A Wisconsin Registered Agent or Wisconsin Registered Agent Service is required by law for every business entity in the state of Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin and be available during regular business hours.
In my Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin LLC. Check out my guide on how to setup a Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin Registered Agent Service
ZenBusiness will be the best option for setting up a registered agent service in Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin registered agent is going to be the one that is not you acting as your own registered agent. The best service out there is ZenBusiness and they do a fantastic job with the 1000s of business owners they help each year. The are the national provider that is going to help you setup your registered agent service during your LLC formation process.
There are going to be other options that range from being your own registered agent to finding a local law firm who has registered agent services that you can use but I always recommend using ZenBusiness who has been working with the Wisconsin Secretary of State’s office to make sure they are following the necessary rules to be legally compliant.
Whether you’r looking for a new registered agent service or you’re looking to change your registered agent from another one to ZenBusiness, I highly recommend you use their service.
What is a Wisconsin Registered Agent?
A Wisconsin Registered Agent is no different than any other state registered agent that is solving the same thing that you need. A registered agent or registered agent service is a legally required thing that needs to be associated to your domestic LLC, foreign LLC or your Limited Liability Company. They are required in Wisconsin to do three primary things:
- Receive and forward legal documents and notices on behalf of your company.
- Maintain a physical address in the state of Wisconsin.
- Be available during regular business hours to receive papers if your LLC is sued.
There are numerous other benefits that come with having a professional service as your registered agent but those are the three primary things that I find are the most important to recognize. This is not a virtual mailbox service that you use to have legal mail sent to. This is a service that is required to make sure if you’re served legal papers that someone is able to accept them and report them to you.
This can be an individual or business entity that has been appointed by the you in the state of Wisconsin to accept service of process (legal papers) on your behalf if the company is ever sued.
It is not possible for you to go down to the UPS store in Wisconsin and start using their local mailbox service and think this will solve that problem. It is a good idea to get a virtual mailbox or local UPS store box but that is not a registered agent service in Wisconsin.
Why do I need a Wisconsin Registered Agent?
You need to have a Wisconsin Registered Agent or Registered Agent service setup to protect you legally from having your personal information on file publicly. It’s also important to recognize that it’s legally required in Wisconsin to have a registered agent associated to your business.
The Wisconsin Secretary of State’s office has a business name search portal (found here) where anyone in the world can use this to find the registered agent’s name and registered agent’s address associated to the public record in Wisconsin.
The impact of of this means that if someone wanted to be their own registered agent and then someone needed to serve you legal papers, they would be able to find your name and your home address (if used) in the public search system that anyone in the world can find. Think about when you register your website domain with GoDaddy. They have a piece of the service that allows you to keep everything from public view of who owns the domain. That is for security reasons just as much as it is to stop the SPAM mail. Think of a Wisconsin Registered Agent as your privacy coverage for your digital website domain. It’s clearly more complicated but gives you a better understanding as to why it’s so important to have a Wisconsin Registered Agent Service that can help you with this.
I recommend that you find the right Registered Agent Service that’s going to help you make sure you’re covered in a way that’s going to make sense for your Wisconsin Limited Liability Company.
When should I obtain a Wisconsin Registered Agent?
The best time to make sure you’re covered with a Wisconsin Registered Agent is at the beginning of your business journey and the business formation process. It’s legally required in Wisconsin to have a registered agent when you form your LLC so the best time is at that time. If you don’t do it, your business may be dissolved by the Wisconsin Secretary of State’s office.
Whether you’re going to be setting up a Wisconsin domestic LLC, foreign LLC, Limited Liability Company, S-Corp or a non-profit, it’s important to recognize that you need to have legal coverage for your business. As a business owner, I would recommend doing this from the beginning to make sure you are following the right laws and have the coverage needed to make the best decision possible.
Another big thing that happens when forming your LLC is that you’re going to need to keep track of annual compliance and annual reports that will need to be submitted to the Wisconsin Secretary of State’s office.
If you don’t go with Northwest Registered Agent, I recommend going with a service like ZenBusiness or IncFile that can help you with this on an annual basis so you’re not penalized for missing a filing date. You don’t want to have to remember all this on your own and having a partner from a registered agent service will make sure you are doing what’s needed legally.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent In Wisconsin?
We’ve talked about being your own registered agent in Wisconsin and the answer is yes but remember it’s not if you can but if you should. Being your own registered agent has lots of underlying costs that are not monetary you need to think through. Remember that if someone wants to be their own Wisconsin Registered Agent, that person will need to:
- Have a physical address in Wisconsin where legal papers can be served during business hours
- Be available at that physical address during business hours in case legal papers need to be served
- If you use your home address, this means anyone in the world will have access to your home address if they do a public search
There are other risks and liabilities as well so you need to think through everything so make sure you’re thinking through the long term implications of putting your home address and your name as the Wisconsin registered agent’s name and registered agent’s address in public record for anyone to search and find.
How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost?
The cost of a Wisconsin registered agent ranges quite substantially depending on how you look at costs. If you’re just looking at the dollars needed to be spent it can be anywhere from $0 to $300 a year depending on the type of service you look for. If you decide to be your own Wisconsin registered agent, you’re not going to have any costs up front other than the filing fee but if you decide to use a registered agent service like Northwest Registered Agent, they will typically include the first year of the service if you form your LLC with them. From there, it’s typically in the range of $125/year to continue to have a service with them.
How Do I Elect A Registered Agent In Wisconsin?
To elect the Wisconsin Registered Agent, you’ll need to go through the Wisconsin Secretary of State’s office and make sure you’re following the standard process they recommend.
The first thing you’ll need to do is go go the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and get the appropriate forms filled out with your LLC formation.
The online form is going to make sure you’re filling out the right information. The online filing fee is $130 and is not refundable so make sure you’re ready to go when you get into the process.
How do I elect a registered agent by mail in Wisconsin?
You’ll need to get the LLC form and download the Articles of Organization form which will cost you $170 as the filing fee vs. $130 online. If you get this and then submit this to the Department of Financial Institutions, you’ll have a section of this that includes the Wisconsin registered agent’s name and registered agent’s address at the top of the form.
If sent by Express or Priority U.S. mail, please mail to:
State of WI-Dept. of Financial Institutions
Division of Corporate and Consumer Services
4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower
Madison, WI, 53705
Make sure you’re double checking all this information because things can change and the best route is to make sure you’re doing what the state of Wisconsin is asking.
How Do I Change My Registered Agent In Wisconsin?
In order to change your Wisconsin Registered Agent, you’re going to need to file the Registered Agent and/or Registered Office Change form that can be found online. The filing fee is $10 and it’s pretty straight forward to fill out.
Once you’ve filled it out, you’re going to need to follow these instructions:
- Submit one original to State of WI-Dept. of Financial Institutions, Box 93348, Milwaukee WI, 53293- 0348, together with a check for the filing fee, payable to the department.
- Filing fee is non-refundable.
- (If sent by Express or Priority U.S. mail, please visit www.wdfi.org/contact_us/ for current physical address)
There are many steps with this but make sure you’re following the latest information and providing what’s needed to the state.
Registered Agent FAQ
Does Wisconsin require a registered agent?
Yes. It’s required for you to have a registered agent or registered agent service when you’re forming an LLC with the state of Wisconsin.
Does registered agent mean owner?
No. An owner of your business is someone that owns a piece of it and is not your legal coverage for accepting legal documents, have a physical address in Wisconsin or be ready to accept these legal documents during regular business hours.
What is a registered agent service?
A registered agent service is going to have a third party that will serve as your Wisconsin Registered Agent and take on these legal responsibilities for you.
Best Registered Agent
The best option for your registered agent service