If you operate an LLC or corporation in Washington, 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 to renew your annual business license, prompts to file your annual report, and more.
In Washington, 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 Washington registered agent services. Which one should you use?
An Overview of Washington 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 per year, ZenBusiness will serve as your registered agent in Washington, 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington requires.
In Washington, we’ll need to take a look at The Uniform Business Corporations Code, which says:
- Every entity that files with the Secretary of State (both domestic and foreign) must appoint a commercial or noncommercial registered agent
- The commercial registered agent is one that has registered to be included on the state database, usually offering services for a fee
- A noncommercial agent may be an individual resident of the state OR an individual within the business itself that will accept service of process
- The agent must commit to the appointment
- An agent must be continuously maintained
All of the companies we’re about to discuss meet these regulations and are great options for Washington 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 Washington Registered Agent Services
#1 – ZenBusiness ($99)
We’re a big fan of what ZenBusiness has to offer in several ways. If you haven’t yet formed your Washington LLC or corporation, ZenBusiness has an outstanding bargain if you use our ZenBusiness discount. For just $39, they will form your new business entity and provide one full year of registered agent 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 Washington, ZenBusiness has a highly reasonable $99 annual rate. Let’s take a look at some of its pros and cons, then discuss how these should affect your decision.
- Low $99 price point
- Free registered agent service with business formation
- Great customer feedback
- Strong customer service
- Not as much experience as some competitors
While that $99 price tag isn’t the absolute lowest price available for Washington registered agent service, it’s still very reasonable. ZenBusiness also offers a $149 package that includes annual report service, an excellent bargain at that price.
We found more than 6,200 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 Washington 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 Washington 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 Washington. 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
- High prices for business formations
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.
Like ZenBusiness, Northwest also offers a year of registered agent service in Washington 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 Washington.
#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 Washington. 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 Washington 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 Washington registered agent service. In fact, LegalZoom’s rate is a total non-starter, roughly double what Rocket Lawyer charges and triple ZenBusiness’ price point.
- 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 Washington Registered Agent Services
Who can serve as a registered agent in Washington?
In Washington, 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 Washington 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).
Washington is a bit unique because they maintain a system of commercial and noncommercial registered agents. But let’s clear things up: both types of agent fulfill the state’s statutory requirement, and they both accomplish the exact same tasks. A commercial agent simply registers with the state to be included on the state database of agents, essentially advertising their services as a business venture. Noncommercial agents, however, are appointed on a private basis.
Must my registered agent be located in Washington?
Yes. If your registered agent is an individual, that person must live in Washington. If your agent is a business entity, that company must either be a domestic Washington business or one with authority to conduct business in the state.
How can I change my registered agent in Washington?
Washington actually gives you two methods to change your registered agent. If you have not yet filed your annual report and the time frame is still open, you can simply make the change on your annual report filing. At all other times of year, you can file the Statement of Change/Designation of Agent form online or by mail. Neither method incurs an additional fee (the Statement of Change is free, and there is nothing added to the $50 annual report fee if you change your agent that way). For more information on how to change your registered agent in Washington, look here.
How does the Washington registered agent resignation process work?
If your registered agent chooses to resign and no longer serve as your agent, they will notify you and the Secretary of State by filing a Statement of Resignation. This form does not become effective until the 31st day after filing it, which gives you time to find a replacement agent and avoid any lapses in your agent coverage.
How much does it cost to change my Washington registered agent?
As long as you file your paperwork in a timely fashion and don’t allow any lapses in your registered agent coverage, you won’t incur any additional penalties or fees. That keeps your filing fee at zero for the Statement of Change and $50 for the full annual report.
What are my options if I don’t want to hire a Washington 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: