Being new to the business industry is no easy task. There are numerous requirements that you need to meet and several permits and licenses that you must acquire. One of the critical requirements you need to start a business or a company is a registered agent. So, you may ask yourself the question: “Who exactly is a registered agent?” In this article, you will find answers to some of the common questions regarding registered agents in the State of North Carolina.
Who Is a North Carolina Registered Agent?
Perhaps you are new to the business or you plan to start your own business; then you stumbled upon the term “registered agent.” You may be wondering, who exactly is a registered agent? Simply put, a registered agent is someone who serves as the point of contact for all the legal notices and mails meant for a company. He/She receives all the legal notices, such as lawsuits meant for your company. Registered agents are also sometimes called the agent for service of process, or resident agent, or statutory agent.
The registered agent you choose for your business must be someone who is residing in the same state where your business is based. For example, suppose the main office of your business is in North Carolina, the permanent address of your registered agent must also be in the State of North Carolina. In addition to residing in the same state as your company, your registered agent’s address must be available to receive legal notices as well as emails that are meant for your company during regular business hours.
Choosing a good registered agent is crucial for a company, as it ensures that your company’s legal matters will be handled correctly, and you get to receive the appropriate legal documents designated to your company at the right time. A good registered agent also ensures that you don’t receive or you receive fewer junk mails. Moreover, your address and contact info won’t be available to the public. A wrong choice with who you choose as your registered agent comes with a lot of consequences, such as mishandling the company’s legal documents. Therefore, it’s best if you choose your registered agent carefully.
Who Can Be a North Carolina Registered Agent?
As a business owner, you have the right to choose your registered agent. You can either hire an individual as your registered agent or a company to serve as your registered agent. It is highly recommended that you choose a professional service company as your registered agent rather than being your own registered agent.
In numerous states, including the State of North Carolina, you are allowed to designate an individual as your registered agent. However, you cannot just choose random individuals, as these individuals must meet specific requirements. For example, to be a registered agent in the State of North Carolina, an individual must meet the following requirements:
- He/She must reside permanently in the State of North Carolina.
- He/She must allow his/her name and address to be known publicly and be included in North Carolina’s registered agents’ record. (It is important to know that the street address of the individual must be within the State of North Carolina. This address is referred to as the registered address. Another essential thing to note is that mailboxes or P.O. boxes are not allowed to be used as the registered address because the documents delivered to the registered agent are usually confidential and need the agent’s signature).
- Lastly, the individual designated to be the registered agent must always be available at the address mentioned during the usual business hours. This ensures that if a legal notice or mail is sent during business hours, the agent is at the registered address to receive it.
When choosing an individual as your registered agent, keep in mind that such a person also has personal matters such as meetings, travels, days off, etc for which they may not be available at all times. This means that there is a risk that you might miss critical legal matters or receive them late, which is an important reason why it is better to hire a professional service company as your registered agent than an individual, as a service company is always available to receive papers at any time on your behalf.
Can I be My Own Registered Agent in North Carolina?
Yes, You can if you meet the following criteria:
a) You are 18 years or older
b) You have a physical address in North Carolina
c) You must always be available at your physical address during business hours to receive legal or business communication.
How to Designate a North Carolina Registered Agent?
Designating a North Carolina Registered Agent depends on the legal structure of the business you are planning to run. If you are planning to start a Corporation in the state of North Carolina, your registered agent and his office will be designated in the Articles of Incorporation. Meanwhile, if your business is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you’ll have to designate your registered agent and his office in the Articles of Organization. The formation documents can be submitted online or non-electronically through the mail.
In a situation whereby you already have your business but without a Registered Agent, probably because your agent resigned, the State of North Carolina has a way for you to designate another registered agent. You’ll do this by filing Form BE-05: Designation of Registered Office Address and/or Registered Agent document which can be found in this link.
How North Carolina Residents Get Served Summons?
Being served a summons is perhaps the most crucial part of a registered agent’s job. In the State of North Carolina, a summons will be processed after the plaintiff has first filed a claim with the Office of the Clerk in the right county. Only forms that are specific to the county will be considered and the plaintiff must file 3 copies of the magistrate summons and complaints, an affidavit, and pay a filing fee of 96 dollars to the clerk of the county that’ll process the summons.
If all of these requirements are met, the North Carolina State will then send a summons to the defendant’s registered agent through the plaintiff him/herself, through the mail, or the Sheriff (for an extra fee of 30 dollars only).
How to Change My North Carolina Registered Agent?
To change your registered agent in the State of North Carolina, file for the Statement of Change of Registered Agent/Office with the Secretary of the State of North Carolina. You’ll be required to pay a fee of 5 dollars as a filing fee. The fee can be paid with your credit card or with a check. After completing the form and paying the filing fee, you can submit it online or non-electronically through the mail or in person.
How North Carolina Registered Agents Resign?
There may be instances whereby your registered agent may decide to let go of his position. This means that you would need to find another registered agent. Therefore, the question is, how does a North Carolina registered agent resign from his post? The agent will start by filling out the document called the Statement of resignation of Registered Agent in North Carolina with the Secretary of the State of North Carolina. The name of the business and the address of the business is information that will be required in the form. Note that there is no fee for filling out this form, and the Secretary of the State of North Carolina will take between 5 to 7 working days to process the request.
What are the Penalties for Not Having a Registered Agent in North Carolina?
As mentioned above, you need to have a registered agent to form a corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Should there be an instance whereby you let your agent lapse, you may face some severe consequences. One of the consequences of failing to have a registered agent in the state of North Carolina is that you may lose your good standing in the State of North Carolina. Furthermore, the state of North Carolina also has the power to dissolve your company or your limited liability company administratively/involuntarily if they so decide. More than that, since registered agents handle the legal notices when your business is being sued, you may have legal issues when it comes to lawsuits.
If the court cannot contact your registered agent because you do not have one, the lawsuit may ensue without your knowledge, and the court may reach a judgment against you, all of which you may have no idea about until the verdict has been passed. These are only some of the consequences of not having a registered agent. If you lose your registered agent either because he resigned or because of some other reason, it is highly recommended that you hire another one immediately.
How Much Does a Registered Agent in North Carolina Cost?
$50-$300/year with the most affordable commercial registered agent service providers.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Registered Agent Service in North Carolina?
As the name suggests, professional registered agent services are professionals in the field. This means that they know the inside-out of being a registered agent. In addition to that, a professional registered agent service company is always available for receiving legal notices and other mail meant for a business. This is a huge plus compared to individual registered agents wherein they may not be available on certain days due to meetings, days off, or other personal matters.
One of the benefits of hiring a professional registered agent service is privacy. As a business owner, you can keep your address private since the address displayed will be that of the professional registered agent service. Another advantage of having a professional registered agent service is that it is way cheaper than hiring an accountant or a lawyer as your registered agent.
As professionals, the registered agent service companies know exactly what needs to be done and they do precisely what is expected of them. Also, you will face only minimal issues as the business owner since most of the service companies already have much experience. Another significant benefit of having a professional registered agent service is that they are available in all the States of America, which means that you will surely find one regardless of which state your business is based in at a particular time. Furthermore, suppose you have plans to expand your business to another state. In that case, you no longer need to hire another agent since most service companies have branches all over the country.
Assigning a registered agent is not difficult, at the same time, it is not as straightforward either. Keep in mind all the factors that you need to consider when hiring an agent to make the process as smooth as possible. Again, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional registered agent service as they prove to be more effective with a vast amount of experience and also more beneficial than hiring an individual as your company registered agent in the State of North Carolina.
Is the registered agent really necessary?
Yes, it’s required by law if you’re running a corporation in North Carolina. In fact, it’s required in almost all states (except for New York state).
Do I have to hire a statutory agent instead of a registered agent?
They’re the same thing. There are several alternate terms for registered agents, including statutory agents, registered agents, and sometimes service of process agents.
Service of Process; what does it mean?
Service of process refers to collecting legal documents like a summons; which is an order to appear before a court because of a waiting court case.
Are there any free registered agent services?
Technically, you will have to spend some money. However, the term “free registered agent services” may refer to what some online incorporation services offer as incorporation packages. Some of the best online incorporation services charge only a modest fee to file your formation documents for you. But they may also act as your registered agent, without an additional charge. This is a terrific offer.
However, the “free” aspect may only last a single year. You generally have to renew the services each year, and you’d have to pay for the registered agent services for the following year.
Can’t a family member (like a spouse) act as my registered agent?
Yes, they can and you may even have your own home listed as your registered agent address. But they have to stay home to receive the documents during business hours. They can’t leave without anybody at home.
In addition, you will then have your address listed in public records. That won’t do much for your privacy.
What happens if the registered agent service doesn’t forward the received official documents?
They can be held liable. But this generally never happens, especially with the more reputable services. With the good services, they have people (not just one) in the physical address to receive the official documents. They then scan the documents immediately and then give you official notice regarding the documents.
This usually only happens when you don’t use a professional registered agent service. If you have a buddy acting as your registered agent, then they may just forget to tell you about it!