How to Get a Registered Agent in Washington

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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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If you are a Washington business owner, you should know what a registered agent is. According to Washington state law, all businesses must appoint a registered agent to receive and forward legal correspondence on time. 

This in-depth guide covers the role and responsibilities of a Washington registered agent, how to elect or change your agent, and whether you should be your own or work with a third-party service.

Key Takeaways 

  • A registered agent is a person or business entity that receives legal documents on behalf of the business owner.

  • Failure to appoint a Washington registered agent can lead to hefty state fines and penalties.

  • Many business owners choose to hire a third-party registered agent to stay compliant rather than being a self-appointed agent.

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What Is a Registered Agent? 

A Washington registered agent is a business or individual responsible for receiving legal documents for your organization. It would help if you chose someone you trust to fulfill the duty. Otherwise, you risk missing necessary paperwork for your corporation or limited liability company (LLC).[1]

The Washington Secretary of State requires all business owners to provide information about their registered agents on their formation documents. Maintaining your good standing with the government depends on whether or not you’ve appointed a registered agent.

If you don’t appoint a registered agent, the government may revoke your business license, implement harsh fines, or remove your ability to sign legal contracts.

Registered Agent Responsibilities 

Having a Washington registered agent isn’t just standard red tape. The person or business performing this role on your behalf has several crucial responsibilities.

Articles of Formation

All Washington corporations, nonprofits, and LLCs must file their Articles of Formation with the state. The corporate filing requires you to list your agent and their contact information. This information must include a valid street address that can not coincide with your home or business address.

Government Forms

A registered agent accepts legal notices and government correspondence, including annual report reminders. Because of this, your agent must be available at a registered office during regular business hours to receive, accept, sort, and forward mail on your behalf. 

Service of Process

If another company or individual sues your organization, they must notify your enterprise of the lawsuit. In most states, government officials will deliver the lawsuit notice in person to make a record of your delivery date. Your registered agent receives it on your behalf and forwards it to you.

Registered Changes

You must inform the Washington Secretary of State if your business expands to another location. Additionally, you must notify the state when your registered agent changes their address or if you hire another agent.[2] For these changes and similar updates, your registered agent is responsible for filing the appropriate form. 

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Choosing Your Washington Registered Agent 

A Washington registered agent is a state requirement, and you should be careful when selecting yours. Let’s go over what criteria your registered agent needs to meet and whether or not you can be your own.

Washington Registered Agent Requirements 

The state of Washington has the following requirements for a limited liability company, nonprofit, or corporation registered agent:

  • Be at least 18 years old

  • Have a physical street address in the state

  • List their name and address on the formation documents

The Washington registered agent must work from their registered office during regular business hours to receive service of process and keep your business in good standing with the Secretary of State. The registered office address can not be a P.O. box or mail forwarding service. 

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Washington? 

If you are an adult, a Washington resident, and have a physical street address, you can be your own registered agent. However, while a business entity can be a registered agent, your company can’t act as its own agent.

It may make sense for you to act as your own registered agent, but it’s essential to consider both the advantages and drawbacks of the role. Let’s dive into each side.

Advantages of Being Your Own Registered Agent 

Some business owners spend much of their time at their office addresses, especially in the first year. In this case, being your organization’s registered agent might simply be convenient. However, you must always be available during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. 

Being your own registered agent can also be a good decision from a financial standpoint because you don’t have to hire third parties. You can also cut out an intermediary and receive all your mail, including lawsuits and service of process, straight to you.

Disadvantages of Being Your Own Registered Agent 

The biggest disadvantage of being your own agent is that you must always be present at your registered office during standard business hours. As a busy entrepreneur, you might have more important business to tend to, such as:

  • Customer service

  • Marketing 

  • Planning and strategy

  • Recruiting

  • Business compliance              

  • Brand awareness

If you are not at your registered office to accept service of process paperwork, it could lead to a default judgment. Your company can also be subject to harsh state fines, penalties, or dissolution if you miss a compliance deadline or notice.

Your registered office also becomes part of the public record. This could be a major problem if you run a home-based organization or prefer to separate your business from your personal life. If your company is sued, a government official will show up at your address, which could be embarrassing if you’re with clients, family, or neighbors. 

You must have a registered agent in each state you operate from. Being a self-designated registered agent would limit your company to your home state only. If you choose to expand your business into other states, you must appoint another agent, buy a local office space, and notify your state of the address change.

Benefits of a Third-Party Registered Agent 

Although appointing yourself might seem beneficial, the disadvantages are often overwhelming. Thankfully, third-party registered agent services offer a better solution. 

Here’s how a third-party registered agent can streamline your company.

No Risk

The primary focus of a Washington registered agent is to receive and forward correspondence. By outsourcing this role, you can rest assured knowing they’ll receive every legal notification and send it to you in time.

The best Washington registered agent services have robust solutions to optimize how you receive these documents. For example, our reliable agents recognize the most important papers and dispatch them to your office in no time, alerting you before the start of any proceedings. This lowers the chances of penalties and helps preserve your good standing.

Privacy and Availability

A Washington registered agent service acts as the point of contact for legal correspondence on your behalf. They’re always available during regular business hours to receive documents, allowing you to focus on other parts of your business.

All your mail goes straight to your agent to protect your privacy. They can forward the mail at your discretion so you avoid discussing legal matters in front of your clients, friends, and family.  

Well-Developed Network

If you have business operations outside of Washington or plan to expand, you need a registered agent in each state. However, this can be expensive and difficult to set up, especially if you are your own agent.

Alternatively, a registered agent service already has a system of agents throughout the US, eliminating the need and cost associated with expanding into other states. 

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How to Set Up Your Washington Registered Agent 

No matter who you choose to be your registered agent, you need to know how to set one up or change your existing one. Here are the steps you should take in each instance for your Washington LLC, nonprofit, or corporation.

Electing a Washington Registered Agent 

You will appoint your Washington registered agent in your Articles of Incorporation. We can file for your LLC, nonprofit, or corporation on your behalf and fulfill your registered agent requirements. Alternatively, you can visit the Washington Secretary of State website to file for your business and elect an agent. The state fees for online filing are $200.

If you want to form your company by mail, you must download the Certificate of Formation form, fill it out, and submit a copy to the Secretary of State using the below address.[3] The filing fee by mail is $180.

Washington Office of the Secretary of State

Corporations and Charities Division

801 Capitol Way S.

Olympia, WA 98504-023

Changing a Washington Registered Agent 

To change the agent for your Washington LLC, nonprofit, or corporation, you only need to complete the Statement of Change of Registered Agent Form.[4] You can submit the form to the Secretary of State by mail using the address above or through an online account. 

Your new registered agent must agree to their role by signing a written consent.[5] There are no state fees for changing your registered agent in Washington.

If you plan to switch to our registered agent service, we will handle all the paperwork on your behalf so you can get more time back to focus on your business.

Why Choose Swyft Filings as Your Washington 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.

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Who can be a Washington registered agent?

Anyone can be a Washington registered agent if they’re at least 18 years old, reside in Washington, and have a physical address.

How much does a registered agent in Washington cost?

Registered agent services in Washington typically cost between $100-$300 per year.

How do I change my registered agent in Washington?

You can change your agent by completing and submitting the Statement of Change of Registered Agent Form to the Secretary of State.[4]

How do I find a registered agent in Washington?

A great way to find registered agents in Washington is to search online for local and national companies or to read online reviews of the best registered agent providers. 

What is a Washington registered office?

A Washington registered office is the physical office address where your registered agent receives legal paperwork on your behalf.

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

A registered agent, resident agent, and statutory agent are different terms for the same role. Some businesses use “resident agent” to emphasize that the agent must be a state resident. Others use “statutory agent” to highlight that a statute mandates the role.

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. Washington Secretary of State. “FAQ – Registered Agent.” Accessed December 23, 2022.

  2. Washington State Legislature. “Title 25, Chapter 25.15, Section 25.15.021.” Accessed December 23, 2022.

  3. Washington Secretary of State. “Certificate of Formation of a Limited Liability Company.” Accessed December 23, 2022.

  4. Washington Secretary of State. “Statement of Change.” Accessed December 23, 2022.

  5. Washington State Legislature. “Title 23, Chapter 23.95, Section 23.95.415.” Accessed December 23, 2022.

Originally published on March 28, 2023, and last edited on September 11, 2023.
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