How to Get a Registered Agent in Iowa

Des Moines Iowa | Swyft Filings

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Alexis Konovodoff
Written by Alexis Konovodoff
Written byAlexis Konovodoff
Updated September 11, 2023
Edited by Zachary Ace Aiuppa
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Running a business in Iowa comes with many legal requirements. One of them is to have a registered agent. Let’s see why you need an Iowa registered agent service and how to choose your provider.

Key Takeaways

  • An Iowa registered agent is a business entity or individual that receives legal paperwork on behalf of the business owner. 

  • An Iowa registered agent must be an Iowa resident over 18 or a business entity authorized to do business in the state.

  • Hiring Iowa registered agent services has more benefits compared to fulfilling the role yourself.

Ensure Compliance With a Top Registered Agent in Iowa

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What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is a business entity or individual appointed by business owners to receive critical paperwork on their behalf. This includes compliance documents, government correspondence, and service of process. The registered agent helps businesses remain in good standing with the government.[1]

You need a registered agent in Iowa when officially registering your small business with the Iowa Secretary of State. The rule applies if your organization falls under one of these categories:

Registered Agent Responsibilities

An Iowa registered agent has a wide range of responsibilities. Here are a few of the main ones.

Service of Process

You’ll receive most legal documents through your registered agent, including critical service of process paperwork.[2] If you miss lawsuit paperwork, it could worsen a bad situation. A third-party registered agent ensures service of process is received promptly without needing officials to show up at your home or business address.

State Compliance Notices

Besides service of process, registered agents also receive timely notifications about tax and compliance deadlines. This includes franchise tax filings and statements for biennial reports or annual reports.

Articles of Incorporation

When you want to start a corporation or LLC, you must file your articles of incorporation with the Iowa Secretary of State. One of the requirements for this document is designating your registered agent. This is one of the many ways a registered agent helps you stay compliant.

Change of Address

Apart from corporate filings for the public record, a registered agent notifies the Iowa Secretary of State about address changes or other modifications. If you move locations or expand into other states, it’s your registered agent’s responsibility to update the state.

Point of Contact

Your registered agent is your Iowa LLC or corporation's primary representative and contact person. Because of this, your agent must be available during regular business hours for same-day delivery at their registered office address.

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Choosing Your Iowa Registered Agent

There are several factors to consider when choosing a registered agent. However, the first step is understanding the requirements when designating a registered agent in Iowa.

Iowa Registered Agent Requirements

  • Must be an individual state resident over 18 or a business entity authorized to do business in the state

  • Must have a registered office with a physical street address in the state where government officials can deliver service of process and government documents (P.O. boxes are not allowed)[3]

  • Must be reachable for in-person service of process submission and delivery during regular business hours, or the company risks losing its good standing and facing hefty state fees

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Iowa?

Acting as your own registered agent has some advantages. Primarily, it’s less expensive than hiring a third-party service. It’s also a hassle-free process if you operate from one location and don’t want to train others to handle your paperwork.

To sum up, here are the pros of being your own registered agent:

  • Saves upfront costs

  • Allows for a straightforward method if you only work regular business hours from one location

  • Keeps confidential information under one eye

On the other hand, appointing yourself as the registered agent also has many drawbacks. Let’s dive into the top three.

1. Organization

Although being your own agent can help optimize your time management, it can be overwhelming. Some public record documents you may receive at your office address include report reminders, tax forms, and annual reports. Staying on top of them requires tremendous organizational skills, meaning you’ll need to take your time management to a new level.

You must perform all the filing yourself, including any updates or changes to your information. For instance, you’ll need to file a lot of paperwork if you move to notify the Iowa Secretary of State and pay the applicable fees. This shifts your focus from strategic and money-making activities to administrative duties.

You also need to be available during normal business hours all year long. If you’re like many small business owners, your schedule is packed. As a result, you might not be able to guarantee you’ll be at your office to accept important documents during regular business hours. In other words, taking time off increases the risk of not receiving vital paperwork or service of process, which can have harsh legal repercussions.

2. Public Image

Designating yourself as the registered agent is only a good choice if you’re comfortable being served confidential documents publicly. Even if it’s a harmless event, the image of being served can raise suspicion. 

3. Privacy

Being your own registered agent discloses some of your personal data. Your address as a registered agent is publicly available, and it can’t be in the same location as your office. This means you’ll need to use your home as the address if you don’t have a second business location, and your address becomes part of the public record.

Benefits of a Third-Party Registered Agent

Since designating yourself as your registered agent isn’t always advantageous, you may want to find a different method. Your best option might be to work with a third-party registered agent to receive key correspondence.

A registered agent service ensures your agent is always available as the point of contact, allowing them to receive papers on your behalf and eliminating the need for you to be at your office 24/7. Here are some other benefits of a third-party agent:

  • Avoid the risk from missing crucial information or misplacing documents

  • Meet compliance deadlines and state requirements on time, always

  • Receive compliance updates and reminders when necessary

  • Keep personal information private and off the public record

  • Avoid being publicly served with legal notices and hurting your reputation

  • Gain peace of mind as the agent receives, accepts, forwards, and sorts all documents on your behalf

  • Schedule meetings and time off freely as you don’t need to stay at your office

  • Access documents and information through a secure and organized portal

Designating seasoned registered agents like Swyft Filings provides your business with much-needed privacy, organization, and compliance. State and legal documents go directly to your registered agent, adding a layer of discretion between the public and your organization.

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How to Set Up Your Iowa Registered Agent

Teaming up with a third-party Iowa registered agent is better than designating yourself for most businesses. So, how do you set up an LLC registered agent in the state? This section will detail how to elect or change your Iowa registered agent for an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit organization.

Electing an Iowa Registered Agent 

Electing an Iowa registered agent is relatively simple. You just have to include the agent for your nonprofit organization, LLC, or corporation on your specific formation documents.

We’ll fill out your formation documents, file them with the state, and be your registered agent. Alternatively, you can follow the steps below to elect a registered agent based on your business type.

Electing a Registered Agent for an LLC

  1. Complete your certificate of organization. The information about your registered agent is under Article 1-b.

  2. Submit the LLC certificate with the Iowa Secretary of State online or at the address below.

  3. Pay the state filing fees for your certificate, which are currently $50.

Iowa Secretary of State Address

Business Services

First Floor, Lucas Building

321 E. 12th St.

Des Moines, IA 50319

Electing a Registered Agent for a Corporation

  1. Complete your certificate of incorporation. The data you need to provide about your registered agent is under Article 1-c.

  2. Submit the certificate online or mail it to the same address above. 

  3. Pay your state fees, which are also currently $50.

Electing a Registered Agent for a Nonprofit

  1. File your nonprofit articles of incorporation by completing the template from the Secretary of State. Fill in the information under Article 1-b.[4]

  2. Submit the certificate online or mail it to the same address above. 

  3. Pay the $20 state fee.

Changing an Iowa Registered Agent

If you’re unhappy with your Iowa registered agent and want to switch to a better provider, it’s easy to make the change. Our registered agent service will handle the change for you in minutes. You can also change your agent by following the steps below:

  1. Find your new registered agent and start your collaboration.

  2. Notify the former service provider you no longer need their services.

  3. Fill out and submit the Change of Registered Agent form to the Iowa Secretary of State online or by mail.

There are no state fees for changing your registered agent in Iowa.[5]

Why Choose Swyft Filings as Your Iowa Registered Agent
  • Avoid Penalties: Every business is legally required to have a registered agent in any state where it operates.

  • Prioritize Your Privacy: We go on record with the government so you don’t have to, meaning any legal actions come to us, not your home or office.

  • Stay Flexible: We are always available at a physical address during business hours, so you’ll never miss an official notice.

Secure My Registered Agent


Who can be an Iowa registered agent?

An Iowa registered agent can be any individual residing in the state whose business office coincides with their registered office. It can also be a business entity with a physical business office. If the provider is an out-of-state entity, it still needs a valid business office in the state and authorization to do business in Iowa.[6]

How much does a registered agent in Iowa cost?

Hiring a registered agent in Iowa costs between $100 and $300 annually. Many business owners serve as their own registered agents to eliminate the expense, but this can be a considerable risk. For a minimal cost, third-party registered agents save time, help ensure compliance, and provide privacy.

How can I change my registered agent in Iowa?

To change your registered agent in Iowa, you need to fill out and submit the Change of Registered Agent form to the Secretary of State. There is no state filing fee.

How can I find a registered agent in Iowa?

The best way to find reputable registered agents in Iowa is to check online reviews. 

Swyft Filings is a highly acclaimed provider that’s helped numerous clients stay compliant and receive sensitive mail discreetly.

What is an Iowa registered office?

An Iowa registered office address is the official address of your registered agent where they receive documents. It can not be a P.O. box.

What’s the difference between a registered agent and a resident agent or statutory agent?

The terms registered agent, statutory agent, and resident agent all indicate the same role. Iowa and most other states use registered agents to highlight that the address and name of the agent are registered by certain entities. “Resident agent” denotes that the agent must reside in the state, whereas “statutory agent” emphasizes that having the agent is statute-required.

What is a registered agent service?

A registered agent service is a third party that fulfills the registered agent requirements on behalf of the business. 

Swyft Filings offers a reliable registered agent service that maintains your privacy, provides immediate access to vital documents, and gives you more time to focus on your business.


  1. Iowa Secretary of State. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

  2. Iowa Legislature. “Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

  3. Iowa Legislature. “Business Corporations.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

  4. Iowa Secretary of State. “Nonprofits: Minimum Code Requirements.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

  5. Iowa Secretary of State. “Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

  6. Iowa Secretary of State. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

Originally published on March 30, 2023, and last edited on September 11, 2023.
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