How to Find the Best Registered Agent in South Carolina

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Whether a business owner is forming a corporation, nonprofit, or limited liability company (LLC) in South Carolina, one of the first steps in the process will be choosing a registered agent (sometimes referred to as a resident agent) to have on public record with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office.  

This guide will assist entrepreneurs with selecting a registered agent for their new business and provide useful answers to frequently asked questions. To better understand how a registered agent fits in the process of starting a South Carolina business you can find more information about how to start a South Carolina LLC here.

What is a South Carolina registered agent?

Choosing a registered agent for your company is an important decision. A registered agent is the point of contact that accepts business documents and legal documents on behalf of your business entity. It’s an important role since this person will likely handle sensitive documents like financial statements, tax notices, or service of process. These legal notices can be sensitive in nature and are usually delivered by certified mail or delivered in-person by process servers.

How does an owner select a registered agent in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, business owners must file LLC formation documents (sometimes referred to as Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation) on which the owner is asked to specify the company’s registered agent. The registered agent’s name and agent’s address need to be listed on these documents. Once the LLC formation documents are filed with the State of South Carolina, Division of Business Filings, the registered agent is officially selected.

Who can be a registered agent in South Carolina? 

In South Carolina, the state requirements for a registered agent are:

  • A South Carolina resident with a street address (must be a physical address, not a P.O. box)
  • A South Carolina company in good standing with a physical office address (also not a P.O. box)
  • A person or company with availability during normal business hours, Monday through Friday

Can I be my own registered agent in South Carolina?

Yes. The business owner can fill the role of registered agent, and many do. If you plan to work at the business’s registered office regularly and are available during normal business hours, it’s a good choice. However, the owner can select a different person such as a family member, employee, or professional registered agent service.

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

A registered agent service can act as a company’s registered agent for a fee. The company will collect documents and notify you when they arrive. These services also usually scan the documents and upload them to a confidential online account and then mail the originals to the business owner. There’s a series of notifications that occur when a document arrives as well, which varies by the company, but usually includes electronic messages and a phone call.

Many owners say working with a registered agent service is beneficial. Benefits include: 

  • Convenience. Assigning a registered agent service is quick, simple, and affordable. With a service, owners don’t have to alter their schedules or make sure they’re available during normal business hours. It’s convenient.
  • Peace of mind. Registered agent services manage documents for many companies and are experienced at accepting and notifying owners. For many entrepreneurs, this level of expertise provides peace of mind.
  • Privacy. In the event that your company is sued, the registered agent will be “served” documents. Process servers deliver what’s called service of process papers in-person. While it may not ever happen, if it does, owners prefer that it happen offsite for obvious privacy reasons.

How much does a registered agent service cost in South Carolina?

It’s always important to consider costs. After all, starting a business isn’t cheap. However, a registered agent service is typically a small yearly expense. For basic services, where a company accepts documents and notifies you, it’s about $50 a year (not including additional state fees for certain filings). 

There are other companies with higher annual fees, but they also offer more features. It’s important to compare features to select the best registered agent for your company. Some of these features can be:

  • annual reports reminders 
  • certificate of good standing assistance 
  • assistance with your business license, operating agreement, or other general business help

List of South Carolina registered agent services 

Every state has qualified registered agent services that are ready and willing to serve as your LLCs registered agent. A Google search can provide a list of available companies in your area, but here’s a list to browse:

  • 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.

South Carolina registered agent FAQs

Yes. The State of South Carolina, along with every other state in the U.S., requires all LLCs to have a registered agent. 

Yes. A business has the ability to change its registered agent. Simply file a Notice of Change of Registered Agent form with the Secretary of State and pay the $10 filing fee. 

Some states call a registered agent a statutory agent. There are several different names for this role. Service of process agent and resident agent are also used. The name used depends on the state.

You may be asked if your company has a commercial agent or a non-commercial agent. If your company pays a registered agent service, your company has a commercial registered agent. If there’s a person within the company who holds this position, your company has a non-commercial agent.

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