If you operate an LLC or corporation in North Carolina, you need to designate a registered agent to accept document deliveries from the state. You have a few options regarding who should provide this vital service, our favorite of which is hiring a registered agent service.
These companies will serve as your registered agent in exchange for an annual fee, keeping your business in compliance with state law by receiving documents like service of process, tax documents, reminders when your annual report is coming due, and more.
In North Carolina, there are quite a few reputable companies offering registered agent service, which can make it difficult to determine which company is your best choice. That’s why we took a deep dive into all of your options to create this list of the best North Carolina registered agent services. Which one should you use?
An Overview of North Carolina Registered Agent Services
Before we dig too deeply into any of these companies, we will also share a quick overview of the best options. After all, we know how busy you are, and you might just want to identify the best company and move on.
For our money, it doesn’t get any better than ZenBusiness. For just $99 for the first year ($199 after that), ZenBusiness will serve as your registered agent in North Carolina, providing reliable service at a fair price. ZenBusiness has thousands of positive reviews, it’s a socially conscious company, and it offers solid customer support. What’s not to like?
However, it’s not all about ZenBusiness. We also appreciate what several other companies have to offer for North Carolina registered agent service, especially Northwest Registered Agent and Incfile. Is one of them a better fit for your business? Or is hiring ZenBusiness the right call? Read on to find out!
What Does North Carolina Law Say About Registered Agents?
Each state has its own rules and regulations surrounding registered agents. For the most part, these laws are fairly similar, but it’s always worth taking a look to see what North Carolina requires.
In North Carolina, we’ll need to take a look at The North Carolina Business Corporation Act, which says:
- Every entity that files with the Secretary of State (both domestic and foreign) must appoint a registered agent
- The agent must be an individual resident of North Carolina OR a business entity with authority to operate in the state
- An agent must be continuously maintained
All of the companies we’re about to discuss meet these regulations and are great options for North Carolina registered agent service. When you’ve made your choice, you can indicate your registered agent’s name and address on your Articles of Organization. Here’s where you’ll include that information:
The Best North Carolina Registered Agent Services
#1 – ZenBusiness ($99 for the first year, then $199)
We’re a big fan of what ZenBusiness has to offer in several ways. If you haven’t yet formed your North Carolina LLC or corporation, ZenBusiness has an outstanding bargain. For just $49, they will form your new business entity and provide one full year of annual report service. This is one of the lowest price points we’ve ever seen for this combination of features!
When it comes to ongoing registered agent service in North Carolina, ZenBusiness has a highly reasonable $99 annual rate for the first year, although this jumps to $199 for subsequent years. Let’s take a look at some of its pros and cons, then discuss how these should affect your decision.
- Low $99 price point for the first year
- Free annual report service with business formation
- Great customer feedback
- Strong customer service
- Higher $199 annual rate after first year
- Not as much experience as some competitors
While that $99-199 price tag isn’t the absolute lowest price available for North Carolina registered agent service, it’s still reasonable.
We found more than 10,000 reviews of ZenBusiness online and nearly all of them were positive, giving them one of the best customer satisfaction reputations in the industry. They also have a helpful and knowledgeable customer support department that can always answer our tough questions.
The only real drawback of ZenBusiness for registered agent service in North Carolina is the fact that they have less experience than some competitors, especially industry giants like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. Overall though, ZenBusiness ranks first in our list of the best North Carolina registered agent services.
#2 – Northwest Registered Agent ($125)
Next up is Northwest Registered Agent, a company that offers more of a premium registered agent service in North Carolina. Northwest no longer provides free mail forwarding service with its registered agent offering, which used to be a cornerstone of its service. However, it still has plenty of advantages.
How does Northwest Registered Agent stack up to the competition?
- Industry-best customer support
- Volume discounts available
- Free registered agent service with business formation
- Not as many features as some competitors
Northwest Registered Agent’s calling card is its outstanding customer support. Instead of outsourcing its support network to a generic call center with questionably trained representatives, Northwest keeps its support team in-house. It’s not a stretch to say that everyone who answers the phone for Northwest is a true industry expert.
Northwest offers a year of registered agent service in North Carolina with any business formation service purchase, for just $39 plus state fee.
We appreciate Northwest’s volume discounts for registered agent service, as they’ll slash your rate from $125 to $100 annually if you require service in at least five states. In addition, they receive strong customer reviews and offer free annual report reminders.
Without the free mail forwarding offer, Northwest’s service doesn’t compare as favorably to ZenBusiness as it used to. However, there’s still plenty under the hood to make Northwest a strong contender to provide your registered agent service in North Carolina.
#3 – Incfile ($119)
Incfile’s big claim to fame is its offer of free business formation service, which includes a year of registered agent service as well! This is just the tip of the iceberg for Incfile, so let’s take a look at what else they have to offer.
- Free business formation service with registered agent
- Excellent customer feedback
- Lots of upsells
With more than 30,000 reviews available online, Incfile maintains very high average rating scores, making them an impressive pick for registered agent service in North Carolina. We don’t know of any other companies that combine this volume of reviews with the high level of quality feedback Incfile receives.
However, one drawback of using Incfile is how they can be rather relentless with upsell attempts. Incfile has plenty of add-on features available, and it will certainly remind you of that fact several times as you work your way through their order form.
Overall, if Incfile’s registered agent pricing was just a touch lower, they might be our top pick for North Carolina registered agent service. As is, they’re still a rock-solid option.
#4 – Rocket Lawyer ($149.99)
Rocket Lawyer is one of the industry’s biggest names, with millions of customers served and a robust advertising budget that gets its name out. Rocket Lawyer’s pricing is a bit high, but if you’re looking for an experienced option, look no further.
- Tons of experience
- Solid customer satisfaction reputation
- Strong customer support
- Somewhat high price points
- No free registered agent service with business formations
Rocket Lawyer doesn’t have quite as many reviews as Incfile but it’s tough to question the high quality of the reviews it does receive. While its registered agent pricing doesn’t impress us, subscribers to Rocket Lawyer’s $39.99/month legal services program receive 25% off registered agent service, free business formation service, and more.
We are always impressed with Rocket Lawyer’s support network, as its representatives are responsive and helpful. Rocket Lawyer also offers extended support availability from 9 am to 9 pm every weekday. If you’re willing to spend a bit more in exchange for a company with tons of experience, or if you’re interested in Rocket Lawyer’s legal services subscription, give them a look.
#5 – LegalZoom ($299)
LegalZoom is similar to Rocket Lawyer in that it’s a company with millions of customers served that has an unfortunately high price point for North Carolina registered agent service. In fact, LegalZoom’s rate is a total non-starter, roughly double what Rocket Lawyer charges.
- Millions of customers served
- Industry’s longest support hours
- 100% satisfaction guaranteed
- Extremely high prices
We are impressed by LegalZoom’s 100% satisfaction guarantee, which is a much stronger refund policy than most competitors offer. Also, they have the longest customer support hours in this industry, with 14 hours per day of weekday availability and nine hours on weekends too!
That said, LegalZoom’s incredibly high price tag for registered agent service is a big problem. Seeing as this company also excludes registered agent service from its business formation packages, the other options in this guide all have significantly better value propositions than LegalZoom.
Frequently Asked Questions About North Carolina Registered Agent Services
Who can serve as a registered agent in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, there aren’t many complicated requirements for registered agent eligibility. Any individual or business entity located within the state can serve as your company’s registered agent. The only requirements are that they have a permanent address in North Carolina and that your company itself can not serve as its own registered agent (although you or one of your co-owners may assume this role individually).
Unlike some states, North Carolina does not have an explicit age requirement (some states require the appointed agent to be at least 18 years of age). That said, we do recommend that you pick a responsible individual that you trust or one of the services listed above. If the registered agent does not fulfill their duties completely and accurately, it can cause unnecessary hassle for a business. Most adults can fill this role easily, but we do recommend careful consideration while you make this appointment.
Must my registered agent be located in North Carolina?
Yes. If your registered agent is an individual, that person must live in North Carolina. If your agent is a business entity, that company must either be a domestic North Carolina business or one with authority to conduct business in the state.
How can I change my registered agent in North Carolina?
North Carolina keeps the process of changing your registered agent as simple as possible. All you have to do is download the Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent form, fill it out, and submit it to the Secretary of State along with the $5 filing fee. For more information on how to change your registered agent in North Carolina, look here.
How does the North Carolina registered agent resignation process work?
If your registered agent chooses to resign and no longer serve as your agent, they will notify both you and the Secretary of State using a Statement of Resignation of Registered Agent form. The filing date is effective 31 days after the resignation is submitted; during that time, you should find a replacement so there is no lapse in your registered agent coverage. North Carolina does not charge a filing fee for this resignation.
How much does it cost to change my North Carolina registered agent?
As long as you file compliantly and don’t let your registered agent coverage lapse, you will not incur any additional penalties or fees. That means your filing fee will stay at just $5 when you change your agent.
What are my options if I don’t want to hire a North Carolina registered agent service?
One common option is to serve as your company’s own registered agent, or enlist the assistance of a trusted friend or family member. The other route is to hire an attorney or accountant to handle this role. Maybe you prefer the added professionalism these people can provide, maybe you have an existing relationship with an attorney or accountant you trust, etc.
If you’re interested in hiring an attorney but don’t know where to start, we recommend taking a look on Avvo. We also dug through the top-rated lawyers on Avvo to create our own list of the top five business attorneys you could contact regarding registered agent service: