This guide will outline what you need to know about changing a registered agent in Washington and how to get started when you’re ready.
You formed your Washington LLC. You did the paperwork. You started operating your business.
And now, for one reason or another, you need to change your registered agent. No worries, we’ve got you covered.
There are a number of reasons you might need to change your Washington LLC’s registered agent. Maybe your designated registered agent moved out of state, left the company, or no longer wants the responsibility. Maybe you had assigned the job to yourself, and you no longer want your address on public record. Maybe (hopefully) your business has expanded so much that you no longer have time to handle the registered agent responsibilities.
Whatever your reason may be, changing a registered agent in Washington might seem like a daunting task, with a mountain of paperwork and legal proceedings involved. However it’s actually quite simple, and this guide will help make the process quick and painless.
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The state of Washington has certain requirements for changing your LLC’s registered agent. Every business entity operating in the state is required to have a registered agent on file at all times. For each registered agent change, the business must submit a “Statement of Change” either on paper or by mail, or update its registered agent information on the Annual Report.
The Washington Secretary of State provides a handy FAQ dedicated solely to registered agents. Check it out here.
You can’t pick just anyone to be a registered agent for your LLC. The state of Washington puts certain restrictions on who can serve as one. If you’re choosing or changing your registered agent, keep these requirements in mind. The registered agent in Washington must:
* If your registered agent is a foreign business entity, it must be authorized to transact business in Washington
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Your new registered agent might be ready to take on their responsibilities. They might already be in the office. But before they can do anything, you need to make your agent change official. Visit this page to get started.
Washington businesses can change their registered agents online or by mail, take your pick. Both methods are completely free, so there are no fees to worry about.
Online: At the page linked above, click the “Online” option to access the Secretary of State’s digital filing system. You’ll need to create an account if you don’t already have one. Once you’re logged in, follow the instructions to complete your change.
Mail: Download the “Statement of Change/Designation of Registered Agent” and complete it with the required information. Then, mail it to:
Office of the Secretary of State
P.O. Box 40234
Olympia, WA 98504
Or, if you’re local to Olympia, you can drop it off in person at 801 Capitol Way S, Olympia, WA 98504-0234.
As mentioned above, if your registered agent change coincides with your Annual Report filing, you can execute it there. Your Annual Report is due each year by the end of your LLC’s anniversary month (the month it was formed). File your Annual Report either online or using a paper form. There’s a $60 fee, payable by card or check (made out to “Secretary of State”).
If you’re too busy, or if you’d feel more comfortable letting someone else take the reins, you have the option of hiring a company or individual to file your paperwork for you. It’s a great way to save time and stress.
Submit your form? Pay your fee? Your new registered agent will be on file soon! If you’re in a hurry and need to process your change right away, select “Expedite Service” on your paper or online form. This service costs $50 and will have your paperwork processed within two business days. For mailed forms, write “EXPEDITE” on the outside of the envelope.
Think of your registered agent as a mediator between you and the state of Washington, the person or business entity that handles some of your most important paperwork.
In case you thought the registered agent was just a formality, look at the documents they handle:
A lot of important stuff. Which is why a reliable registered agent is essential to every Washington business owner.
By handling high-priority and sensitive documents on your behalf, your registered agent takes care of your communications with the state, so you can spend more time building your business.
Plus, if you operate a Washington small business from out of state, a trustworthy registered agent is especially important, as the state requires a local contact for your LLC. Having this contact ensures your company will receive and respond to time-sensitive documents, so you won’t miss filings and get hit with penalties.
If you’re unsure where to find a good Washington registered agent, consider using a registered agent service. These companies provide you a reliable, professional registered agent so you can have peace of mind knowing you won’t ever miss a filing, tax deadline, or state correspondence.
Sure, you can jump online, search “registered agent service,” and get a ton of results. But the truth is that not all of these services are trustworthy. So, we’ve done some research for you. If you want to know you’re getting a top-quality registered agent, take a look at our comparison guide on the best rated registered agent services. Many of these providers can also form an LLC for you if you’re needing a fresh start. ZenBusiness and IncFile are two very well known options.
There are numerous reasons you might need to give up your Washington registered agent role, but only one way to resign.
Registered agents play an important role in the life of an LLC, handling sensitive legal and tax documents, so it’s essential that agents follow proper resignation procedures. Otherwise, you could leave your company with unplanned fines or penalties, and you could be individually liable.
Fortunately, for Washington LLCs it is easy.
Follow these steps and the hardest part of your resignation won’t be the process itself, it’ll be saying “so long” to your former business.
Washington’s resignation process does not require you to inform your LLC before sending notice to the Secretary of State. State law (RCW 23.95.445) only mandates that you break the news to your company after you’ve officially resigned. That said, it can be beneficial to everyone involved if you let them know beforehand. With additional time to change their registered agent, your company can avoid the fines and other penalties for not having one.
Plus, it can help you pass off your responsibilities sooner. Your resignation doesn’t take effect until 31 days after it’s processed unless your LLC brings on a replacement sooner. If they have time to get a new agent lined up, you could be off the books right away.
You might be thinking ahead to new projects or businesses, but you can’t move on until you’ve submitted a formal resignation with the Secretary of State. You can do so one of three ways: online, by mail, or in person. Access all three options from the Corporations Forms page.
Need your resignation processed fast? File it online. Under the Registered Agent Forms section of the Corporations Forms page, you’ll find the “Resignation of Registered Agent.” In the “File Online?” column, click the button to access the filing portal. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to create one. Once you’re logged in, follow the onscreen prompts to complete it.
For mailed or in-person filings, download the “Registration of Registered Agent” form and fill it out using a PDF editor (like Adobe Acrobat) or dark ink. Here’s the information you’ll need to complete it:
There’s no filing fee, stash your checkbook or credit card for now. When you’ve finished the form, mail it to:
Office of the Secretary of State
Corporations & Charities Division
801 Capitol Way S.
Olympia, WA 98504-0234
Or, if you live near Olympia, you’re also welcome to drop it off in person at the same address.
Online filings are processed fairly quickly, often within a few business days, but hard copy filings can take 2-3 weeks. You can expedite the process (two-day processing) for $20 online or $50 on paper. Include a check (made out to “Washington Secretary of State”) with your mailed document, and write “EXPEDITE” on the envelope. As mentioned earlier, you will retain your registered agent duties for 31 days after you resign unless your LLC appoints a replacement sooner. Just be aware that you may still receive mail and service of process for up to a month after you resign.
When you put down your registered agent responsibilities, someone else has to pick them up, or your LLC will lose its good standing with the state. Help your LLC keep its momentum by carefully planning your transition.
This starts with finding a successor who’s ready to take over right away. Even a small gap in registered agent coverage can result in severe penalties. Let’s say you resign and wait the requisite 31 days, but your LLC still hasn’t appointed a new agent. At that point, they have 30 days to do so. Any Washington business entity that goes more than 30 days without a valid registered agent can be administratively dissolved.
No matter who the LLC brings on as a replacement, they must meet Washington’s registered agent requirements, which means they must:
An LLC is allowed to assign registered agent duties to one of its individual members, but instead of adding responsibilities to that person’s plate, outsourcing them to a professional service can be easier.
We recommend using a registered agent service, which can take over registered agent duties, freeing up more time for the LLC’s managers to focus on running the business.
You do a lot for your Washington LLC. You’re essentially the shield that protects it from fines, the filter that catches important documents, the conductor that keeps it on track with compliance.
Because you play such an important role, it’s crucial that you follow the resignation procedures exactly — and potentially provide a replacement agent for the business. Otherwise, you might find yourself and your LLC in hot water.
Follow this guide and you’ll be totally fine. Soon, you’ll be on to your next project, whether that’s starting a new business in Washington or something completely different.
If you need a fresh start and would like to form a brand new LLC, there are plenty of services that can take care of this for you. ZenBusiness and Northwest are two very popular options.
Change Registered Agent in all 50 States
We outline How to Change a Registered Agent in all 50 states. View all of our guides below.
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