A North Carolina Registered Agent or North Carolina Registered Agent Service is required by law for every business entity in the state of North Carolina. A registered agent is an individual or business entity that will accept legal papers (documents) on your behalf if it is sued. The registered agent or registered agent service must have a physical street address in North Carolina and be available during regular business hours.
In my North Carolina Registered Agent guide, I’ll walk you through the detailed process of when you should get a registered agent or registered agent service for your North Carolina business, how to pick one, if they are required and how to change one if needed. Typically you’re getting a registered agent when you setup your North Carolina LLC. Check out my guide on how to setup a North Carolina LLC so you can make sure you’re following all the right steps in the process. If you are just looking for the professional service to help you – use Northwest Registered Agent or ZenBusiness.
Best North Carolina Registered Agent Service
ZenBusiness will be the best option for setting up a registered agent service in North Carolina. They can also help you with getting your LLC formed so if you’re looking for the best option, check them out today!
The best option that you can pick for a North Carolina registered agent or registered agent service is going to be Northwest Registered Agent or ZenBusiness. Typically I recommend ZenBusiness but it’s also a great idea to get a second opinion before committing. Both of them do a fantastic job helping you get your LLC formed and traditionally include the first year of the registered agent service when you do this.
Both of these services are national providers so you’re going to see a higher quality of service than a local law firm or trying to pull this off on your own (which we’ll get into).
The other big thing to consider is that they are working with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office and will operate in accordance with the law to make sure you’re compliant.
Whether you’re looking for a new registered agent or you’re changing an existing registered agent that you’re just not happy with – Northwest and ZenBusiness are great options for you to consider to get started.
What is a North Carolina Registered Agent?
A North Carolina Registered Agent is no different than any other state’s registered agent. All the states in the United States are required to have a registered agent for your business entity. Traditionally a registered agent or registered agent service is going to provide three main things:
- A physical location in the state of North Carolina for legal documents to be served
- The ability to receive and forward legal correspondence from the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office
- The ability to receive service of process if your business is sued
A North Carolina Registered Agent is required by law for every business entity in the state of North Carolina. They will also make sure you’re following the annual renewal and compliance regulations that are in North Carolina. You’re going to need to make sure you do this and trying to do this on your own just isn’t the best solution when we’re talking about trying to build your business from the ground up. The last thing you should be worried about are legal compliance deadlines as a business owner that is trying to grow their business.
This is not something you can solve with a PO Box or try and get a virtual mailbox service. You can still do that for your business but it’s not going to check the box on a North Carolina registered agent that the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office is going to consider as a real solution. If you do that your business will most likely be dissolved. It’s not an ok solution and we’ll get into that a little later here.
Why do I need a North Carolina Registered Agent?
The biggest reason you’re going to need a North Carolina registered agent is because it’s legally required for you to do so. Each business entity whether it’s a domestic LLC, foreign LLC, Limited Liability Company, C-Corp, S-Corp, etc. is going to need some type of registered agent by law.
One of the main things that will happen also is that your registered agent’s name and registered agent’s address will be associated to the business entity. This means that when someone looks through the North Carolina Secretary of State’s business name search portal, they will be able to find that information. The implications of what this means to you as a business owner are pretty massive depending on what you do here. Traditionally you’re going to have a registered agent service that will help you by using their information. If you decided to use your own name and address that is going to be an issue because it will show up in the public record.
Think about what that means for you long term. If you decide to be your own registered agent and someone wanted to find your address associated to the business – they can just use the business name search portal to pull it up. They can legally just show up during regular business hours and deliver service of process (legal papers) anytime and you don’t want that to happen at your home address with your loved ones. This is the reason I always tell people NOT to be their own registered agent. It’s just not worth the cost to you personally.
When should I obtain a North Carolina Registered Agent?
The best time to obtain a North Carolina registered agent is when you are forming your LLC business. If you don’t do this while you’re forming your business, you may violate the North Carolina Secretary of State’s laws of what a business entity is. From there, they will most likely just dissolve your business. That won’t feel good and you’ll have to start this process all over again.
If you just use a national registered agent service like Northwest Registered Agent or ZenBusiness, you’re going to most likely have the first year of the registered agent service included. Check with them on the latest deals they have running but when you factor in the cost of forming your business and you get this included – it’s an easy decision.
The other big thing to consider that we haven’t really touched on is the annual compliance and deadlines you’re going to have to keep track of. You’ll be able to use a registered agent to help you keep track of these deadlines as a business owner in North Carolina vs. trying to spend time thinking through how to keep track of this yourself.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent In North Carolina?
Yes. It is technically possible for you to be your own registered agent but remember that it’s not about whether you can or not. This is about whether you really should do this based on what the requirements of a registered agent are in North Carolina. Do you really want to have someone showing up to your house and delivering legal papers to you?
When I think about all the requirements of a registered agent and what you’d need to do in order to make sure this is done correctly as a business owner, I always recommend going with a registered agent service.
The main things you’d be responsible for as your own registered agent are:
- Making sure you’re available during regular North Carolina business hours in order to receive any service of process (legal papers)
- You’ll need to have a physical street address in the state of North Carolina (no P.O. Boxes)
- You must be available at this address in order to receive any legal papers
You’re also going to need to keep track of the annual renewal and compliance deadlines for your business. As a business owner this is not something you want to spend time on. The best thing to do is just focus on building your business – not worrying about the legal ramifications of not renewing a registered agent service on an annual basis.
How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost?
The cost of a North Carolina Registered Agent is going to vary depending on how you go about pulling this off. It can range from $0 to $300 per year depending on what direction you go. If you decide to do this on your own (which I do NOT recommend) it can be close to $0 but all the other hidden costs we’ve talked about make it something you should not consider.
After that there are really two options:
- Find a national registered agent service like Northwest Registered Agent or ZenBusiness (1st year included when you form your LLC with them)
- Use a local law firm with registered agent services (Lower cost than national)
Each of these will have their own cost and typically you’re going to see a lower cost with a law firm in North Carolina that has their own services here.
How Do I Elect A Registered Agent In North Carolina?
in order to elect a registered agent in North Carolina you’re going to need to do this through the standard process at the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office which has Articles of Organization you’ll need to complete (Filing Fee: $125 and filed with the Secretary of State)
How Do I Elect A Registered Agent Online in North Carolina?
You can fill this out through the North Carolina’s Secretary of State’s office through their launch a business portal here. You’ll be able to request to file electronically through this area of their site.
How Do I Elect A Registered Agent by Mail, Fax or In Person in North Carolina?
If you want to do this by mail or in person, you can through but you’ll need to pull down the Articles of Organization file and complete it (Filing Fee: $125)
How Do I Change My Registered Agent In North Carolina?
If you want to change your registered agent you can do so by just filling out the Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent and send it into the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office (Filing Fee: $5 paid by check or credit card)
Here are all the other forms you might need at the SOSNC.gov/forms site.
You can choose to do this online here.
If you want to do this by mail or in person, here are the locations you’ll need to head to.
North Carolina Registered Agent FAQ
Does North Carolina require a registered agent?
Yes, North Carolina does indeed require LLCs to have a registered agent on file with the state.
How often do I need to renew my registered agent service in North Carolina?
Your registered agent service will need to be renewed every year in order to stay in good legal standing with the state of North Carolina.
Does registered agent mean owner?
No, registered agent does not mean owner. A registered agent is simply a point of contact for your business who can accept legal papers on your behalf.
What is a registered agent service?
A registered agent service is a company (or individual) who agrees to accept legal papers on your behalf and forwards them to you in a timely manner.
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