Suppose you are organizing a limited liability company, corporation, or other business entity in Washington State. In that case, you must make arrangements for the service of the process to be delivered to the company.
The person who provides this service is called the “registered agent.” This service can be provided by either an individual or a business registered with the Secretary of State.
What is a Washington Registered Agent?
A Washington Registered Agent is a business or individual who agrees to accept legal papers on behalf of your company should anyone be sued. In this way, the business entity will have a legal representative in the state.
Washington Registered Agent Requirements
A Washington Registered Agent must:
- be a business or individual that is located in the State of Washington,
- agree to accept legal papers on behalf of your company and
- receive and forward official documents (you can choose not to charge a fee for this service).
A list of businesses offering the service is available at www. seattlereg agents.com (this site provides an online searchable database.) Visit the Secretary of State’s website for additional information on business formation requirements, filing fees, payment options, required disclosure statement forms, and corporate guidelines.
What are the Duties of a Registered Agent?
A Washington Registered Agent is required by law to:
- accept and forward official documents,
- maintain the address on file with the Secretary of State and
- notify of any change in the registered agent or business name
You may choose not to charge a fee for this service.
What can I expect from my registered agent?
Your Washington Registered Agent must:
- Receive and forward official documents, maintain an address on file and notify us of any change in the registered agent or business name
- Help with preparation for court proceedings when necessary
- Notify you if they receive a summons and complaint, a notice of garnishment, or a subpoena
- Conduct an annual review for document updates
- Your registered agent will need to know the name and address of your business
By choosing a Registered Agent Service in Washington, you can be assured that documents required by your business will be handled traditionally.
This service also offers companies remote access to their LLCs and Corporations through password-protected websites.
Types of registered agents
There are two types of registered agent services: Full Service and Limited Agent.
- Full-Service Agent: A Full-Service Agent will accept legal documents on your behalf, forward them to you, and provide information about the progress of legal actions taken against your business. They will help with preparation for any court proceedings that need to be handled.
- Limited Agent: Limited Agents do not accept or forward legal documents on your behalf unless specifically requested by you.
All correspondence is done directly with the company filing the paperwork. They maintain records of the legal documents filed against your business, which is usually done through self-service at their website.
Other names for a registered agent include service of process, service company, resident agent, and statutory agent.
What is a registered commercial agent?
A registered commercial agent provides the same legal service as your Registered residential Agent but will accept documents on your behalf.
Commercial agents are established within Washington and make themselves available for service of process on a 24/7 basis. They will also maintain business locations where they can be served with Summons and Complaints.
Pros and cons of hiring a registered agent
- An easy way to comply with state laws regarding business registration
- The service can be provided by any individual or business located anywhere
- Hiring someone else to handle the paperwork will give you more time to focus on your company
- Agents can provide additional services to your business such as electronic document filing, managing registered agent web accounts, or annual review for document updates
- You must pay a fee for this service
- Additional fees may apply if the agent handles documents on your behalf
How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost?
Each registered agent company sets its fees. Some companies charge by the service, while others use a flat monthly fee. The average fee is $25 a month.
What does “service of process” mean?
“Service of process” refers to the documents that must be served on a limited liability company or corporation. These can include summonses, complaints, and subpoenas.
Washington registration law requires any out-of-state business service company providing business formation or registration service to have a Washington service company for purposes of receiving service of legal papers.
The only exception is when an individual is being hired as a registered agent.
Registered Agent Services
There are many registered agent companies. Many offer the same services for less than others, so you have to understand what these services are and whether you need them or not before just picking any business.
- Company formation
- Filing your corporate minutes
- Forwarding your annual reports
- Providing a list of officers/managers
- Notifying you when name availability expires on the d/b/a names you have filed
- Filing Biennial Reports with the Secretary of State (LLLPs)
- Filing initial and annual reports for your LLLP
- Forwarding of legal documents from the Secretary of State (e.g., Certificate of Formation)
- Filing dissolution or change of Registered Agent forms
In most cases, a Washington registered agent company is not required.
Your LLC can have a registered agent in its state; however, there are some instances where a corporation may need a registered agent for the service of process. These include:
- If you have elected S corporation status, then your business needs a Registered Agent
- In some states, if you do not have a physical address on file with them and your designated entity’s address, it will require an additional filing fee and hold up any filings from being accepted until this has been updated.
Check with your Secretary of State’s office if you are unsure.
Top 5 Best Washington Registered Agent Services
This is one of the best registered agent services you can get. They provide more than just an address for your Washington limited liability companies, but they also offer legal compliance, including state filing, tax payments, and more all in one place.
Price: $25 – $75 per month, depending on the business entity.
Company Existence: This company offers a variety of services for different types of businesses not only limited to Washington Registered Agent Services, but they are among some of the cheapest price you can find today.
These include things like domain name registration, website hosting, e-commerce solutions, bookkeeping software, and many other great features that will come in handy for any new business trying to get off the ground or already established ones looking for additional features.
One of the best things about LegalZoom is that it charges a flat fee per month for their Washington registered agent services. This means that you will not have to worry about hidden charges or fees getting added on down the road if you change your mind and decide to upgrade.
They offer a variety of other legal business services including company filings, LLCs, trademarks, patents, and much more.
Price: $15 – $80 depending on the payment plan selected
Company Existence: Same as with ZenBusiness, this company also offers a lot more than just Washington limited liability companies so be sure to do your research before selecting one service over another.
They too have an easy-to-use website which makes finding the right package easy and affordable for even the smallest of budgets.
This is another company that offers Registered Agents and other business services all in one place which makes the whole process much easier for companies to get started.
You can find different plans based on what your business needs are and when it comes time to make changes they make it easy to add additional features like legal document services, tax returns, and more right within the monthly service plan you choose when you sign up with them.
Price: $25 – $99 per month depending on business type
Company Existence: Like the last two mentioned, this Washington registered agent company also provides a lot more than just limited liability companies services including website hosting, e-commerce solutions, and many others.
One unique feature that makes them stand out from the rest is their website which provides easy-to-follow support articles and videos that can answer most questions customers might have at each step of the way.
4. Northwest Registered Agent Services:
This Washington registered agent service provides one of the best, most affordable packages on the market today for small business owners.
They offer a variety of plans which come with different functionalities but they are all very reasonably priced making it easy to get started without having to break the bank.
Their plans include added features like tax preparation services, advanced notifications, and support options that make it easier for your business to succeed.
Price: $10 – $45 per month depending on the plan selected
Company Existence: Like many other companies before them, this one also provides more than just limited liability companies services including IRS filings, tax returns, trademark services, patent filing, and much more.
This is not only great for businesses looking to save costs by having one company handle everything for them but they also provide a very easy-to-use website that makes finding the right plan easy.
5. Washington Registered Agent Services:
This company offers one of the most affordable Washington registered agent services on the market today making it very attractive for anyone looking for a place to call home for your business.
They offer different plans depending on what type of business you have or intend to have so it’s best to do some research before selecting the package that’s right for you and your new company.
Price: $10 – $35 per month depending on the plan selected
Company Existence: Like many other companies, this is not only great for businesses looking to save costs by having one company handle everything but they also provide a very easy-to-use website that makes finding the right plan easy.
They have a wide variety of company types, so it’s best to find out what your business type is before selecting a package.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent In Washington?
Yes, you can. As long as you are not acting as yourself as the registered agent with an actual business that is already classified with the state, then it’s ok to act as your own Registered Agent in Washington on behalf of your LLC or Corporation.
However, this is not recommended if you run a business like this where you might be representing yourself to serve your clientele.
As the Registered Agent, you are expected to receive mail for your company and then forward it on or respond back in person.
If you’re acting as your own registered agent by forwarding the mail to yourself, this can cause some legal problems down the road should you get a letter or package that needs immediate attention.
How to choose a Washington registered agent service?
Choosing a WA registered agent is a personal decision. You may want to choose someone you know or a company that has been in the business for a long time. There are many companies offering this service, and each one has its own fee structure.
- Make sure the company is registered with the Secretary of State in your state and in Washington
- Some companies offer a refund if you cancel within a certain time frame
- Determine how often they will be available to update their records when name changes or new officers are added
Business documents include deeds, mortgages, liens, and sales contracts. Businesses must be given at least 10 days to respond.
Documents will not be forwarded until payment is received or arrangements for payment have been made. If the company neglects to notify you of a document you do not need service of process fees will apply.
How can I change my Washington business agent?
A change in Registered Agent needs to be done with proper documentation. You must have an original letter on company letterhead, notarized and signed by all members/managers (if applicable) requesting the change of Registered Agent.
Include the names and addresses of both the old and new Registered Agents. Email requests must include scanned copies of these documents. The original should then be mailed to the Washington Secretary of State at the address below.
Secretary of State’s Office
1400 Washington St. SE, Rm 304 Olympia WA 98504-4058 the USA
Optionally you can call them with any questions at 360-586-2268. Their website is http://www. secstate .wa. gov/corps/apo/apo_welcome.aspx . It also has links to the required forms.
Electing a Registered Agent Online
To file an online change of agent, please download the forms. If you are using a free service to file your documents, simply check “online filing”.
The average registered agent company charges $25 a month. The State of Washington requires companies to charge an additional $5 fee for forwarding business tax records called “CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION”.
This form is already included in the total cost shown. You can save money by choosing one that offers other services such as a notary or faxing services, which typically increase the monthly price by $15 — $20.
Electing a Registered Agent by Mail
To register by mail include a $10 check or money order payable to the Secretary of State.
- Fill out the online application
- Mail certified copies of your company’s articles of organization or other formation documents
- Mail both original and duplicate complete sets of corporate minutes (if applicable) showing that you have elected a registered agent for service of process purposes only.
What information does a Washington registered agent company require from me?
In order for you to file an online authorization, the company needs the following:
- Your name as it appears on your LLC or corporation documentation
- The number and state of your LLC or corporation
- The dates listed on your LLC or corporation formation date and expiration date
- The name(s) and address(es) for both new and prior Registered Agents
Is there any additional information not included in the service agreement that will be required after I sign up?
In some cases, you may have a Washington business entity that is set up as a limited liability partnership or LLLP.
This requires additional information from you, including your limited liability company agreement, the complete names and addresses of all members/managers (if applicable), and a detailed statement explaining how profits and losses are allocated. If you have an LLP, please include this information in your order.
All of the Registered Agents offered by an individual company are included in their service agreement. These include, but are not limited to:
- Forwarding annual report
- Forwarding documents deemed “official” by the state
- Providing clients with a current list of officers and directors
- Notification of new entity filings
- Notifying clients when name availability expires on the d/b/a names they have filed
Is there a filing fee to become a Washington registered agent company?
In order for us to process your application, you must submit payment via PayPal. The average registration fee is $100 per county to file articles of organization or articles of incorporation.
Your total bill includes the state’s filing fees as well as the company’s service fees. In some cases, they may need additional information from you before they can process your application and start providing services.
It costs $45 per year to act as your own Registered Agent in Washington. That’s the required fee if you want to receive all legal documents by mail; you can also select electronic delivery for an additional $20 (total of $65).
If they need more information, they will contact you via email or phone and give you the opportunity to cancel your request without charge should additional fees be necessary.
How do I cancel my service?
- By notifying us via e-mail
- You must state why you wish to cancel
They cannot issue a refund if you simply decide not to continue with the services. They will issue a full refund if they have not filed any documents on your behalf after 30 days from the date of payment.
Washington Registered Agent is a service that ensures your company is in good standing with the state of Washington. This will ensure that you are protected from any legal action that could be taken against your LLC or corporation.
This is a good service for small business owners who want peace of mind. The company itself must be in compliance with the state of Washington and file all necessary documents on a timely basis.
This will ensure your LLC or corporation remains active and operational. For companies that do not comply, you could risk the entire entity being dissolved.