Maryland state law requires every registered business to have a registered agent. This agent exists to handle official paperwork from the state on behalf of the company and to process legal documents.
This article examines a registered agent’s roles, the benefits of working with a third-party agent, and what you need to know when choosing one.
All Maryland LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits must elect a registered agent to serve as the point of contact for all legal documents and service of process.
Under Maryland law, any individual, employee, or manager can be a registered agent.
A third-party registered agent service offers increased privacy, better organization, and more flexibility, among other benefits for business owners.
Protect your privacy, avoid compliance issues, and choose a service trusted by over 300,000 businesses.
A registered agent is an individual or business entity that serves as a point of contact between your business and other entities. Generally speaking, a registered agent processes legal documents, such as a service of process a Maryland LLC may receive as part of a lawsuit.
Agents also handle all communication between a large or small business and the state of Maryland. Such communication may include the company’s certificate of good standing and its annual report.
Beyond the general roles noted above, a registered agent has several key responsibilities to maintain:
Business address to serve as a registered office
Willingness to make its address and contact details a matter of public record
Capability to receive, forward, and file legal documents, such as your Maryland annual report and similar notifications
Availability during regular business hours (8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday)
Your business is also responsible for registering your agent with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). The same goes for filing a change of agent should your current agent leave the role.
Selecting a Maryland registered agent is often challenging. It would be best to choose an entity that meets the state’s requirements and that you can trust to fulfill the responsibilities associated with the role.
A Maryland registered agent must be a state resident over 18. Whether the agent acts on behalf of a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), the entity must make its name and address available for the public record. Their address also becomes their registered office, to which the state and legal entities will send documents.
The agent’s address has to be a physical one, meaning your Maryland business can’t use a mailing service or P.O. box for your registered agent. Furthermore, the LLC registered agent must maintain regular business hours, allowing them to receive documents at certain times.
Examples of a Maryland registered agent’s responsibilities include processing your company’s certificate of good standing. You must also name the agent on the formation documents your Maryland business submits to the state and pay the state fees for registration. These are detailed below.
Maryland allows you to act as your registered agent as long as you meet the state’s requirements. You must maintain an office address that operates during regular business hours. You’re also responsible for handling important documents.
There are some reasons to consider acting as your own registered agent:
Save money you’d otherwise spend on hiring a third party
Have fewer business partners or associates to keep track of
Receive all documents directly
While the prospects of saving money and simplifying business processes are attractive, acting as your own registered agent comes with some downsides:
Making your registered address and contact details a matter of public record
Missing critical legal notices and documents when traveling or out of office
Acting as your own registered agent allows you to save money and receive legal documents directly. But before making that decision, there are several reasons why working with a Maryland registered agent service, such as Swyft Filings, is beneficial.
You’re already spending most of your time keeping your business operational. You have a team to maintain, contracts to sign, and clients to keep happy. Serving as your own registered agent takes time away from these business-critical tasks.
For example, you may need to travel to meet a client. However, serving as your own agent means you must maintain regular business hours at your office. That requirement could lead to you having to cancel your trip, meaning you lose a potentially valuable client.
With a third-party registered agent, you have a point of contact who can handle essential documents on your behalf. You’re left with more time to handle crucial business matters without worrying about the requirements for compliance.
Imagine that you’re holding a meeting with a vital client. You’re hashing out the details of a new contract when a member of local law enforcement enters your office. The officer asks for your registered agent, which is you, and hands over a service of process document.
Your client has just watched you receive a notice relating to another entity’s intent to sue your business.
It’s fair to say that most business owners don’t want law enforcement officers turning up on their company’s doorstep. However, that’s a real possibility if you act as your own registered agent.
With a third-party agent, you don’t have to worry about these invasions of business privacy. Important documents go to your agent, who processes and forwards them at times convenient to you. That means no embarrassing situations for business owners that could ruin their good standing with their clients.
The best registered agents take the busy work off a business owner’s plate.
For example, a registered agent receives a lot of junk mail because their address is on the public record. Working as your own agent means you have to sift through that junk mail to find important documents. Some documents may get lost, creating legal and compliance issues.
Entrepreneurs can trust a third-party registered agent to handle organizational tasks better than they can. That’s because your agent focuses solely on their mission. They don’t have to split their time between acting as an agent and the many other jobs required to run a business.
Think of your registered agent as the gatekeeper between you and your mail. The agent filters out the unimportant to ensure you only see the documents you need to see.
Being your own registered agent means you must have a registered office with Maryland. In addition to creating privacy concerns, this requirement creates issues if you need to move offices.
An office move requires you to file again with the state, incurring costly state fees.
With a third-party agent, you don’t have to worry about registering a new office with the state. Your agent’s registered office stays the same even if you move to a new location. If you anticipate consistent business growth requiring you to change locations regularly, having a third-party agent facilitates this by ensuring lower costs.
Your business may wish to operate in several states rather than confining itself to Maryland alone. The challenge here is that each state you do business in requires you to have a registered agent within that state.
You have several options here:
Set up offices in each state you operate
Have an individual associated with your company use their home address in the state
Work with a third-party service
Setting up offices is a costly endeavor your company may not otherwise need. For example, an e-commerce business that sells products to multiple states doesn’t necessarily need to purchase a registered office in every state.
Asking an individual who lives in each one to serve as your agent comes with complications, too. Many individuals don’t want to deal with the hassle of handling so much mail or putting their physical addresses on the public record.
Working with a third-party provider is often the best option in this situation. Once you set up the provider as your registered agent, you can ensure compliance without worrying about additional costs or privacy concerns.
New entrepreneurs and business owners must understand the processes to establish a Maryland registered agent. The time may also come when you need to change your agent, for which there is a different process.
Depending on your business type, there are slightly different processes to follow when selecting a registered agent. These business types include:
In all cases, your registered agent must consent to their appointment by signing your company’s formation documents. You also pay state fees in all cases, though these vary depending on the type of business.
Furthermore, the filing methods are the same for all business types. When delivering your forms in person or sending them via mail, use the following address:
State Department of Assessments and Taxation,
301 W. Preston Street, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201-2395
When selecting a registered agent for an LLC, you must complete the LLC Articles of Organization form as part of your LLC formation. The information about your registered agent goes into Article 4 of this form.
You can submit the form via mail or online, with state fees of $100 in both cases.
The requirements change when registering an agent as a corporation. You must complete Article 5 of the Articles of Incorporation - Stock Corporation form to provide the state with your registered agent’s information.
The state fees you pay vary depending on the aggregate value of the corporation’s stock. The standard fee for a for-profit corporation is $120. However, the fee changes if the aggregate par value of the company’s stock is above $100,000. Furthermore, you may have to pay a different fee if you use no par value stock.
In these cases, the corporation can issue over 5,000 shares. You must call (410) 767-1340 to inquire about this filing fee.
Again, you can file via mail, in person, or online using a Maryland Business Express account.
When selecting a Maryland registered agent as a nonprofit organization, you must complete the Articles of Incorporation - Tax-Exempt Nonstock Corporation form.
You must complete Article 5 to provide your registered agent’s details. Then submit it by mail or online alongside a filing fee of $120.
You may need to change your Maryland registered agent for several reasons. The agent may move out of the state or simply no longer provide their consent to act as your agent.
In these cases, you need to register a change of agent. Thankfully, the form used for this is the same for every business in the state, regardless of whether it’s a Maryland LLC, nonprofit, or corporation.
Complete the Resolution to Change Principal Office or Resident Agent form and file it along with state fees of $25 to the following address:
State Department of Assessments and Taxation,
301 W. Preston Street, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201-2395
This ensures the form reaches the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). Alternatively, you can complete the filing online via your Maryland Business Express Account.
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.
Almost any individual or business entity can serve as a Maryland registered agent if they meet the state requirements.
Prices vary depending on the level of service you receive. With Swyft Filings, prices start at $149.
You can change your registered agent by filing the Resolution to Change Principal Office or Resident Agent form with the Maryland Secretary of State.
You can search for registered agent services online in the state and check for reviews and testimonials.
A registered office address is an official address where your registered agent receives documents intended for your business.
Statutory and registered agents are synonyms, meaning they’re both terms used for the same purpose. A Maryland resident agent can also be a synonym for a registered agent. However, it can also refer to somebody authorized to act on behalf of a property despite not being its owner.
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.
Maryland Business Express. “Home.” Accessed December 20, 2022.
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. “Articles of Organization.” Accessed December 20, 2022.
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. “Articles of Incorporation for a Stock Corporation.” Accessed December 20, 2022.
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. “Articles of Incorporation for a Tax-Exempt Nonstock Corporation.” Accessed December 20, 2022.
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. “Resolution to Change Principal Office or Resident Agent.” Accessed December 20, 2022.
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