A registered agent is the individual or business entity that receives legal documents from the state, and then forwards them to your business address. But why is this a requirement, and who should you designate as your registered agent in Arizona?
In this guide, we will break down all the details you need to know about Arizona registered agents.
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What is an Arizona Registered Agent?
One of the most common questions we receive from entrepreneurs in Arizona is why a registered agent is required to form an LLC or corporation. While it might seem like an unnecessary middle-man type of role, the registered agent fills a vital role.
The registered agent’s job is to provide a reliable way for the state to contact an official representative of your business at any time, which is especially important if your business is ever sued. If you didn’t have a registered agent, a lawsuit could progress through the courts without you even knowing about it, which is obviously far from ideal.While Arizona does not provide a recommended list of registered agent services, we reviewed the top options and compiled a list of the best Arizona registered agent services based on price and overall value.
Who Can Be an Arizona Registered Agent?
Arizona’s Corporation Commission is in charge of dictating and regulating the registration and operation of LLCs and corporations in the state. According to their requirements, statutory agents can be either a corporation or an LLC that is authorized to do business in the state, or an adult individual who is a resident of Arizona. In all cases, statutory agents must have a physical address in Arizona; P.O. boxes do not suffice.
Foreign LLCs and corporations may serve as registered agents as long as they have authorization to do business in the state and have a physical address within Arizona. In most cases, adult individuals who are residents of the state of Arizona may serve as their own statutory agent.
Aside from the legal requirements, an important aspect to discuss is who should be your registered agent. You have the right to declare yourself as your own registered agent, which has its pros and cons.
On the positive side, you can save some money by not paying anyone to serve as your agent, but you’ll also likely need to make your home address a matter of public record, which is not ideal. Additionally, you’ll need to be physically present at your business during all standard operating hours (9-5, M-F).
Some entrepreneurs like to have a friend or family member serve as their registered agent, but if that person doesn’t have experience in this position, they might not know what is expected of them. In addition, designating your lawyer or accountant as a registered agent can work, but these options are usually quite expensive.
Our preference is to hire a professional registered agent service, which provides a combination of convenience, affordability, and peace of mind that is unrivaled by any of these other options.
How Do Arizona Residents Get Served?
The most important part of a registered agent’s role is being served a summons.
In Arizona, before any legal action is taken, plaintiffs are instructed to first draft and send a demand letter. A demand letter aims to inform a person or business of a law they’ve violated and all consequential damages you’ve suffered as a result. It serves as an opportunity for entities to settle outside of court. If no agreement can be reached, a legal case may move forward.
In order for a summons to be processed in Arizona, the plaintiff first must draft a complaint and submit it to the clerk’s office. The plaintiff must fill out an appropriate complaint form for the court the case will be filed in. Each court has its own formatting requirements. In some cases, a civil cover sheet may be required to submit the complaint.
Next, the plaintiff must complete a summons. In some states, the summons is processed and delivered by the state, but in Arizona the summons is delivered by the plaintiff. After completion of the summons form, the clerk will instruct the plaintiff on how to serve the defendant.
Lastly, copies will be made of all necessary documents before they’re presented to the clerk’s office for filing. Filing fees vary depending on the court. In most cases, the fee is around $52 for a small claims court and $300 in a federal court. If financial hardship can be proven, the plaintiff may be eligible for a fee waiver or deferral.
After these steps are taken and the clerk has filed the claim, the plaintiff may serve the summons to the defendant’s statutory agent.
How to Designate an Arizona Registered Agent
The answer to this question depends on what type of business you’re starting, but with either a corporation or an LLC, you’ll need to designate your registered agent when you form your company.
All necessary documents to form your company and designate your statutory agent can be found on the Arizona Corporation of Commission’s website at this link. The requirements and documents necessary to designate a statutory agent for an LLC differ from those needed to designate one for a corporation; be sure to select the correct forms under the dropdowns titled either “Corporation Forms” or “Limited Liability Company Forms” when completing documents.
The statutory agent for an LLC can be designated by completing field #4 of the Articles of Organization form, which can found be found here. After completion, this form must be mailed accompanied by all other designated forms and a $50 regular processing fee.
To designate a statutory agent for a corporation, you must list the name and address of the agent in field #4 of the Articles of Incorporation form which can be found as a PDF file at this link. Please note that this form is specifically for for-profit organizations only; non-profit organizations must seek a separate, specified form. After completion, the document must be mailed along with all other necessary forms and a filing fee of $60.
In order for the designation of a statutory agent to be accepted, both the Articles of Organization form for LLCs and the Articles of Incorporation form for corporations must be accompanied by a Statutory Agent Acceptance Form. This constitutes the statutory agent’s formal acceptance of the role and must include his/her signature.
Once completed, all necessary forms must be mailed (along with their appropriate filing fees) to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
How Can I Change My Arizona Registered Agent?
If you would like to change your registered agent for any reason, the process is pretty simple.
To change your existing agent’s address or declare an entity your new registered agent, you must first fill out one of the two Statement of Change forms found on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Website.
Depending on whether your company is registered as an LLC or a corporation, you’ll need to either fill out the LLC Statement of Change form found here or the Corporation Statement of Change form found here.
Next, you must have your new statutory agent complete the Statutory Agent Acceptance Form. This document is appropriate for both LLCs and corporations alike.
Lastly, as with all documents submitted to the Arizona Corporation Commission, you’ll need to fill out a cover sheet to accompany your documents. These three forms (the Statement of Change, the Statutory agent Acceptance form, and the cover sheet) can be submitted by mail, fax or in person to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Arizona LLCs must include a standard processing fee of $5 to change their statutory agent, while corporations may change their agent free of charge. Standard processing generally takes around 20 business days, but expedited filing is available for an additional fee of $35.
How Does an Arizona Registered Agent Resign?
Sometimes, a registered agent may have to resign from their position.
Whether the company is an LLC or a corporation, the current registered agent must complete a Statutory Agent Resignation Form in order to step down.
The forms for the resignation of both corporate and LLC statutory agents can be found on the “Forms” page of the Arizona Corporation Commission’s website. Current statutory agents of LLCs must fill out this form specified for LLCs in order to step down, while those of corporations are required to fill out the corporation-specific form found here.
There is no filing fee to resign from serving as the statutory agent of an LLC. However, to step down from serving as the statutory agent of a corporation, you must pay a $10 regular processing fee.
As with all documents submittable to the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Statutory Agent Resignation form must be submitted with a cover sheet. After completing the Statutory Agent Resignation and cover sheet, you can submit it by mail to the Arizona Corporation Commission at the following address:
Arizona Corporation Commission
Corporate Filings Section
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Why Should You Hire a Professional Arizona Registered Agent Service?
Hiring a professional registered agent is basically the best of both worlds between serving as your own agent, and designating a lawyer or accountant.
The biggest benefit in our opinion is the privacy protection this allows, as you will be able to keep your personal address private. There’s also a major advantage compared to having an attorney or accountant serve as your agent, namely the fact that registered agent services are almost always much cheaper.
Another reason we like this option is that these companies specialize in providing quality registered agent service. They know exactly what’s expected of them, and there are rarely any issues to speak of.
The other major benefit of hiring a registered agent service is that most of them operate in all 50 states, so that if you ever want to expand your business into another state, you won’t need to hire an additional registered agent. Your same registered agent will be able to provide the coverage you need in your new state, while still providing the same service in Arizona. If you hired a lawyer or accountant, they would only be able to help you expand to a new state if they have another physical office in that state.
You Stay Compliant
Finally, most professional registered agents operating in Arizona offer some sort of compliance calendar. With this service, your registered agent helps you keep track of due dates for ongoing LLC maintenance requirements like annual reports, which is a valuable bonus.
The top registered agent service providers include some other appealing attributes, including access to their extensive customer support networks. Some of them include a full year of registered agent service with any business formation package, which can be a real money-saver. Another welcome attribute is that some registered agent services provide volume discounts if you require service in multiple states, or if you prepay for multiple years.
What Is the Penalty for Not Designating a Registered Agent in Arizona?
You need to have a registered agent to form your limited liability company or corporation in Arizona in the first place, but if you let your registered agent service lapse, there could be some serious consequences.
Failure to maintain a registered agent could lead to your business losing its good standing with the state of Arizona, and the state also has the right to officially dissolve your LLC if they choose to.
Another issue would be the difficulty of being served if your business is sued. If the state cannot get ahold of your registered agent, a court may decide to go ahead with the lawsuit without your knowledge, which could even lead to a judgment against you. This can happen not just if you fail to designate a registered agent, but also if your agent is not present during business hours to accept the document delivery.
As you can see, the task of designating a registered agent for your Arizona business isn’t quite as easy as just writing down your own name.
There are significant downsides to just about every option in our opinion, but we recommend hiring a professional registered agent service because that option has the fewest disadvantages. They charge affordable rates, and you never have to worry about losing your good standing, having your LLC or corporation dissolved, or having a lawsuit proceed in your absence.
If you have any further questions, you can contact the Arizona Secretary of State:
Arizona Corporation Commission
400 W. Congress, 2nd Floor
Tucson, AZ 85701
No Mail Received – Walk in Only
Arizona Corporation Commission
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Alternatively, you can reach out directly to the Corporate Filings section of the Corporations Division by email at firstname.lastname@example.org