If you’re in the process of forming a Pennsylvania LLC, corporation, or nonprofit, you’ve probably come across the term “registered office” or “registered agent” and wondered what that means and if you need one.
This guide covers the responsibilities of this state-mandated role, how to elect or change one for your business, and the benefits of hiring a third-party registered agent service.
A registered agent is a person or entity assigned by business owners to receive all official business and legal documents on their behalf.
Every US state except New York requires a registered agent to start a new small business and keep it in good standing.
Failure to comply with registered agent requirements can lead to costly penalties, such as hefty fines, losing lawsuits, loss of limited liability in your limited liability company, and even dissolution of your Pennsylvania business.
Protect your privacy, avoid compliance issues, and choose a service trusted by over 300,000 businesses.
A registered agent is a person or entity assigned by business owners to receive all official business and legal documents on their behalf. Every US state except New York requires a registered agent to start a new small business and keep it in good standing.
A Pennsylvania registered agent is more generally referred to in official channels as a Pennsylvania registered office. However, because the term “registered office” is essentially the same as a “registered agent,” we’ll default to using the more common term here.
Your Pennsylvania registered agent will serve many crucial roles for your business. These responsibilities include:
Maintaining a physical business street address that gets listed on the public record
Keeping normal business hours
Receiving all official correspondence, including legal documents and service of process
Keeping your business in good standing for any corporate filings or decennial reports
Because your Pennsylvania registered agent is crucial to operating your business, choosing one you can rely on is essential. Here are some considerations to take when making this decision.
Anyone over 18 is eligible to be a Pennsylvania registered agent. Additional requirements and responsibilities of your business’s registered office include:
Must be able to accept service of process, government correspondence, and compliance documents
Must have a physical business address within the state of Pennsylvania (a P.O. box is not accepted)
Must be a Pennsylvania resident, a commercial registered office provider (CROP), or a third-party registered agent service with a physical address in the state of Pennsylvania
You should appoint a reliable Pennsylvania registered agent who can stay on top of all the official documents related to your business. Failure to comply with the above requirements can lead to costly penalties, such as hefty fines, losing lawsuits, loss of limited liability in your limited liability company, and even dissolution of your Pennsylvania business.
If you list a CROP or third-party registered agent service for your PA corporation or LLC registered agent without entering into a contract with that provider, you could face civil or criminal penalties.
Before hiring a CROP or third-party registered agent service, you’re probably wondering if you can be your own registered agent. This is allowed, but you should make a few considerations before going down that route.
It’s important to note that your registered office address will be listed on the public record. Because many small business owners start their businesses out of their homes, this can be a privacy concern if you act as your own registered agent.
Using your business’s public-facing address for your registered office may seem like a good idea to avoid the privacy concerns of using a personal address. Still, you should consider the ramifications of this.
If you’re your own registered agent, you increase the chance of facing negative optics from a process server showing up and serving legal documents in front of your customer base.
3. Business Hours
One of the responsibilities of a Pennsylvania registered agent is maintaining regular business hours. If you act as your registered agent, you must always be physically present and available at your registered office address during those business hours.
4. More Mail to Process
On top of all the mail you’ll receive as a part of your day-to-day business, acting as your registered agent means that you’ll also have to keep track of all your government, legal, and compliance documents. With so much mail to process, it can be easy for essential items to get lost in the shuffle, which could mean losing your business’s good standing.
5. One Registered Agent Per State
If you’re a first-time business owner in Pennsylvania, it might make sense to list yourself as your own registered agent for now. However, once your business expands to other states, you’ll likely need help. You must have a separate domestic registered agent address for every state where you register your business.
Many business owners benefit from hiring a third-party professional registered agent. The best Pennsylvania registered agent services take a huge burden off your shoulders by ensuring your essential documents are processed immediately, so your business remains in good standing.
Whether you’re setting up a new Pennsylvania LLC, corporation, or nonprofit, all new business owners must appoint a Pennsylvania registered agent. In this section, we’ll cover how to elect a registered agent while forming your business and how to change your agent.
When forming an LLC, corporation, nonprofit charitable organization, or any other business entity in Pennsylvania, you must provide an address for your Pennsylvania registered agent on your formation documents.
That means you’ll have to elect your Pennsylvania registered agent before you can fill out your formation documents. You can elect yourself, a person you know and trust, or hire a third-party registered agent servicE. The PA Department of State also maintains a list of CROPs you can select from on their website.
Your formation documents will either consist of a certificate of organization (for LLCs) or articles of incorporation (for corporations or nonprofits). You can find these registration documents on the Pennsylvania Department of State website.
Formation documents vary based on the business entity, but generally, the following information is required when filing a PA business registration:
Registered office or CROP address
Names of each incorporator/organizer
Future effective day, if not immediate
General description or benefit of business
State fees for registering any Pennsylvania business filing are the same, flat rate of $125.
You can submit your form online, or download your formation document PDF from the Pennsylvania Department of State website, fill it out, and mail it to the Bureau. Forms are also available to fill out in person or with a customer service representative over the phone.
You can also fill out an Expedited Service Request Form for expedited processing of your formation documents. They offer same-day processing for a filing fee of $100, three-hour processing for a filing fee of $300, and one-hour processing for a filing fee of $1000.
The registered office address you enter on your formation documents is not permanent for the duration of your business. The process is simple if you need to change your Pennsylvania registered agent.
The first step is determining whether you’re changing just the address of your registered office or changing the agent. In the first case, you’ll fill out a Change of Registered Office form. Second, complete a Statement of Change of Registered Office by Agent form.
For a Change of Registered Office form, you’ll need the following information:
Type of business
Current registered office address or CROP name
New registered office address or CROP name
The following information is required for a Change of Registered Office by Agent form:
Your business or association name
Current registered agent’s name
New registered agent’s name
New registered agent’s office address
If you choose Swyft Filings as your new registered agent, we’ll complete the change forms for you. Otherwise, you can submit your form online at the Bureau of Corporations Department. The state fee for submitting either of these forms is just $5.
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.
Pennsylvania residents over 18 can serve as PA registered agents if they have a physical address. Alternatively, you can hire a commercial registered office provider (CROP) or a third-party commercial registered agent service.
Usually, a registered agent service costs around $50-$300 per year, depending on the service.
To change your registered agent in Pennsylvania, you must file a Statement of Change of Registered Office by Agent with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The fee for filing this form is $5.
The Pennsylvania Department of State lists commercial registered office providers (CROPs) on their website. You can also conduct a Google search for registered agent services. Luckily, Swyft Filings offers a convenient and reliable registered agent service.
A Pennsylvania registered office serves the same purpose as a registered agent in most states. Your Pennsylvania registered office is the address you designate to receive official and legal documents regarding your business from the state.
Different states use different terminology for the role of an entity assigned to receive your government, legal, and compliance paperwork for your business. While in Pennsylvania, this role is referred to as a “registered office,” the terms “registered agent,” “resident agent,” and “statutory agent” all serve the same purpose.
A registered agent service is a third party that you can hire to take on the responsibilities of your Pennsylvania registered agent needs. Swyft Filings offers a convenient and reliable registered agent service to secure your privacy, provide immediate access to essential documents via our online dashboard, and keep your business compliant so you can focus on what matters: running your business how you want to.
Chamber of Commerce. “What Is a Registered Agent?” Accessed February 8, 2023.
Pennsylvania Department of State. “FAQs.” Accessed February 8, 2023.
Pennsylvania Department of State. “Commercial Registered Office Providers (CROPs).” Accessed February 8, 2023.
Pennsylvania Department of State. “Registration Forms.” Accessed February 8, 2023.
Pennsylvania Department of State. “Statement of Change of Registered Agent.” Accessed February 8, 2023.
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