Think of all the people you communicate with regularly to run your LLC. Business partners, employees, banks, lawyers, and financial advisors all probably come to mind. But what about the state? It may not be at the top of your list, but running a successful LLC in Washington, D.C., requires consistent interaction with the District government.
Formation documents, business information changes, lawsuits, professional licenses, and Biennial Reports – all of these (and more) require you to work with state agencies. The good news is that you don’t need to do it yourself.
Introducing the registered agent. A District of Columbia registered agent is an intermediary for your LLC – a person or company that handles your communication with the District. They’re a vital part of any LLC’s success. Before you file your Certificate of Organization, you’ll need to have a designated registered agent. How? Why? Who? Read on to find out.
An LLC cannot be formed or do business in Washington, D.C., without first having a registered agent on file with the District government. This is required by law and the penalties can be serious. Maintaining a registered agent doesn’t just keep you in good standing. It also provides an important service.
Think of your registered agent as your ambassador to the District, handling all your LLC’s important legal, tax, and compliance information. This can either be an individual, company, or registered agent service, as long as they meet the District’s requirements (see below) and agree to the job responsibilities.
As soon as they’re appointed, your registered agent must be consistently available in D.C. to receive and act on mailed documents and service of process. Here’s what the Code of the District of Columbia specifically says regarding the registered agent’s responsibilities:
“The only duties of a registered agent under this subchapter are:
(1) Forward to the represented entity at the address most recently supplied to the agent by the entity any process, notice, or demand that is served on the agent;
(2) Provide the notices required by this title to the entity at the address most recently supplied to the agent by the entity;
(3) If the agent is a noncommercial registered agent, keep current the information required by § 29-104.04(a) in the most recent registered agent filing for the entity; and
(4) If the agent is a commercial registered agent, keep current the information listed for it under § 29-104.05(a).”
And make sure you have a valid registered agent on file at all times, because the state isn’t messing around – you will be subject to “civil fines, penalties, and fees imposed by the Mayor.” For more detailed information about what these fines, penalties, and fees might be, consult Title 2, Chapter 18 of the Code of the District of Columbia.
The District of Columbia’s requirements are fairly inclusive, so you should have no problem finding an agent that meets them. That said, you can’t just choose anyone you want, although, in D.C., there is only one requirement a registered agent must meet. According to District law, your registered agent must:
That’s it! You can even appoint yourself as the registered agent as long as you meet the requirements and don’t mind the added responsibilities.
When you file the Certificate of Organization, you’ll need to include your agent’s name and address. When you’ve got potential options for your registered agent, review each one to make sure that they have an address in Washington, D.C. If they do, you’re good to go! If not, you’ll need to keep looking. It’s that simple!
The registered agent requirements in Washington, D.C., are pretty broad, so you’ll have no shortage of options. On top of that, your agent can be either an individual or a professional service. But think carefully before choosing, because each option has its own pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look.
You may choose to appoint a single person as your registered agent. Some LLC owners take on registered agent duties themselves. Others appoint one of their partners or managers. Some will even appoint a family member. As long as the proposed agent fulfills the District’s requirements, they’re a valid option.
Some common registered agent choices include attorneys, accountants, or other LLC partners — people who understand the ins and outs of business operations.
If safety and reliability are your goals, hire a registered agent service. A business acting as your registered agent must be either a domestic entity in D.C. or a foreign entity that registered a foreign LLC in D.C.
All of the other steps in the LLC formation process will keep you busy, but take some time to ensure you find a registered agent that fits your business model, goals, and values. Do this, and your LLC will reap the benefits for years to come.
You may have a wonderful registered agent, someone who takes care of everything efficiently and who you trust completely. But you know what they say: all good things must come to an end. At some point in the life of your LLC, you may need to change your D.C. registered agent.
Facilitate this change through the District’s Registered Agent Combined Form. When you finish filling it out, you can mail or hand-deliver it to:
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
P.O. Box 92300
Washington, D.C. 20090
Either method will cost you $50, payable by credit card or check. It typically takes the District around 15 business days to process business filings. However, if you submit your form in person, you can have it expedited: an extra $50 for three-day service or an additional $100 for same-day service.
There are a number of reasons you might need to file for a change, but the most common is a registered agent’s resignation.
The good news is that you’ll never be blindsided by an agent’s departure. The state requires every resigning agent to notify their LLC immediately after submitting an official resignation form, which is in the same Registered Agent Combined Form as the Statement of Change of Registered Office or Agent form. This will give you plenty of time to appoint a replacement but make that change as soon as possible.
You do a lot for your District of Columbia (DC) 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 District of Columbia (DC) 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 LegalZoom are two very popular options.
This guide contains almost everything there is to know about District of Columbia registered agents. However, you might have a unique situation that requires additional information. Reaching out to the District government is easy, and they’ll have the answers you need. Here’s how to go about it.
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Business Services page is your go-to spot for LLC formation information, including some helpful guidance on registered agents.
Or, if you’d rather chat on the phone, reach out to the DCRA’s office at (202) 442-4400.
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