A Washington DC Registered Agent is a person or business designated to receive service of process on behalf of an LLC. Service of process involves legal documents like the notice of a lawsuit, summons, subpoenas, etc. The registered agent may also receive correspondence from DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. These include payment reminders, tax notices, and more.
Service of process and this communication needs to be delivered to a physical street address. For this reason, the agent must maintain a physical street address within Washington DC. Every LLC must appoint and maintain a registered agent in DC.
In DC, an LLC’s Articles of Organization won’t be accepted unless a Registered Agent (RA) is appointed. Similarly, it is necessary to maintain an RA at all times. Failure to do this can have legal and administrative repercussions.
Legal Requirements Of A Washington DC Registered Agent
Washington DC has straightforward requirements that decide the qualifications of an RA. These are simple steps and leave plenty of room for the LLC to choose its agent. These are:
- The agent must have a physical street address in Washington DC. This cannot be a PO Box address.
- If the agent is a person, she or he must be capable of receiving legal documents.
- If the agent is a business, it must have permission to do business in Washington DC.
Technically, many businesses can qualify for this role. However, the business entity as RA is usually a commercial registered agent. These are businesses that offer their services in exchange for a fee.
It’s worth noting that merely qualifying the requirements shouldn’t be the deciding criteria. As we see, these requirements leave plenty of room to take your pick. But, an equally important aspect is knowing if the RA can handle the responsibilities of this role. At the very least, the RA should be capable of handling the following responsibilities:
- The agent must maintain a physical address. This is the registered office of the LLC and where service of process and official mail arrives.
- The agent must be available at the office during normal business hours (9 am to 5 pm).
- If service of process arrives, the agent must receive it and inform the business immediately.
- The agent must receive certified mail from the state if it arrives and let the business know about it.
Who Can Be The Registered Agent – Making Your Choice
After noticing the requirements and responsibilities, you might wonder if it might be possible to be your own registered agent. Yes, you can be your own registered agent in DC. While there are several choices available, most LLCs go with the following options:
- You can be your own registered agent.
- Appoint friends or family members.
- Hire a commercial registered agent.
Being your own registered agent can often appear as the simplest choice. It costs nothing and who better to be your LLC’s registered agent than you? The same logic can also extend to appointing family or friends.
But there’s more to consider before you take the plunge. Reliability and privacy are important aspects of any commercial agent. Take a careful look at the responsibilities above, and see if you really can do it. Not just for a day or two, but every day.
The trouble several non-commercial registered agents face is balancing their own time with the duties of the RA. Generally speaking, an RA isn’t a full-time employee of the LLC. And even though the RA isn’t expected to actively work all the time, they are expected to be available during normal business hours.
This may turn out to be problematic if service of process arrives when you’re away on a vacation, running errands, or busy with something else. Even if the chances of this happening are low, it is a distinct possibility.
Privacy forms another part of the concern. The registered agent’s address and details become part of the public record. Many people may not be comfortable with their details being so freely available.
If you think you can comfortably take on the responsibilities of this role, it might be worthwhile to go ahead with it.
Hiring A Commercial Registered Agent
As the name suggests, commercial registered agents offer their services for a fee. The amount usually varies depending on the agent and the service offered. As a general number, you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $50 to $300 annually.
Foreign LLCs (companies not native to DC) often choose to go with commercial registered agents. The reason is simple – you might not have a residence in DC and may not know anyone well enough to appoint them as the RA.
But the bigger reason for taking this route is the implied professionalism, reliability, and privacy offered by commercial registered agents. And it is due to this reason that most domestic LLCs too make the choice of hiring commercial registered agents.
When hiring a commercial registered agent, you should look closely into the service they offer and their performance. Checking reviews can be helpful, as is speaking to previous and present clients of the agent.
The job of the agent is often time-bound. You’d ideally like to be informed of the service of process as soon as it arrives. Similarly, any notifications from the government should be handled quickly as well. An agent that moves quicker may deserve greater attention.
Your LLC should expect more from the registered agent than simply completing its job. How well the work is done matters too. At the very least, you should expect the following qualities from a commercial registered agent,
- Professional Service
- Discreet Service
Yes, convenience plays a big part too. Once you hire an agent, you should be free of worries and any issues regarding the role of the agent. Peace of mind should be a package deal with the RA!
How To Change Your Washington DC Registered Agent
Changing your registered agent in the District of Columbia requires filing a Statement of Change of Registered Agent with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Divisions (DCRA).
DC makes finding (and filing) the relevant forms a bit easier. A combined form for Registered Agents is available on the Document Management System of the DCRA. This makes it easier to file and maintain forms related to facets like appointment, change, and resignation of registered agents. You’ll also find forms related to commercial and non-commercial agents on the combined form.
Some forms may also be filed online using DC’s CorpOnline filing system. Filing online is more convenient, and if you have an Access DC Account, you should consider online filing, provided the relevant forms are available.