North Carolina Registered Agent

In order to own an LLC in North Carolina, you need to have a registered agent. A registered agent is someone who serves as the point of contact between your LLC and the state of North Carolina. This is a law that North Carolina enforces to ensure companies have a contact point that's available five days per week on non-holidays. However, understanding what a registered agent does and finding one is not always straightforward. When choosing a registered agent in North Carolina, many business owners choose to become the registered agent for their company. While this is a common route, it's not always the best choice, especially when LLC owners in North Carolina have better options available. For this reason, we're going to take you through everything you need to know about registered agents in North Carolina. We'll fill you in on what they do, who they can be, and what your options are. Read on to learn more about registered agents in North Carolina.

What Is a North Carolina Registered Agent?

A registered agent in North Carolina is similar to registered agents in other states across the country. Registered agents in North Carolina serve as the point of contact for an LLC and manage communication between the state of North Carolina and the LLC. Registered agents are also known for handling things like the legal process and being available whenever the state sends correspondence or calls. That said, registered agents in North Carolina do have some differences from registered agents in other states. This is because North Carolina has state-specific laws that registered agents and LLC owners need to follow to remain compliant with state laws and business regulations. For example, new LLCs in North Carolina don't need to file an annual report until one year after the company has been in business. Registered agents in North Carolina are also responsible for handling many responsibilities on behalf of an LLC. These responsibilities include:
  1. Filing an annual report
  2. Being available during normal operating hours (business days excluding federal or state holidays)
  3. Managing the legal process for lawsuits, liens, and other legal documents
  4. Ensuring the company remains compliant according to North Carolina state law
While these are some of the common registered agent responsibilities in North Carolina, registered agents can have more or less depending on who or what the registered agent is. More on that in a moment.

Can the Owner be a Registered Agent in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, LLC owners can act as their own registered agent. Owners who wish to become registered agents can do so by filing their address publically with the state. As long as the address listed is a primary address (not a post office box), the owner of the LLC can serve as the registered agent. This is the route that many LLC owners choose to take because it's convenient and fast. That said, anyone with a primary address in North Carolina can be the registered agent, as long as it's made clear to the state. This includes family members, friends, acquaintances, people within the company, and others. In fact, other companies can also be the registered agent of an LLC in North Carolina. This is how registered agent service companies like ZenBusiness help make a difference for businesses. Still, it's typically best to work with a professional registered agent service. These are services that provide your LLC with unique benefits and features that prevent owners from worrying about registered agent duties and deadlines.

Why Do Businesses Need a Registered Agent in North Carolina?

If you own an LLC in North Carolina, you need a registered agent because the law requires you to have one. While this is the case, there are other reasons that registered agents are needed for LLCs in the state. Registered agents provide many benefits for an LLC but only if you work with a third-party registered agent service. We'll show you how these services can help you with:
  1. Privacy
  2. Legal process
  3. Flexibility
  4. Compliance
  5. Data storage


First and foremost, we'll begin with privacy. Privacy is one of the best reasons to use a registered agent service. In North Carolina, LLCs need to provide their primary address for the state. This makes it public information that anyone can look into. This causes problems for LLC owners because it makes it hard to keep work and business separate. This is where third-party services come in. In North Carolina, LLC owners can use third-party registered agent services to get around this issue. This is because the third-party service lists their address instead of the LLC owner. Therefore, you can keep your work and home addresses away from the public. This can help keep LLC owners out of the spotlight and even provide safety in rare cases.

Legal Process

The next factor to consider is the legal process. The legal process pertains to anything legal that goes on within your company that impacts customers or the state of North Carolina. In North Carolina, the registered agent is responsible for receiving due process lawsuits and must communicate with the LLC and state, given the circumstances. Using a registered agent from outside of the LLC is beneficial because the legal process then occurs at a location other than your LLC. This prevents the public from seeing potential lawsuits and keeps the entire legal process away from your personal life.


Third-party registered agent services also provide people with flexibility. Using a registered agent service gives you flexibility because it helps LLC owners get some of their time back instead of focusing on the needs and wants of the state. For example, LLC owners can focus on things like their company instead of things like filing annual reports. Another reason to consider flexibility is because registered agents need to be available five days per week during normal business hours. While this excludes some holidays, it doesn't account for vacations or other things of that nature. Therefore, LLC owners need to be available at all times to account for this. This is not the case when working with a registered agent service.

Data Storage

Data storage is another factor to consider and another benefit third-party services offer. This is because data storage is a key part of a registered agent's role as they need to store data for the state and keep it separate. This is tricky if you're both the owner and registered agent of an LLC. The good news is that registered agent services provide data storage solutions. These include cloud-based storage, storing data for many years, and more. Therefore, using a registered agent service makes it easy to store data without worrying about mixing information.

What To Look for When Choosing a North Carolina Registered Agent

When looking for a registered agent in North Carolina, you need to choose carefully. While it's tempting to become your company's registered agent, this is something we recommend against. Instead, it's almost always best to work with a third-party LLC service company. Here is what you should look for in these companies:
  1. Professional service
  2. Value
  3. Data management

Professional Service

First and foremost, we recommend looking for a professional registered agent service to work with. These services provide you with additional LLC features that using an in-house registered agent doesn't offer. This means you can get help with things like tax assistance, accounting, starting an LLC, and more. That's why we always recommend a professional service. That said, professional services need to have a good reputation and national coverage. Only work with companies that have above 4 stars in most rating metrics. You should also work with companies that have good customer service and good hours of contact. Finally, make sure the registered agent service you use is a national company so you can move states if needed.


Another thing to look for is value. Value is important because it determines if the money you're spending is good or bad. For example, if you're paying over $100 per year for basic registered agent services, there is a good chance you're overpaying. On the other hand, using someone from inside the LLC to be a free registered agent doesn't add any value either because you don't get bonus features that come with reputable registered agent services. That said, value is what you make of it. Therefore, you should look for registered agent services that fit into your budget needs and provide the services you're looking for. That's why we always recommend working with a customizable service.

Data Management

Data management is one of the most important things to look for when considering a registered agent. Data management is important because the proper use of data helps you remain compliant with North Carolina laws and regulations. For these reasons, it's important to work with a registered agent service that has good data management practices. Unfortunately, these are not common. The good news is that solid companies like ZenBusiness have great data management practices. Good data management practices include cloud-based storage features, the ability to quickly send data between an LLC and the state, and the ability to store data for several years. When shopping for a registered agent service, it's important to consider these factors before making a decision.

How Much Do North Carolina Registered Agents Cost?

Registered agents in North Carolina cost between $0 and $750 (on average). The range is wide because there are many options to choose from. For example, becoming the registered agent of a company you own is free. The drawback is that it comes with added responsibilities that you need to be aware of. One example is how you have to file an annual report in North Carolina. If you fail to do so before April 15th, your company will receive a fee. Failing to remain compliant with North Carolina state law can also cost you a fortune in legal fees. That said, choosing to work with a professional registered agent service typically costs between $30 and $500 in North Carolina. For $30, most registered agent services provide a basic package. The basic package provides you with a registered agent service, and that's typically it. When prices reach the $400-500 range, registered agent services begin to provide additional features for your LLC. These include things like:
  1. Tax filing
  2. Help with licensing
  3. Accounting
  4. Expansion
We recommend working with a reputable registered agent service to take advantage of these benefits. While it costs more over the short term, it can save you money and time in the long run.

What's the Best Registered Agent Service in North Carolina?

The best registered agent service in North Carolina is ZenBusiness. ZenBusiness is a well-rounded company that provides a handful of LLC services. While the company offers registered agent services in a basic package, ZenBusiness shines through additional bonuses and packages that can enhance the experience of owning an LLC. For these reasons, ZenBusiness has earned our top spot for approval in almost every category. ZenBusiness is one of the best companies in the registered agent industry because of many factors. First and foremost, ZenBusiness is affordable and customizable. LLC owners can choose various packages based on price. Some examples include additional services for accounting, tax assistance, helping you start an LLC, and more. These features help ZenBusiness stand out from other LLC services. ZenBusiness is also one of the few registered agent services with many customer support options. Plus, if you can't get in touch with someone via email or phone, their website has a helpful chat feature that's equipped to answer most questions. To learn more about ZenBusiness and other professional registered agent services, read our article here.

Team BusinessNerd

Our team of legal experts and business professionals have years of experience and are dedicated to providing accurate and up-to-date information to our readers.

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