As you start your business in Virginia, you will likely come across references to appointing a registered agent for your entity. A registered agent is required for every formal business in Virginia as per state law: if you aren’t sure what a registered agent is and how they work, don’t worry.
Our article below will help you learn everything you need to know about a Virginia registered agent so you can make a fully informed decision before appointing one.
What Is a Virginia Registered Agent?
As mentioned above, a registered agent is legally required for every formal business entity in Virginia. Your business’s registered agent is responsible for receiving all communication from government entities and will be the party that is notified in the case of a lawsuit against your business. They also need to file certain documentation on your business’s behalf with the state to keep your entity in good standing.
Any individual, including yourself (if you’re over 18), can be appointed as a registered agent in Virginia. You can also appoint an authorized state business or a commercial registered agent (we recommend ZenBusiness for this) to act as your registered agent.
You should keep in mind that Virginia law dictates that your registered agent has a valid street address in the state – this cannot be a P.O. Box. Your appointed registered agent must also be available during regular business hours so that they can receive important documents in a timely manner.
Additionally, as long as your business is in operation in Virginia, you need to keep your registered agent’s information on file and ensure that everything stays up to date with the state. This ensures that your business remains in good standing and that you receive every necessary document.
Why Businesses Need a Virginia Registered Agent Service
Many business owners in Virginia choose to appoint a commercial registered agent service as their business’s point of contact. There are many benefits and reasons that this may work for your business that we discuss below.
Any registered agent you appoint needs to be available during regular business hours. Anyone who acts as their own registered agent may find it difficult to schedule time off or work on other business-related matters without the stress of being available to receive any important documentation.
Appointing a registered agent service can greatly improve your flexibility because the service is on hand to accept documents for you. The service has staff and employees that are always ready to accept documentation, so you can be sure that you won’t miss any important notices. Needless to say, this will cause you less stress.
When filing to establish your business in Virginia, you must give the name and address of any registered agent that you appoint. If you are appointing yourself or a closely related individual, you need to submit your address. This address will then end up on public record, which can create an issue with privacy.
If you would like to maintain an increased level of privacy, appointing a registered agent service is a good idea for your business. You will be able to list the service’s address on your business paperwork, thereby protecting your personal address from the public.
Occasionally, businesses are served a notice of a lawsuit via their registered agent. If you have appointed yourself or a family member as your registered agent, this may result in questions or knowledge of an otherwise sensitive situation to those you may want to keep the lawsuit private from. Additionally, acting as your own registered agent may result in notices being served in front of customers, which is not the best for your reputation.
A registered agent service, on the other hand, can receive these documents away from any unwanted eyes and will discreetly pass them to you so you can deal with issues or work to meet the requirements privately.
Registered agents are responsible for a number of things, such as keeping up with business fees, meeting annual requirements, and documentation filing with the state. These items are essential to keeping your business in good standing and avoiding penalties or fines from the state of Virginia.
It can be difficult to keep up with all the different filing deadlines and requirements of being a registered agent if you act as your own agent, but a professional registered agent service can easily keep all this information organized for you.
Opportunity to Expand
If you decide to expand your business into a different state, you could meet the challenge of having to register your business as a foreign entity. This means you need to appoint a registered agent in that state with a valid street address. It can be difficult to do this if you are acting as your own registered agent, but a registered agent service will typically have locations spread across all 50 states. In this case, all you must do to expand your business is pay the service a little extra to act as your registered agent in other U.S. jurisdictions.
When acting as your own registered agent or appointing a family member or friend as one, it can be hard to keep track of all the paperwork you are given. For example, if you choose not to digitize and upload your documents to a computer (which can take time), you may end up with stacks of paper that can easily become disorganized.
One of the benefits of using a registered agent service is they will scan and upload all important documents for you to access online. This allows you to review them quickly and access any important notices without the stress of searching through stacks of paperwork.
What to Look For When Choosing a Virginia Registered Agent?
As you decide on who to appoint as your registered agent, there are several factors you need to consider first.
Professionalism is a major factor in any Virginia registered agent. Whether you use a commercial agent service or appoint an outside individual, it is important that they can accept documents and professionally complete all aspects of their role. This may be more difficult to achieve with a family member who acts as your agent, so you should be clear about the requirements before appointing anyone who is not part of a commercial service.
Cost and the value of services received is another important thing to consider when appointing a Virginia registered agent. While it may cost less to appoint yourself or a family member, this can be a more stressful way of conducting business. A registered agent service may cost a little more upfront, but the investment usually pays for itself through the time it frees and the stress it relieves.
A national reputation applies more to any registered agent service you are interested in. You should look for a business that has locations across the United States, as it will make it easier to potentially expand your business, especially if it has many positive reviews. The more reputable and well-reviewed a service is, the more likely it is to meet all your business needs.
Again, this applies more to a registered agent service than to a family member, or outside individual you appoint to be your registered agent. You should be carefully looking at the services a commercial registered agent can offer; the best services will offer things such as online document and data management, expert advice, and compliance calendar management, so your business never misses a notice or filing deadline.
How Much Do Registered Agents Cost?
How much a registered agent costs depends on the type of agent you choose to appoint. If you plan to appoint yourself or a close friend or family member, this will cost you nothing.
However, if you plan to use a registered agent service (which we recommend), this can cost between $50 and $300. Most services charge an annual fee for a year’s worth of service, but you should check what is included in the fee.
What’s the Best Registered Agent Service in Virginia?
In Virginia, the best service is one that meets all your business needs at an affordable cost. For this, we recommend ZenBusiness. This service provides you with expert support, online documentation and data management, and compliance tracking for one low cost of $99 per year. This means you can be sure that your business is receiving every notice and meeting every filing deadline out there.