- What is a registered agent?
- What are Washington’s registered agent requirements?
- Who should serve as your registered agent?
Q: What is a registered agent, and how is it different in Washington? How do I find a registered agent if I’ve never been to the state?
A: A registered agent is an individual designated to handle official correspondence between your business and the government. In Washington, your registered agent only needs to be 18 years old or older, live in the state, and be available during business hours. If you’re looking for a registered agent in an area you’re unfamiliar with, it’s best to use a registered agent service.
Modern technology has made starting a new business more cost-efficient and streamlined than ever before.
Digital business is booming, and with the introduction of Virtual Offices, entrepreneurs can register their businesses for a fraction of the cost of a traditional office — anywhere in the country.
Easy access to each of the 50 states means that business owners can choose to incorporate in whichever state they’d like.
Regardless of their decision, the process of registering a business is similar from state to state. The key is finding a state with the best tax benefits, the most reasonable registration fees, and a solid target customer base.
You’ll have a tough time finding one state that perfectly meets all your criteria. So, it makes more sense to find a state that meets the majority of your needs.
Washington is a state with attractive tax benefits, fair registration costs, and rapid growth.
Creating an LLC in Washington isn’t all that different from incorporating in any other state. That said, if you aren’t living in Washington, you might not know many individuals in the area.
If this is the case, finding a Washington registered agent might be a bit difficult. Thankfully, we’ve created an actionable guide that explains the specific requirements for a Washington registered agent. We’ve also listed a few registered agent services you can use.
Registering a new LLC is easier than ever, but it still takes a lot of work.
In this article, you’ll learn what a registered agent is, what the Washington registered agent requirements are, who should fill this role for your business, and how you can use a Washington registered agent.
So, if you’ve ever wondered about how you can set up an LLC, how to find a registered agent, or how to make the transition to digital business, you’re in the right place. Keep reading for more information!
- What is a registered agent?
- What are Washington’s registered agent requirements?
- Who should serve as your registered agent?
- Washington registered agents in conjunction with other virtual solutions
What is a registered agent?
Before we dig too deeply into the Washington registered agent search, let’s take some time to explore what a registered agent is.
A registered agent is someone designated to receive mail on a company’s behalf. They’re responsible for receiving any mail about the company’s standing and any communications from the government.
Every single state requires their businesses to appoint a registered agent. While the exact rules vary from state to state, you won’t be able to start a business without one.
In Tennessee, for example, your registered agent must be available at a physical address in the state during regular business hours — and your agent’s physical address and name will be added to the public domain.
Alternatively, in Nevada you only need to appoint a registered agent to be compliant – without any additional requirements.
Several states require your registered agent to have an address in the state where your business is registered. In these situations, PO boxes and other addresses that aren’t backed by physical space won’t work.
Essentially, your registered agent is your business’ ambassador for communication with the government.
While this might sound pointless, it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Consider a subpoena, a notice of an upcoming lawsuit, or other sensitive government documents.
Sure — most business owners would handle these documents with the poise and professionality they require, but some business owners wouldn’t be as honest.
Without a registered agent, the government is relying on your word versus their word.
This creates situations where business owners claim that they didn’t receive documents while the government insists that they did.
Adding a third individual into the mix who is solely responsible for handling these documents removes the possibility of logistical confusion, unreceived documents, or other clerical mishaps.
Even if you’re in a state that allows you to act as your own registered agent, it’s almost never a good idea to do so.
Now that you know what registered agents are and what they do, let’s look at the specifics of a Washington registered agent.
What are Washington’s registered agent requirements?
The registered agent requirements are very similar throughout the country, so the rules for Washington are generally the same as other states.
Below, we’ve listed the Washington registered agent requirements to help you understand exactly what you should be looking for to effectively incorporate in Washington state:
- Age requirements
- Address requirements
- Business hour availability requirements
As you might have guessed, you cannot appoint a registered agent that isn’t an adult.
Your Washington registered agent needs to be above the age of 18.
Even if you’re a minor who has started a business, your registered agent in Washington state will still need to be an adult.
Your Washington registered agent will need to have an address physically located in the state.
In Washington, PO boxes and virtual offices that aren’t backed by physical space won’t work.
The government wants to have easy access to your registered agent when necessary, so PO boxes and virtual offices can make correspondence difficult.
With a Washington registered agent that lives in the state, the government of Washington will have a much easier time communicating with your registered agent.
This doesn’t mean that you should be looking for a Washington registered agent in Spokane or another more densely populated area — it just means that you need a registered agent with a physical address in the state.
Business hour availability requirements
Finally, your registered agent must be physically present at the address provided during all operating hours.
If your business is listed as open, you need your agent to be available at their provided address so they can receive documents and correspondences.
When trying to act as your own registered agent, Washington requirements will cause any government documents to be sent directly to the address you provided.
This means that you could potentially receive embarrassing letters, subpoenas, or other sensitive documents in front of customers or clients if you’ve used the same address as your official business address.
Or worse yet, these sensitive documents could show up on your doorstep if you’re a remote worker.
These requirements make it risky to appoint friends or acquaintances to the position.
Remember, your registered agent needs to be available for the entirety of your business day. If you’re using some college buddy as your Washington registered agent, there’s a good chance they won’t be taking your business needs very seriously.
Thankfully, there are more options available, and there’s no need to appoint a friend or a neighbor as your registered agent. Instead, you can take advantage of several services to find a professional Washington registered agent.
Frequently asked questions about appointing a Washington registered agent
Before we move on, let’s look at some frequently asked questions about the specifics of a Washington registered agent:
- How do I become a registered agent in Washington?
- Can I use myself as a registered agent?
- Can my business act as its own registered agent?
How do I become a registered agent in Washington?
So long as you’re over 18, have an address in Washington, and are available during the business’ operating hours, you’re good to go.
Can I use myself as a registered agent?
Yes. If you’re over 18, have a Washington address, and are available during your business’ operating hours, you can serve as your business’ registered agent.
That said, it’s usually not a great idea to do so.
Can my business act as its own registered agent?
No, your business cannot act as a registered agent for itself. You can use services that are designed to act as registered agents, but your business itself is unable to fill this role.
With a Washington registered agent, LLC owners in the state are ready to start doing business.
The key is finding an individual or entity who can effectively fill the role.
Who should serve as your registered agent?
If you’re a Washington resident and your business is registered in the state, you might feel tempted to serve as your own registered agent.
This might seem like a good way to save time and money, but it’s often not worth the trouble.
Below, we’ve listed some of the clearest negatives associated with acting as your own registered agent:
- Added responsibilities
- Higher chance for extraneous fees and fines
- Lack of privacy
- Makes growth confusing
The entire purpose of having a registered agent is to have an individual or entity that handles any possible government correspondence.
When you act as your own registered agent, you are responsible for all communication with the state.
This means you must stay on top of all your mail — diligently responding to everything that comes your way.
Unfortunately, missed correspondence and untimely responses may have serious consequences.
Higher chance for extraneous fees and fines
Should you miss an important piece of mail, there’s an excellent chance that you’ll wind up with hefty late fees or fines. You might even run into serious legal trouble that can compromise your LLC.
For example, say you’ve been sued by an unhappy client or individual. If you don’t respond promptly, there’s a high probability that the judge will simply side with the opposing party.
Another risk of acting as a registered agent for your own business is losing your ability to renew your certificate of Good Standing. Without this, you risk personal liability until your business has rectified this issue.
Lack of privacy
You shouldn’t act as a registered agent for your business for the same reason you shouldn’t register your business with your home address.
When you appoint your Washington registered agent, you’ll be responsible for providing that individual’s name and address. Once an address has made it into the public domain, it’s difficult to remove it.
For instance, imagine that you’ve started a business in Washington state. To protect your privacy and focus on the digital-first market, you’ve used a high-quality Virtual Office to register your LLC.
As of now, your information hasn’t hit public record. However, if you decide to act as your business’ registered agent, you’ll be forced to make your home address public – meaning, the privacy offered by your Virtual Office becomes pointless.
Makes growth confusing
As your business grows, you’ll undoubtedly look to expand.
The cost-efficient nature of Virtual Offices makes expansion a breeze, especially when you’re looking to register your business in additional states.
Unfortunately, when you register your business in another state, you’ll need registered agents in these new states — and you won’t be able to act as a registered agent in multiple states.
As you can see, being a business owner and a registered agent for that business isn’t a great idea. Thankfully, there is an alternative.
Your best bet is to use a professional registered agent service. Below, we’ve listed two separate services that you can use, as well as some information about each.
Inc Authority has been in business for over 30 years and has helped form over a quarter of a million businesses.
While Inc Authority does provide registered agent services, they’re mostly geared towards the full-service business formation. This means that there are several other services that you can find on their website.
If you want to check out some Washington registered agent reviews, visit TrustPilot to see what other entrepreneurs are saying about Inc Authority!
Based in Seattle, Washington, and Las Vegas, Nevada, Anderson is a consulting law firm that focuses on business planning and providing excellent services to business owners, real estate investors, solopreneurs, and more.
Similar to Inc Authority, Anderson provides Washington registered agent services and a whole slew of other tools for entrepreneurs.
One benefit to using Anderson is the fee structure. Instead of charging by the hour like similar organizations, Anderson works on a fee-based system that includes the cost of creating and implementing plans.
This way, the businesses that use their services are taking an active role in the process and both parties stay on the same page throughout their contract.
Washington registered agents in conjunction with other virtual solutions.
Unless you know an individual you can trust completely who is okay with giving up some of their privacy, it’s almost always better to use a registered agent service like Inc Authority or Anderson.
Regardless of the service you decide to use, you can benefit from additional services provided by Alliance Virtual Offices.
With one of our Virtual Offices, business owners can register their digital businesses in any state they’d like without risking the capital that traditional growth once required.
Instead, entrepreneurs now have easy access to professional and well-known addresses all over the nation. Each of our Virtual Offices is backed by a physical location, making it easy to break the monotony of working exclusively from home.
Historically, business leases were prohibitively expensive, had multi-year-minimum commitments, and came with countless utility charges.
At Alliance, our minimum term commitment is the industry standard of six months, and you don’t have to worry about additional office upkeep charges. Setting up your Virtual Office is easier than ever.
Read more: How to Set Up a Virtual Office
Because our Virtual Offices are a modern, cost-effective alternative to traditional business space, they work exceedingly well with other modern solutions.
Utilizing one of our trusted registered agent partners, you can ensure that you have a registered agent in any state you need. Take advantage of the streamlined scalability of a Virtual Office by using a flexible registered agent service that can meet you anywhere you decide to register your business.
One of the most notable benefits of using a registered agent service like Inc Authority or Anderson is the increased focus you can give to your business’ daily operations.
Acting as your registered agent takes valuable time away from your business — and the penalty for shirking your duties as a registered agent is almost as detrimental as ignoring your business.