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Registered Agent Service

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Changing a Registered Agent—All You Need To Know

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Your business must appoint a registered agent to receive documents in legal matters, including notice of lawsuit. Our reliable registered agent service fulfills this requirement. You get:

  • Same-day documents from our local offices in all 50 states.
  • Immediate online access to state forms with our address and, where required, our signature
  • Annual fees from $89Multi-Year Discount to $99 /year per state with no additional charges
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A registered agent plays the crucial role of receiving legal and tax documents on your behalf, serving as the official point of contact with the state. If you already have a registered agent but are contemplating a change, you should file the appropriate forms with your state's registration agency, typically the secretary of state's office. The exact process varies by state but generally includes providing details about your business and the incoming and outgoing agents.

This guide provides a comprehensive approach to changing a registered agent, including the critical considerations for picking a reliable one. You'll also learn what makes Harbor Compliance a reliable partner in ensuring a smooth transition when changing your statutory agent.

The Importance of a Registered Agent

In most U.S. states and territories, having a registered agent is not just a crucial part of maintaining the smooth operation of the business—it's a legal obligation. Without a designated agent, a business would lose good standing with the state.

To understand the significance of this role, we need to dive into what a registered agent does. A registered agent is a person or organization appointed by a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or filing entity as its official point of contact with the secretary of state. They are authorized to receive service of process, government correspondence, and other important documents on behalf of the appointing business.

By ensuring all appropriate documents reach the company on time, the registered agent helps the business respond promptly to legal actions or meet state requirements.

If your current resident agent resigns or is no longer available, you should appoint another one as soon as possible.

Why Does Changing a Registered Agent Require Urgency?

When changing a registered agent, you should ensure the new one assumes their duties immediately or within the period prescribed by the state. Gaps in representation can have serious implications for a business, such as:

  • Restrictions from expanding to new states—Without a designated statutory agent, most states won't accept your foreign qualification filings, hindering your business from expanding to new jurisdictions.
  • Missed legal notices—You may miss important legal notices, and court cases could proceed without your knowledge, resulting in default judgments.
  • Loss of good standing—Beyond losing the right to use your business name in the state, you could lose access to the court system for enforcing contracts, and your limited liability protections could be compromised.
  • Dissolution—The state may dissolve your business if you don't maintain a resident agent.

Reasons for Changing Your Registered Agent

A business might need to change its statutory agent for several reasons, including the following:

  • Resignation of the current agent—The current registered agent may resign, necessitating the appointment of a new one.
  • Relocation of the individual acting as the registered agent—If the person acting as the agent relocates to another state, a new registered agent who resides in the state of operation will need to be appointed.
  • Inefficiency of the current agent—If the current agent is not fulfilling their duties effectively, it might be time to consider a change.
  • Cost considerations—The business might have found a more cost-effective option for a registered agent.

If you're considering replacing your current agent due to these or other reasons, follow the relevant state laws to complete the change. If you want to avoid the hassle and regulatory setbacks, you can let Harbor Compliance do the heavy lifting and complete the process for you. Each state has specific procedures and forms for changing a resident agent, and it's important to abide by these rules to avoid regulatory setbacks during the process.

Preparing for the Change of a Registered Agent

Changing your registered agent involves careful planning and understanding of the relevant federal and state laws. While most regulations are state-specific, there are also standardized rules and regulations concerning a registered agent’s role for entities registered in the U.S., as outlined in the Model Registered Agent Act (MoRAA). For example, nearly all U.S. states and territories only accept physical registered agent addresses—a P.O. Box or virtual address will not suffice.

Your new agent must also be a resident or have a registered business in the state where your organization operates.

As you prepare to appoint a new agent, you should consider these requirements—adhering to laws ensures the secretary of state will accept your filing and recognize the new agent.

What To Consider When Selecting a New Registered Agent

When looking for a new statutory agent, you generally have two broad options, although the specifics can vary based on the state:

  1. Individuals of legal age residing in the state where your business is incorporated, provided they have a registered office (e.g., an employee, friend, family member, or even yourself)
  2. Domestic or foreign organizations licensed to operate in the state

If you need a good place to start your search, refer to our list of the best registered agent services.

An individual agent may be more familiar and personal but might lack professional experience and resources, while a commercial agent typically has more resources, including staff and systems, ensuring reliable handling of legal documents.

Regardless of the type of agent you chose, consider the following essential factors:

  • Location—Your agent must have a physical address to receive the relevant legal documents.
  • Reliability—The agent should be dependable and consistently available and present at the registered office during regular business hours.
  • Experience—Consider an agent with expertise in handling legal and tax documents.
  • Services offered—Some agents offer comprehensive services, providing added value and convenience.

How Much Does It Cost To Change a Registered Agent?

Changing a registered agent generally involves paying a filing fee charged by the state. The cost varies depending on the state you're in, but it typically ranges from $0 to $50. For example, in Maryland, it costs $25 to change your resident agent, plus $50 if you want to expedite the process. In Texas, the fee to change your statutory agent is $15.

Documents You Need for a Registered Agent Change

When changing your registered agent, you will need to complete a form known as the "Statement of Change of Registered Agent." It's the primary document required, but the exact name and format may vary depending on your state.

You'll also need to provide details about your business, including:

  • Business name
  • Physical address
  • Business identification number (if applicable)

Other essential information you'll need include:

  • The name and physical address of the outgoing and incoming agents
  • Signed consent of the incoming agent (this may be part of the form, but in some cases, a separate consent document may be required)

How To Change a Registered Agent on Your Own

The exact procedure for changing a registered agent varies depending on the state where your business is registered, but it typically involves the following steps:

  1. Download the Statement/Declaration of Change of Registered Agent form or a similar document from the relevant agency's website.
  2. Fill out the form with information about your business and the incoming and outgoing agent.
  3. Obtain the consent of the incoming resident agent.
  4. Submit the required forms to the relevant state agency, usually the office of the secretary of state.
  5. Pay the required filing fee, depending on the state's regulations and established pricing.

Notifying Relevant Parties About the Registered Agent Change

After completing the process, you should update relevant parties about the change of registered agent, including:

  • The outgoing registered agent
  • All members of your business—such as partners and board members

When informing said parties (this can be done through email, official letters, business meetings, etc.), ensure you include all necessary details about the change, such as:

  • The effective date of the change
  • Details about the new agent, especially their name/name of the organization and registered address

Changing a registered agent can be time-consuming and challenging, especially if you lack experience with filing the documents or need to change your registered agent in multiple jurisdictions. That’s where a dedicated commercial agent like Harbor Compliance comes in. We manage the change of agent process by:

  • Completing the filing
  • Remitting the filing fees
  • Confirming the approval from the state

Partnering with Harbor Compliance makes the process quick and effortless, allowing you to focus on what matters most—running your business.

Registered Agent Service By Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance offers a robust Registered Agent Service available in all U.S. states and territories, allowing you to appoint or change your agent in multiple locations without setbacks. Our comprehensive service includes:

  • Local offices in every U.S. state and territory
  • Same-day processing and delivery of time-sensitive documents
  • A phone call to the appropriate person to ensure you've received and checked legal notifications
  • Instant email notifications with secure links to our Client Portal, where you can view sent notice

We provide additional services to help your business meet other obligations. The table below shows some of the extra services Harbor Compliance offers:

Category Services
Document retrieval
lifecycle support
Ownership tracking
Tax services
Nonprofit formation

Appointing Yourself vs. Designating Harbor Compliance as Your New Registered Agent

Even though you can, appointing yourself or other individuals as your registered agent has several drawbacks, such as:

  • Availability concerns—If you appoint an individual, they may have emergencies that can prevent them from being at the office during business hours, resulting in missed legal or tax documents.
  • Loss of privacy—If you serve as your own agent, your personal address will become a public record, potentially attracting unwanted solicitations.
  • Lack of professionalism—When you appoint yourself as your agent, you increase the risk of being served in front of your colleagues and clients.

Partnering with Harbor Compliance as your registered agent has several advantages, including:

  • Reliability—Our local offices are open during regular business hours, with our team present at all times to receive important documents.
  • Secure communication—We post all notices on your Client Portal, which is secured with industry-standard protocols, ensuring unauthorized third parties don't access sensitive information.
  • National coverage—We can serve as your registered agent in all U.S. states and territories, enabling you to manage correspondence from multiple states without a hassle.
  • Expert support—If you're stuck, you can always visit our comprehensive Help Center, a resource with answers to common questions. Our dedicated support team is always ready to assist you with any queries.

How To Appoint Harbor Compliance as Your New Registered Agent

You can partner with Harbor Compliance as your registered agent in various scenarios, including when changing your registered agent. The process of replacing an agent can be quite tiring and time-consuming, but we can handle the transition seamlessly in your name.

All you have to do is order our Change of Registered Agent Service and select Add Change of Agent before checkout. We'll handle the rest—including completing the necessary paperwork and notifying the secretary of state about the change.

You can also appoint Harbor Compliance under two other circumstances:

  1. Forming a new company—To appoint us in your business formation documents (Articles of Incorporation for profit and nonprofit corporations and Articles of Organizations for LLCs), Order our Registered Agent Service and choose from our entity formation services, including incorporation, nonprofit formation, LLC formation.
  2. Expanding into a new state—Our Foreign Qualification Service package lets you obtain a certificate of authority in any U.S. state or territory and grow your business without setbacks. Complete the signup wizard, and we'll appoint Harbor Compliance as your registered agent and provide the service for a year at no additional cost.

Registered Agent FAQs

Below, you can find answers to some of the most common registered agent queries. If you can't find what you're looking for, check out our Information Center.

In nearly all U.S. states and territories, you are legally required to list a registered agent during entity formation. Some states, such as New York, may automatically designate the secretary of state as your resident agent, but you should appoint a commercial agent to get prompt notifications and dedicated services.

You can appoint yourself as your registered agent, but you'll need to be at the registered office during business hours at all times to avoid missing a notice. To ensure consistent availability and proper handling of legal documents, consider appointing a commercial registered agent service.

Yes, you can change your registered agent address at any time. You need to file the required documentation with the secretary of state's office and pay the necessary fees, depending on the state's regulations.

Enjoy the Convenience of Harbor Compliance's Registered Agent Service

Order our Registered Agent Service today to experience the convenience of having our experts receive and handle your registered agent needs.

If you want to assess whether your company meets its obligations, you can also get a free Harbor Compliance Score™. We can also help you stay on top of all other obligations, so reach out to inquire about our additional services.

We also offer a robust software solution that simplifies the process of meeting your tax, legal, and other regulatory obligations. Schedule a demonstration to have a firsthand encounter.

To learn about the registered agent duties and qualifications in different states, refer to the table below:

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