provide the same professional service.
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