Fact checked for accuracy by Billie Anne Grigg, a bookkeeper and Mastery Level Certified Profit First Professional.
Are you feeling confused about how to go about changing the registered agent for your company?
Remember that registered agents are an important aspect of business management. They ensure that your company meets all legal formalities. However, when you need to make this change, the process can become confusing and difficult to understand.
In this article, you’ll learn how to change the registered agent of a business entity with confidence.
What to Do Before Changing Your Registered Agent
You need to take some preliminary steps before changing your registered agent.
Make sure you’ve obtained a new registered agent who’s willing to take on the responsibility. You need to make sure they meet all the requirements to qualify as a registered agent. You can choose an individual, such as a manager or officer, to perform the role. You can also select a registered agent service company or an attorney.
How to Change Your Registered Agent
You have three choices when it’s time to change your registered agent:
- Use your state’s Change of Registered Agent form
- Complete the change inside your company’s annual report
- File a legal amendment
Filing a Change of Registered Agent form is the easiest method for change because it requires the least amount of work. You will go online to your secretary of state website, find the change form, fill it out, and then submit it.
Most states also require that your new registered agent fill out a consent form that shows they’re willing to become the new agent on file.
You shouldn’t run into much trouble on the state website to perform the change. In the rare case that you can’t find these forms online, you can also request the proper form directly from the secretary of state.
After filling out and signing the change form, you must submit it to your state. Do this by either the provided online filing system or by mailing or faxing the forms to the secretary of state. You’ll find specific directions for your particular state on the Change of Registered Agent form.
If you’re changing the registered agent at the time of your company’s annual filing, you can submit the agent change at the same time. Most states let you file and pay for the annual filing online and ask if you need to report any company changes. Fill out the new registered agent information when prompted during your annual filing process.
A third way to change the registered agent is to file a legal amendment. If you’re using a registered agent service, ask if they will help you with the amendment. Often, these services will help you do it this way or even help you with the aforementioned Change of Registered Agent form process.
Reasons to Change Your Registered Agent
Here’s a quick review of common reasons why you might want to change your current registered agent to a new agent:
- Your current registered agent isn’t willing to continue serving in that role (read our full article on registered agent resignation for more on this topic)
- The registered agent’s contact information changed, and you can’t reach them
- The officer or manager currently serving as the registered agent left the company
If your current registered agent no longer wishes to serve in the role or you can’t locate your registered agent, act swiftly to make the change. You can’t afford to miss any important documents or legal information due to a registered agent failing to forward them to you.
For example, if your company gets sued and you never receive notification about the situation, you’re going to make matters worse dealing with the courts. Or, the secretary of state may fine your company once it realizes that you don’t have a current registered agent performing its duties responsibly.
Another big reason to change registered agents is that you’re currently fulfilling the role. You’ve most likely realized through experience that you don’t have the time or expertise to fill the role in the best manner.
You’re either overwhelmed with the responsibility or maybe you don’t like the fact that your private address became part of the public record after you became the registered agent.
If any of these reasons pertain to you, it’s time for a change. You don’t want an inactive or unresponsive registered agent jeopardizing your business operations and compliance status.
Choosing the right registered agent is an important part of a business organization. Don’t decide without thinking it through. Select a quality registered agent. Make sure to meet all required legal formalities. Doing so will ensure that your business remains compliant with state law and avoids penalties or fines.
If you’re unsure, review the change process with an attorney or business organization specialist before making any changes.
Who Can Be Your New Registered Agent?
Now that you know some reasons why you might want to change your registered agent, it’s time to find a new one. But who can serve in this role?
The answer is anyone you choose. You could pick an acquaintance or colleague, for example. You can also select a member, manager, or officer of your company as the registered agent. If you do choose an individual for the role, they must meet the following conditions:
- Be a resident of the state in which you registered your company
- Be 18 years or older
- Remain available to accept mail and phone calls Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM
- Commit to notifying you after accepting any documents on your behalf
You can also choose another domestic or foreign corporate entity to serve as a registered agent. The entity, such as a corporation or LLC, must maintain the right to conduct business in the state where your company performs its business.
The other option is hiring a professional service to become your new registered agent. Doing this will give you the peace of mind that important documents and correspondence are always handled promptly and correctly.
When looking for a registered agent service, make sure they’re licensed and bonded in your state. Also, ask if they have experience with the type of business entity you have. If not, you may want to look elsewhere.
A quality registered agent service should provide the following services:
- Receipt of important documents and correspondence
- Forwarding of legal notifications
- Maintenance of your company’s registered agent records
These registered agent services typically charge $100 or $200 per year to act on your behalf. When you consider how much responsibility they take on for you, you can think of these as acceptable fees for the service provided.
How Much Does it Cost to Change Your Registered Agent?
There aren’t any major costs associated with changing your registered agent. The only fee you may incur is a small charge from the secretary of state for filing the change of registered agent form. Depending on your state, these fees might range from $0 to $50.
In California, for example, you can make the change on your annual Statement of Information form without any additional charges beyond the normal $20 (LLCs and nonprofits) or $25 (corporations) charged anyway for the form.
Contact your state and ask for the specifics you need to know about the exact costs involved to make this change.
The Last Word
As you now know, it’s not difficult to change your registered agent. Hop on your secretary of state website, download the forms, and get it done as soon as possible. Contact your state or consider hiring a registered agent service if you run into any issues.
Filed under: Advice Columns