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Ready to turn your business idea into a reality? If so, you’re probably wondering how to go about setting up a business in New Jersey. Establishing a business in any state requires LLC formation documents to be filed and a registered agent to be selected. 

The LLC formation documents in New Jersey are called Certificate of Formation. It’s a simple one-page document that asks for a few details about your new business. One of the things the document asks for is a registered agent. 

A registered agent is a person or company that agrees to serve as your company’s point of contact. The person or company in this position will receive documents on behalf of your business. These documents could be tax notifications, government correspondence, or service of process documents that are served during a lawsuit. 

To help entrepreneurs file LLC formation paperwork and select a qualified registered agent, this guide will provide helpful instructions. 

How is an LLC formed in New Jersey?

In the State of New Jersey, the LLC formation paperwork is called a Certificate of Formation. It’s filed with the New Jersey Department of Treasury, Division of Revenue & Enterprise Services. However, before this document can be submitted, there are several items that an entrepreneur must do. 

Here are steps to follow to establish a business in the State of New Jersey:

1. Name the company

What’s the name of your new company? If you have a name in mind, it’s time to run that name through a statewide business database to make sure no other company is currently using it. If the name is already in use, you’ll have to use a variation or a different name altogether. 

In New Jersey, no two businesses can have the same name. To avoid this problem, conduct a search on the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services.

Finding an available name is only part of the equation. In New Jersey, as in other states, there are a few additional rules entrepreneurs should be aware of when naming a company. The rules include: 

  • The company name must include “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC” in the title. 
  • The name can’t be confused with any government agency or give the public the idea that the company is associated with the government. 
  • There are names that may require additional approvals from the state. Names that make claims, for example, may need to be substantiated. 

Don’t forget to look into the company’s domain name too. If the domain name that matches the company name isn’t available, it’s something you should know about before officially selecting the name. 

2. Pick a registered agent

Before filling out the Certificate of Formation, entrepreneurs should know who will serve as the company’s registered agent. A registered agent should be trustworthy since this person or company will receive official documents on behalf of your business. 

The registered agent must be aware of this role. In other words, an owner can’t just nominate a board member or the CEO to hold this role without speaking to that person first. The registered agent must know about the responsibilities and agree to them. 

There are many different people that can fill this role, including the owner or another company employee. A registered agent service can also fill this role. (We’ll explore who can and can’t be a registered agent in the eye’s of New Jersey law in a later section). 

3. File the Certificate of Organization

You’re ready to file the official document that forms a company in the state. To do so, you’ll fill out a Public Record Filing with the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services. Once it’s approved, the business receives a Certificate of Formation.

If the document is filed online, the State of New Jersey can issue the certificate within 5-30 minutes. Filing online is the fastest option, but entrepreneurs can also file by mail or in-person. 

This document will ask for the company name, company address, registered agent’s name and address, the company’s start date, a list of services or products that will be provided to the public, and possibly a list of managing members. The LLC organizer needs to sign and submit the document for state approval.

The cost to file this document with the state is $125.

4. Create a company operating agreement

The State of New Jersey doesn’t require companies to create an operating agreement, but it’s advisable. An operating agreement explains the company’s rules, regulations, and provisions. It explores how the company functions, explains the decision-making process, and outlines the hierarchy that’s in place. The document should also spell out the company’s financial obligations, how investors are involved, and discuss how profits and losses are handled.  

5. Obtain an EIN

An EIN is required to do business. The EIN, or employer identification number, is a nine-digit number that’s given out by the IRS. The IRS uses these numbers as a way to track business taxes, but other entities like banks require them as well. 

To get an EIN, go to the IRS website, fill out a few questions, and receive the number instantly.

6. File an annual report

Most states require LLCs to file an annual report and New Jersey is no different. The report must be filed by the company’s formation anniversary each year. The cost to file an annual report is $50. 

What is a New Jersey registered agent?

A New Jersey registered agent receives documents for your company. This person or company should be trustworthy and available during regular business hours to accept documents that can be delivered by mail or in-person.

Do I really need a registered agent in New Jersey?

Yes. The State of New Jersey requires all LLCs to list a registered agent. Should the state or another agency need to contact your company, there must be a contact name on file.

Can I be my own registered agent in New Jersey?

Yes. The owner can serve as the company’s registered agent. The owner can also select a different person or company, like an employee, friend, or registered agent service. 

Who can be a registered agent in New Jersey? 

In New Jersey, a registered agent can be any resident or company with a physical street address. This includes registered agent services that accept documents for your company and notify you when they arrive. 

Whether a person or a company fills the role, there must be someone at that location to accept documents during regular business hours. 

Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service? 

A registered agent service can serve as your company’s registered agent for a fee. The service will collect documents and notify the owner, or a list of contacts if desired, when a document arrives. These companies also offer same-day document scans so they can be viewed immediately. 

There are perks for selecting a registered agent service. Here are several reasons why owners opt for a service as opposed to doing the job themselves:

  • AvailabilityMany owners don’t have availability during the day that’s at one specific location. If the owner doesn’t work from the office with regularity, it makes sense to assign a different person or company to the role of registered agent. 
  • Peace of mindA registered agent service is hired to receive documents and notify the owner. They are always ready to receive documents and maintain a list of contacts to connect with when a document is received. For most owners, that provides peace of mind. 
  • PrivacySome owners prefer documents of a sensitive nature be delivered to an offsite location for privacy purposes.

List of New Jersey registered agent services 

Interested in a registered agent service? There are plenty of qualified companies to choose from. The list below explores three different companies that offer extensive services, including registered agent services. 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

How much does a registered agent service cost in New Jersey?

A registered agent can cost as low as $50 a year or as much as $250 a year. The cost varies based on the number of features offered. The $50 fee provides basic features like mail forwarding and contacting an owner when notices arrive. More expensive companies offer assistance with reports, file storage, and access to business experts. 

How does an owner select a registered agent in New Jersey?

Selecting a registered agent is done by listing the person or company on the LLC formation document. 

Can a company change its registered agent?

Yes. A registered agent can be updated online through the NJ Division of Revenue website. The fee to file this change is $25.

What’s a statutory agent?

A statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. The title varies by state. Most states use registered agent, but you may hear the term statutory agent, service of process agent, or even resident agent used to describe this job.

What’s a commercial registered agent?

A commercial registered agent is a registered agent service. If you pay someone to fill this role, it’s considered a commercial agent. If an employee or the owner holds the role of registered agent, it’s considered a non-commercial agent.