Washington is a great place to start and run an LLC. That said, you need to have a registered agent if you want to operate an LLC in the state of Washington. Registered agents are required by law in the state of Washington and perform many roles for LLCs and the state. For example, the registered agent acts as a point of communication between an LLC and state agencies. This allows the state to receive documents and communicate with LLC owners in Washington.
If you're starting an LLC in Washington or already have a company, you're in the right place. We're going to take you through the state-specific laws that apply to registered agents in the state of Washington. We'll cover what they do for your LLC and who a registered agent can be. We're also going to mention third-party registered agent services that you can use to have more success with your company.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about registered agents in Washington.
What Is a Washington Registered Agent?
Washington is a state that requires a registered agent by law, which is what you'll find in the other 49 states. In Washington, a registered agent serves as a point of contact between the state and the LLC. This makes the registered agent responsible for handling things like reports, storing data relevant to the state, and the legal process. While not all LLCs get into legal trouble, understanding how registered agents with legal issues are important in case they ever come up.
While registered agents play a limited role in LLCs in Washington, they're responsible for managing several tasks. Some of these specific tasks include:
- Managing the legal process in Washington
- Handling liens and other legal documents on behalf of the LLC
- Make sure the LLC is in "good standing" with the state of Washington
- Handling compliance needs
- Data storage
- Data management and sending
Keep in mind; these are only a handful of things that registered agents can do for an LLC. In fact, if you work with a third-party service, registered agents can do more.
Can a Business Owner Be a Registered Agent in Washington?
In Washington, the owner of an LLC can appoint themselves as the registered agent to their own business. The state of Washington allows anyone to be the registered agent as long as their primary address is in Washington. It's also important to note that the address can't be a post office box. That said, people within the company, friends, and family members can all be registered agents.
Still, we always recommend working with a third-party registered agent service to make the process easier. Plus, Washington allows other companies to serve as the registered agent, which means you can work with companies like ZenBusiness for LLC services and registered agent services.
Why Do Businesses Need a Registered Agent in Washington?
First, LLCs in Washington need a registered agent because it's the law, so for a business to be in compliance with the state of Washington, you must have a registered agent. However, registered agents are vital because they serve as the point of contact between the state and the LLC. This makes the registered agent responsible for handling documents, managing paperwork, and being available during business hours.
Still, there are other benefits that registered agent services can provide if you choose to go that route. We recommend doing so because you'll have more time to focus on your LLC.
One of the most important things a registered agent service can do for you is provide privacy. When owning an LLC, it's best to have some privacy from your LLC. If you're the owner of an LLC and the registered agent, you don't get to have the same level of privacy. This is because you need to list your name, address, and other information. While this information is accessible to the state, it is also typically made available to the general public as well.
The good news is that registered agent services can give you back your privacy. This is because registered agent services list their address and information instead of you needing to list yours. In doing so, LLC owners can remain separate from their company in some situations.
The legal process is tricky when you own an LLC. While the LLC shields you from some liability, the company needs to be served if there is a lawsuit. This can happen anywhere but typically happens at the LLC's headquarters. Therefore, being the owner and the registered agent could lead to being served papers in your place of business; that's not a good look.
Working with a registered agent service prevents this from happening. Instead of being served papers at your location, the legal process is handled by registered agent services. This keeps the legal process away from you, your LLC, and even your customers. It might not sound important, but you might not know you're being sued until someone walks through your business's front door. It's better to have them go through a registered agent service instead.
Another thing that you lose if you become the registered agent of your company is flexibility. Registered agents in Washington need to be available during all business hours. The only exceptions are holidays. Therefore, LLC owners who are also the registered agent can't be completely away from the company. While the state doesn't frequently reach out, the registered agent needs to be available if and when it happens.
That said, a registered agent service offers flexibility. For example, instead of the owner needing to connect with the state, the registered agent service handles those responsibilities. That said, the registered agent also handles other duties like filing and keeping track of important dates. This gives LLC owners the flexibility to worry more about their company.
Washington makes it easy to remain compliant. This means that you don't have to worry about too much in the state of Washington. Still, there are things your LLC needs to remain compliant with. This includes filing reports each year and making sure the company has the appropriate licenses for the type of business it's in.
If you work with a registered agent service, you avoid these compliance issues. The registered agent service takes care of compliance and makes sure documents are filed properly and on time. This helps LLC owners focus more on what matters instead of worrying about deadlines.
Finally, data storage is a big issue when owning an LLC. Data is used to track company performance and many other things. That said, LLC owners need to keep files for the state and their company separate. Mixing the two can lead to missing deadlines and paying fees. The good news is that registered agent services can also help with data storage.
Registered agent services can help with cloud-based data storage. Cloud-based data storage allows you to store documents on the cloud, which makes it easier to send documents and expands the amount of storage space you have.
While it's tempting to become the registered agent of your LLC, or have someone else within the company take on the role, it's often better to work with a third-party registered agent service.
What to Look for When Choosing a Washington Registered Agent
If you're looking to leverage a registered agent service, you can't just settle on the first one you find. While you might get lucky with your first choice, there is a good chance that you're passing up a better option. This is because there are several useful things that a registered agent service can provide. You should try to avoid working with a friend or a family member because friends and business don't always mix, especially if they miss a filing date.
We're going to take you through a few things to consider when looking for a registered agent service.
The first thing you need to consider is the type of registered agent you want to work with. There are many options, but the best choice is a professional service. It's better than being the registered agent yourself or having someone else within the company take on the role. It's better because it gives you more time to focus on your company, and you don't have to stress about deadlines.
That said, you shouldn't just choose the first registered agent service you come across. Make sure you do your research and check the company's credentials and reputation. In addition, you should look for a nationwide company or at least serves more than one state. This way, you can expand your business and stay with the same service if you need to.
Another thing to look for when choosing a registered agent service is value. If the value isn't there, then what's the point of working with one? There are several metrics to base value on. Some of our favorites include the number of packages or plans offered, how much each plan costs, and discounts for new customers.
Several companies provide value, but the best registered agent services allow people to customize their plans. This is done with add-ons and special additions to packages. One example is how ZenBusiness structures its model and offers customers unique options like tax filing and accounting based on their needs. Overall, you should look for registered agent services that do more than serve as a registered agent.
The last thing to consider is data management. Data management is important because it helps you keep your documents safe and available if they're needed by the state. While there are many ways to store data, the best method nowadays is cloud-based storage.
You should look for companies that offer cloud-based storage because it's superior to other types of storage. You can store more, send information faster, and have more customization options. Therefore, we recommend only working with registered agent services that offer this.
How Much Do Washington Registered Agents Cost?
The cost of a registered agent in the state of Washington is typically between $0 and $1,000. Pricing depends on your LLC's needs and what you're looking to get from an LLC service. For example, you can choose to be the registered agent of your LLC and not pay at all. You can also choose friends or family members and which is another low-cost option.
The only issue with these choices is what happens if you miss a report or if your company falls out of compliance. When this occurs, your company is held liable and you have to pay additional fees. Depending on what happened, the fees can be legal or general fees, which can add up to hundreds of dollars. For this reason, we recommend working with a registered agent service.
Registered agent services cost between $30 and $1000. The cost of a registered agent service correlates to what you need. Most basic registered agent services that only handle report filing and compliance are $30-500 per year. On the other hand, packages that offer unique benefits like cloud-based storage and tax assistance cost upwards of $500 per year.
That said, it's almost always worth the extra cost to work with a registered agent service. They provide you peace of mind, and you don't need to worry about sending documents in on time or paying fees if they're late.
What's the Best Registered Agent Service in Washington?
If you're looking for a registered agent service in Washington or any other state, ZenBusiness is almost always the best option. It's a well-rounded registered agent service that has dozens of employees, multiple packages, and even add-ons you can use for accounting and tax purposes. Overall, it's one of the few companies that provides a comprehensive experience.
ZenBusiness is among the best registered agent services for a few reasons that we'll break down for you. First and foremost, ZenBusiness is an LLC service, which means the company offers more than registered agent services. Their registered agent services are affordable in their base plan, but you can also use tools like cloud-based document storage, tax filing, accounting, and more. Several plans depend on the needs of your LLC. Each plan is also priced competitively.
ZenBusiness is also unique because of the customer service and customer reviews. It's one of the few LLC service companies that maintains more than 4 stars on most rating platforms. Their customer service team is also responsive, easy to work with, and available during business hours regardless of your time zone.
If you own an LLC and need a registered agent, we always recommend working with ZenBusiness. It's one of the best companies around for registered agent services, and they can help you with many aspects of owning and managing an LLC.