How to Find the Best Registered Agent in Pennsylvania

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To start doing business in any state, some certain steps and rules must be followed, not to mention, there is a lot of paperwork to be filed. The process is fairly simple, but for new entrepreneurs, it can seem a bit daunting.

One of the first big decisions you’ll make when forming your business entity is to select a registered agent to be on public record for your new Pennsylvania business. If you’re not sure what a registered agent is, this guide will provide the basic knowledge you’ll need and answer many commonly asked questions.

To learn more about how to set up an LLC in Pennsylvania you can click here.

What is a Pennsylvania registered agent?

In most states, a registered agent is a person or company selected by the business owner that’s willing to accept legal documents or any other official mail for your business. These documents may include tax notices, legal notices, or service of process. The registered agent will likely receive these notices by registered mail or in-person delivery. However, in Pennsylvania, business owners are only required to list a physical location, known as a registered office address, and therefore do not need to choose a person to represent them.

How does an owner select a registered agent in Pennsylvania?

An owner selects a registered agent or registered office by listing it on the Certificate of Organization or Articles of Incorporation when filing their non-profit, limited liability company or corporation with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.

Who can be a registered agent in Pennsylvania? 

In Pennsylvania, a business entity is not required to have a natural person represent them as their registered agent. Businesses are instead required to have a registered office address. There are a few options you can consider to satisfy this requirement: 

  • The business owner’s home or office address 
  • The address of a friend or family member
  • A Commercial Registered Office Provider, also known as a Commercial Registered Agent or registered agent service 

Regardless of which option you go with, it must be a physical street address, not a P.O. box, and must be open and available to receive documents during regular business hours.

Can I be my own registered agent in Pennsylvania?

Yes. A business owner can use their own address as their registered office in Pennsylvania. It’s fairly common practice in most states for the owner to be the company’s registered agent, especially if they are looking to save money. However, another employee, a friend, or even a family member can serve in this role too. A professional registered agent service can also be hired to handle incoming correspondence.

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

A registered agent service is a company you pay to receive legal documents, notify the owner of delivery, and scan the documents into an online account before mailing them to the owner. There are many reasons for companies to elect a registered agent service, but here are the most common reasons: 

  • Convenience. Some business owners may travel often or don’t have daytime availability for other reasons. If that is the case, it can be beneficial to use this kind of service, as they are guaranteed to be available during normal business hours to collect any documents that might arrive. These services also often provide users with an online account that safely and securely stores all business filings and documents in one place.
  • Peace of mind. Owners often feel more secure when a registered agent service is set up to accept documents; it ensures that nothing gets missed.
  • Privacy. Since some of the documents sent to a registered agent are sensitive, having them sent to an offsite location, instead of their business address, is best for retaining the privacy of some business owners.

How much does a registered agent service cost in Pennsylvania?

Wondering how much a registered agent service costs? For as low as $50 a year, a company will be “on-call” (available during normal business hours) to receive any documents for your business and notify you of receipt. Most companies will also offer more services for additional fees. Some of the additional services may include filing annual reports, such as the Pennsylvania Decennial Report, certificates of good standing, and any other business filings or compliance-related matters to help avoid unnecessary state fees.

List of Pennsylvania registered agent services

Pennsylvania has a long list of qualified registered agent services, but here’s a list of three choices so entrepreneurs can get an idea of what’s available. Note that all of these choices offer a broad range of services, including a registered agent service.

  • 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.

Pennsylvania registered agent FAQs

Pennsylvania Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP)is another term used in Pennsylvania to describe a professional registered agent service. You may hear them used interchangeably. 

It is a report that must be filed every ten years, on years that end with “1” (2001, 2011, 2021, etc) that is used to discover business entities that are no longer active. There is a $70 fee to file this report. 

This is the term for the legal process of informing a business entity that legal action is being taken against them, and usually involves the business owner being sent legal documents by a process server. 

Not necessarily. While the State of Pennsylvania does require all Pennsylvania LLCs or corporations to list a registered office on its formation documents, there is not a legal need to have an accompanying registered agent’s name. 

Yes. The state has a form that will need to be filed when a business needs to alert the state that there has been a change of registered office for their company. The form must be filed online or returned to the Pennsylvania Department of State. There is a $70 filing fee to complete this change with the state. 

A statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. Different states use different names. In Pennsylvania, the most common name is registered agent. Additional names include service of process agent and resident agent. 

A company has a commercial agent if a registered agent service is hired to accept documents. If a person, like an owner or a spouse, is selected, the company is said to have a non-commercial agent. In some cases, the state will ask if your company has a commercial or noncommercial registered agent, so it’s important to know the difference.

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