How To Get a Registered Agent in West Virginia

Charleston West Virginia skyline on the Kanawha River

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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 Carlos Serrano
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Launching a West Virginia business entity comes with specific requirements. Suppose you’re creating a West Virginia LLC or corporation. In that case, your business must receive business correspondence and legal documents reliably and on time. This is where a West Virginia registered agent comes into play.

West Virginia Registered Agent: Key Takeaways

  • A West Virginia registered agent is the main point of contact between a West Virginia LLC or corporation and the state or other parties.

  • All West Virginia LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits must have a registered agent with a physical address in the state. 

  • Per West Virginia state law, individuals and LLCs or corporations can act as registered agents. Individuals must be at least 18 years old, and businesses must be authorized to do business in the state.

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What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is the designated point of contact between a West Virginia LLC and the government and legal correspondence. Some business owners think a registered agent is only a middleman receiving business mail. Hiring a registered agent might look like a minor aspect of doing business.

However, those notions couldn’t be further from the truth. The services of a registered agent are crucial in terms of business efficiency and compliance.

With a registered agent, an organization receives a reliable business address for official correspondence. The professional registered agent service will handle all legal notices and business filings immediately as they arrive.

Registered agents aren’t limited to working with West Virginia-based businesses. They can also serve companies originating in a different state operating in West Virginia.

Registered Agent Responsibilities

Registered agents share specific responsibilities in every state, including West Virginia. Their primary responsibilities include:

  • Having a physical agent’s address

  • Operating during regular business hours

  • Receiving legal documents and business mail on behalf of the agent’s client

  • Notifying the client about the incoming mail

  • Forwarding the inbound documents to the client

West Virginia legislature defines all responsibilities of a registered agent.[1] West Virginia doesn’t posit particular requirements that would make the conditions different from those registered agents may encounter in other U.S. states.

A registered agent service may be beneficial for your annual reports and other business documents. But the true importance of the service will show if your company gets sued.

When a process server has delivered your summons, a process has already been implemented. This process is relatively complex and won’t be repeated. In other words, if you miss the summons, you might lack crucial information about your case.

When a plaintiff has a claim against your business, they’ll do the following:

  • Contact the District Court in your district

  • Submit a Statement of Claim form

  • File the affidavit and Request for Service form

After these steps, you’ll be served the summons. However, you might have only one chance to receive it. If you miss that window, the process might continue regardless of your involvement.

A registered agent will stop such unfortunate predicaments. 

The service will receive your service of process and forward it to you in time. You’ll usually receive a same-day service from your registered agent since they’re always active during regular business hours.

West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston West Virginia

Choosing Your West Virginia Registered Agent

To become a West Virginia registered agent, the individual or business must fulfill specific requirements. You may choose an agent to represent you or become your own registered agent. Let’s look at which option is better.

West Virginia Registered Agent Requirements

The West Virginia Secretary of State states that registered agents can be businesses or individuals. For a company to fulfill its role, it must be in good standing and authorized to operate within West Virginia. On the other hand, individuals looking to become registered agents must be residents of West Virginia.

Every registered agent needs to have a documented physical street address. Like other U.S. states, West Virginia doesn’t recognize PO Boxes as registered office addresses.

Essential agent information like their address must become a part of the public record. This is extremely useful for receiving documents and notifications for easier mail forwarding to the agent’s client. The agent must fill out appropriate forms if they need a change of address.

When forming your West Virginia corporation, small business, nonprofit, or limited liability company, you must designate a registered agent immediately. But the service will lapse if not maintained.

In that case, there may be severe consequences for your West Virginia business.

You could miss out on important court summons. If you don’t receive the summons, the court could move the lawsuit forward without you. Worse yet, a judgment could be passed in your absence.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in West Virginia?

You can become your own registered agent in West Virginia. However, there might be better choices for your business.

Acting as your own registered agent comes with advantages and disadvantages. Yet, the only meaningful advantages relate to expenses — you can save some money by not hiring a third-party registered agent. However, the savings aren’t particularly significant and might not be worth the potential disadvantages:

  • You’ll need to submit your address to the public record

  • You’ll need to be available to receive mail throughout the workday

  • The job may become overwhelming and confusing if you don’t have sufficient experience as a registered agent

You could select someone else as your in-house registered agent. For instance, a coworker, friend, or family member could jump into that role. But you might still have complications.

If you choose a familiar face as your registered agent, they might need more experience in the field. It could result in additional confusion and occasional errors. And when it comes to handling vital business mail, the risk might be extremely high.

Finally, you can appoint your lawyer, accountant, or another associate as a registered agent. These professionals might navigate the job much better, but their additional services will likely cost considerably. Going this route could mean you’d be paying more than if you hired a registered agent service.

Benefits of a Third-Party Registered Agent

Hiring a professional registered agent service can ensure many benefits for your business. Your registered agent will have no issues handling your mail, making all related processes more convenient. Plus, the service will be more affordable than alternative solutions. You’ll get peace of mind for a relatively small price.

Your registered agent should be experienced and knowledgeable about their role. Their services will provide various advantages, including:

  • Complete coverage during business hours

  • Receiving and forwarding annual report reminders, business documents, and court summons

  • The ability to use an online account for the fastest mail forwarding

  • Ensuring good standing with the state and complete regulation compliance

Charleston West Virginia skyline at twilight

How To Set Up Your West Virginia Registered Agent

You’ll be interested in how to set up a registered agent in West Virginia for two reasons: either you’re starting a new business and need to appoint an agent, or you’re considering changing your existing agent service.

Either way, you must understand the correct procedures for finding, appointing, or changing your West Virginia agent. Here is what you need to know.

Electing a West Virginia Registered Agent

Finding a trusted registered agent on your own can be complex. You may see many search results and ads, but determining whether the service offers everything you need isn’t easy.

The Secretary of State of West Virginia made the search process more manageable. You can find a business entity search page on the official Secretary of State website.[2] This page will allow you to search for businesses and registered agents.

You can opt for a trusted registered agent service like Swyft Filings to save time. Our service has the experience and professionalism to ensure your business operates seamlessly and stays compliant.

After you find the best service for your business, it will be time to appoint a registered agent.

The registered agent must be appointed within the formation documents for new businesses. However, these documents won’t be the same depending on whether you’re founding a corporation or an LLC.

You must complete the Articles of Organization when starting a West Virginia LLC. Your registered agent’s information, including their name and address, should be entered in section five. The fee for submitting this document is $100.

Corporation business owners will need to fill out the Articles of Incorporation form. The agent’s info will go into section four of the document. Filing this form comes with three different fee scales:

  • $100 for for-profit corporations

  • $25 for nonprofit corporations

  • Free for young entrepreneurs or veteran-owned businesses

It’s worth mentioning that neither document says “registered agent.” Instead, both forms require you to name “the person (agent)” who will fulfill that purpose.

The agent doesn’t need to sign your Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation. Your signature on the documents will certify that the agent was appointed with their permission.

Changing a West Virginia Registered Agent

You’ll find changing your registered agent in West Virginia to be straightforward. You’ll need to collect the basic information about your old and new registered agents, fill out an online form, and submit it to the Secretary of State.

You can get basic information about the process on the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website.[3]

It’s worth noting that while the form can be submitted in printed form, doing it online will be much faster and more convenient. Regardless of how you file the form, you’ll need to cover the state fee of $15.

Documents for changing a registered agent differ slightly between states. However, the essential information you’ll need to gather will be the same in West Virginia as in the rest of the U.S.

The required fields in the form will include the following:

  • Your full business name

  • The registered agent’s name and address for your current agent

  • The information of your new registered agent

  • The signature of an authorized individual or business owner

Why Choose Swyft Filings as Your West Virginia 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

FAQs

Who can be a West Virginia registered agent?

According to the West Virginia Secretary of State, any authorized business and West Virginia resident can be a registered agent. The company must be in good standing, and the agent’s address must be a physical address in West Virginia, not a PO Box or virtual mailing address.

How much does a registered agent in West Virginia cost?

The price for a registered agent in West Virginia can vary depending on the type of service, with costs typically ranging from $50 to $350 per year. Swyft Filings professional registered agent services start at $199 per year.

How can I change my registered agent in West Virginia?

You can change your West Virginia registered agent by filling out Agent Address or Officer Change (AAO) form. This form can be completed and submitted online, with a small $15 fee.

How can I find a registered agent in West Virginia?

The best way to find a registered agent in West Virginia would be to contact the office of the Secretary of State. The office will have helpful suggestions that provide a more straightforward solution than searching for registered agents in the open market.

What is a West Virginia registered office?

A registered office in West Virginia is the official address of a company in the state. This registered office address must be a physical street address that the company can use to receive formal correspondence and business mailings.

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

“Statutory agent,” “resident agent,” and “registered agent” are three different terms that mean the same thing. Older corporate circles continue to use “statutory agent,” a term that has largely fallen out of practice. “Resident agent” is still used in certain states like Kansas, Maryland, and Michigan.

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.

Bibliography

  1. West Virginia legislature. “31D-5-501.” Accessed January 10, 2023.

  2. West Virginia Secretary of State. “Business Entity Search and/or Request for Certificates of Existence.” Accessed January 10, 2023.

  3. West Virginia Secretary of State. “Agent Address and/or Officer Change.” Accessed January 10, 2023.

Originally published on May 11, 2023, and last edited on September 11, 2023.
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