Starting a business? Our number one pick for registered agent services is ZenBusiness
Selecting a registered agent is part of setting up a business in Delaware. For those interested in establishing a corporation, non-profit, or a limited liability company (LLC), in The First State, it’s a requirement and an important decision.
To help with your new business planning, we’ll provide a deeper explanation of a registered agent, answer frequently asked questions on the topic, and provide a list of registered agent services that are available in the state.
What is a Delaware registered agent?
Think of the registered agent as the point of contact between the Delaware Division of Corporations (state of Delaware) and your company. The registered agent accepts formal documentation on the company’s behalf, like tax notifications, reminders to submit your annual franchise tax report, other annual reports, or legal documents like service of processes, which are papers filed during a lawsuit.
The person, agency, or business entity that’s selected as your registered agent must be specified on the company’s formation documents, known as the Certification of Formation or Certificate of Incorporation.
How does an owner select a registered agent in Delaware?
A registered agent must be chosen when a business is formed in the state, but how do you officially declare a registered agent? When an entrepreneur is filling out the formation documents for their business entity, there is a form called a Certificate of Formation (sometimes called Articles of Formation or Articles of Incorporation). These documents will ask you to declare the company’s registered agent so it can be formally listed on public record. If the registered agent is a friend or a service, a signature is required on the paperwork so everyone acknowledges their role.
Who can be a registered agent in Delaware?
An owner can be a registered agent, but there are other options as well. Entrepreneurs can also select another person from the company or a trusted friend, family member, or business entity for this role. A company can also work with registered agent services. These services are set up to be the point-person for several companies, which could include yours.
However, not just anyone can satisfy this role. The state of Delaware has a few requirements:
- Be 18 years old or older
- Have a physical street address in Delaware, not a P.O. box
- Be available to receive documents during normal business hours on normal business days
Can I be my own registered agent in Delaware?
Yes. A business owner can serve as their own registered agent in Delaware, as long as they are 18-years-old and available at a physical address in Delaware during regular business hours.
Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service?
Many entrepreneurs are their own registered agents, but there are some benefits to working with a Delaware registered agent. Here’s why people opt for a service company:
- Convenience. To minimize administrative chores, entrepreneurs like working with a registered agent service as it can ease the workload. These services also often provide users with an online account that safely and securely stores all business filings and documents in one place.
- Multi-state company. Entrepreneurs with multiple companies in different states may need an agent service to be their point-person and to ensure no legal documents or state filing fees are missed.
- Privacy. A service provides a layer of privacy for owners. If a company is sued, for example, the papers are served to the registered office address (also the address on public record), not the owner or actual business address. While the service will reach out discreetly to the owner about the documentation, the papers aren’t served to an owner in front of their employees or customers.
- Experience. When it comes to matters of corporate law or state law, things can get complicated quickly. A registered agent service will have trusted experience from working with other business entities and can even offer additional services to help you run your business well and keep you in good standing with the state.
How much does a registered agent service cost in Delaware?
The cost of one of the best registered agent services in the state could range anywhere between $60-300 per year. Many of these services offer add-ons as well.
For example, entrepreneurs can take advantage of business formation or incorporation service, which provides assistance filing the paperwork to create an LLC, corporation, or non-profit.
They can also assist with:
- Filing annual reports
- Providing legal services
- Monitoring due dates and renewals so your LLC or other business entity doesn’t acquire any unnecessary state fees or risk losing its business license
List of Delaware registered agent services
Delaware has many registered agent services available. Entrepreneurs can run a quick Google search for available services or find a full list of agencies on the state of Delaware’s website. To help expedite the selection process, here are several of the best Delaware registered agent services:
- ZenBusiness: ZenBusiness is fairly new to the market, but they’ve grown a strong following. Business owners love the affordable rates for a registered agent service, which are as low as $99 per year. The company offers worry-free compliance too, to help business owners file the necessary reports on time.
- Northwest Registered Agent: Northwest is one of the most recognized names in the registered agent business. The company has decades of experience and local offices scattered across the U.S. to serve small businesses like yours. The cost for a registered agent service is comparable to others. Business owners can also take advantage of additional services like report filing.
- Incfile: Incfile is another trusted name for business services, including its registered agent services. Business owners can get a registered agent free for a year. That’s right, free. After the first year, the price kicks in at $119. An online dashboard, automatic mail forwarding, and tailored notifications also come with the service.
Delaware registered agent FAQs
Yes. Delaware law and bylaws require a registered agent to be assigned to every LLC formed in Delaware. If you don’t select a registered agent and file it with the state, a company won’t be considered in good standing with the state, which can result in penalties and fines.
Yes. It’s possible to change a registered agent at any time. In Delaware, companies make the change through the Delaware Secretary of State website. In addition to filing new contact information, a signature is also required. There is a $50 fee to file a change of agent form.
It’s important to note that Delaware businesses not in good standing with the Delaware Division of Corporations cannot make this change.
Yes, you can resign as a registered agent in just a few steps:
1. Decide and clarify whether or not you will be appointing a successor to take your place.
2. Notify the company you represent of your resignation by written notice.
3. Complete the correct form to file with the state and mail it to the Secretary of State. The form to use when you’re not appointing a successor can be found here. If you will be appointing a successor there is no official form, instead, you will create a statement of resignation that must include the following:
- Your name
- A statement of resignation
- Confirmation that written notice was given to the business you are resigning from
- Name of the business you are resigning from & their business structure
- Your mailing address
- Your signature
4. Include a cover letter and payment for the correlating state fee (the fee is $90 with a successor and $2 without a successor).
Entrepreneurs may have come across the term “statutory agent” during their research. A statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. The name changes by state. A registered agent is also referred to as a resident agent or a service of process agent.
When a Delaware corporation or Delaware LLC is formed and a registered agent is selected, the company owner might be asked if the agent is commercial or non-commercial. A commercial agent is any registered agent service. A non-commercial agent is any one person, be it the owner, a friend, or a coworker, who serves as the agent.