How to Change a Registered Agent

How to Change a Registered Agent

by Belle Wong, J.D., September 2015

If you've registered a limited liability company (LLC), you would have designated an initial registered agent at the time you registered your company. But what happens if you decide to change who your registered agent will be?

Luckily the process of changing a registered agent is not complicated; however, it's important to make the change properly and not let the matter slide, as having a registered agent is a matter of compliance with your state laws.

What Is A Registered Agent?

A registered agent is someone your company designates to receive important papers such as notices of lawsuits and government documents on behalf of your business. Receiving documents related to lawsuits is known as service of process, and a registered agent is often known as an agent for service of process.

There are a number of requirements which your chosen registered agent must meet. For example, registered agents must be located in the state in which you registered your business, must have a physical address—no PO boxes are permitted—and must be available during regular business hours to receive delivery of important documents.

Aside from these requirements, an LLC registered agent may be either an individual or another entity. A registered agent may be an individual who is a member of your LLC; a registered agent may also be a third party individual such as an attorney or accountant, or a third party entity such as a registered agent service.

Reasons For Changing Your Registered Agent (LLC)

There are a multitude of reasons why you may wish to change your registered agent. Often when forming an LLC people will designate themselves or another member of the newly created LLC to be the registered agent. However, because the address of the registered agent is a matter of public record, the initial registered agent may no longer wish to serve as registered agent. For example, people serving as registered agents for their companies may find themselves receiving a lot of unsolicited mail or junk mail:

Or perhaps you had designated yourself as your company's registered agent, but with the expansion of your business and the additional workload this entails, you can no longer fulfill the requirement of always being available at the registered agent's address during business hours. In such case, it may make more sense to hire a registered agent service to act as your company's registered agent.

Another common practice is to designate your attorney or accountant as your business's registered agent. But what happens if you change attorneys or accountants? You will need to also change your registered agent, as it's unlikely your former attorney or accountant will want to continue acting as your registered agent.

How To Change Your Registered Agent

1. Obtain the information you need. The process for changing a registered agent varies from state to state, as does the fee each state charges for making the change; some states don't have any charge for filing a change of registered agent while others charge a small fee. 

A good place to begin your research is through the Small Business Administration, which lists and provides links to each state's business services website, where you should be able to obtain more information about the forms you will need to fill out to change your registered agent. You can also call your state's business services office, which is often part of your state's Secretary of State office, for more information about what is required to change your registered agent.

2. Obtain and fill out the forms you need. Most states provide downloadable forms online on their websites; if this is the case with your state, you just need to search the site for the correct forms and then download and print them. If the forms you need aren't available online or you're unable to download and print them, you should also be able to obtain them directly from your state's business services office.

Your state will likely require a form for changing your registered agent (typically a change registered agent form), as well as a form showing that your new registered agent consents to being designated your registered agent. Fill out and sign the forms as required; your registered agent will likely have to do the same with the consent form.

3. File all necessary forms. Once you've completed the forms required, you will need to file them. Some states offer online filing through their business office websites. You can also file the necessary forms by either mailing them in with the appropriate fee, or by bringing the forms and fee directly to your state's business office.

Changing your registered agent is a relatively easy and simple process; your state's business office will be able to provide you with instructions and the proper forms. The fee required for making such a change is generally fairly minimal in most states. While it may be tempting to let matters slide for a while, properly changing your registered agent will ensure your business remains in compliance with state laws regarding registered agents.

LegalZoom offers registered agent services. Our registered agent service performs all of the duties of a registered agent while reminding you about important legal deadlines, providing backups of legal documents, and more.