A registered agent in Washington is a company or a person who takes legal mail for your LLC for you in case you or your business are sued. Other synonyms include resident agent, registered office, statutory agent, or agent for service of process.

All LLCs, corporations, and registered limited partnerships in Washington need a registered agent. A registered agent also works as a point of contact for getting tax and business notices, bills, and similar documents. Documents are usually hand-delivered to the registered agent at the street address provided. They need a signature at delivery, and you have a limited time to respond to notification of a lawsuit.

The registered agent must be available throughout normal business hours to receive documents and then send them to you or the correct company personnel. The name and address of your registered agent should be listed in your Certificate of Formation, and he or she must be available during routine business hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in case Service of Process appears. Service of Process is the official delivery of legal documents like summons, complaints, or subpoenas.

Who Should Be the Registered Agent?

When you form an LLC in Washington,  you have four options:

  • Be the registered agent for your LLC.
  • Make your LLC its own registered agent.
  • Make a family member or a friend your registered agent.
  • Hire a company to be your registered agent.

Choosing a Registered Agent

If your street address is in Washington, like a home or an office, and you're free during regular business hours, you should list yourself or your LLC as the registered agent. You'll need to print and sign your name to officially consent to become the registered agent on the formation documents for your LLC. Then, you should file the paperwork with the state to become a registered agent. As a registered agent, your name and address will be public information. You can get a small amount of privacy by listing your LLC as the registered agent instead.

You are able to use a family member's or a friend's address in Washington if you don't have a street address, but he or she needs to be available during regular business hours. Also, you'll need the person's signature to make him or her your registered agent. If you don't know anyone in Washington and you don't have a street address in the state, you should hire a commercial registered agent. A commercial registered agent is the most reliable option, and it offers better privacy than being your own registered agent.

Commercial Registered Agents 

A company that receives Service of Process is called a commercial registered agent. These companies usually charge from $100 to $300 per year. After receiving Service of Process for your Washington LLC, the company will mail it to you at any address you'd like. It can also scan and email or upload your documents. With a commercial registered agent, you can take vacations without worrying about changing your registered agent address with the state. The following are some commercial registered agents in Washington:

  • IncFile
  • Incorp
  • Northwest

What Are the Risks of Making Yourself, a Friend, or a Family Member Your Registered Agent?

Risks are unlikely, but owners could lose their liability protection if they do happen. If the Washington Secretary of State can't reach your LLC's registered agent, you could lose your standing, and Washington State could close your LLC. A process server will try to reach your registered agent three or four times if you have a lawsuit against you. If he or she can't contact your registered agent, a court case could proceed against you without you or your lawyer present to defend you.

The person acting as your registered agent might not be present during regular business hours, he or she could be on vacation, or either of you could have moved and forgotten to file a Change of Registered Agent form with the Washington Secretary of State. You should tell the Washington Secretary of State - Corporations Division who your company's registered agent is. The name and the address of the registered agent will be listed in his or her public records for anyone who wants to send your business an official legal document.

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