Do You Need a Registered Agent in North Carolina?


A registered agent is an individual or business entity whose job is to accept service of process, tax notices, business documents, and mail for your business at your registered office address during regular business hours. Maintaining a registered agent is a legal obligation in most states — including North Carolina.

Considering you have to have one, it’s lucky that a North Carolina registered agent can be useful to the running of your business. 

Read on to learn why you need a North Carolina registered agent for your business entity. 

*Sometimes people refer to a North Carolina registered agent as a statutory agent or a resident agent.*

Why Do You Need a Registered Agent in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Secretary of State, Business Registration Division makes it clear that a registered agent in North Carolina must be physically present at your company’s business address during regular business hours to receive service of process and legal documents on your company’s behalf. 

And your agent’s address must be a physical address located in North Carolina. This unfortunately disqualifies PO boxes from use. 

If you want to know more about what a registered agent does, I’ve written about it at length in What Is a Registered Agent? A registered agent can do much more than provide your company with a physical street address and fetch the mail for you!


It’s rare that a person has a knack for remembering important dates and anniversaries, but they do exist. It’s difficult for us muggles, however. Luckily, your North Carolina registered agent will keep track of filing deadlines for you. 

A registered agent in North Carolina functions as an intermediary between your business and government agencies (like the North Carolina Secretary of State), as well as other businesses and even law firms. Because of this, it’s also their job to keep you apprised of compliance filing deadlines so you don’t forget to file your annual report. 

Management of Important Documents

Your business address is where your company’s legal documents, official paperwork, and service of process are sent. That’s why it’s important you choose a dependable registered office address. 

The best registered agent services in North Carolina offer online document-management systems. With one of these systems, your North Carolina registered agent service will scan and upload your mail and documents to your online account the day they receive them. 

Not only can you view important legal notices (like service of process) and respond to them quickly, you’re also able to store and manage the mail that’s uploaded to it. Don’t want junk mail? Just delete it. You can use the system to store your important documents, too, which means you won’t have to keep up with stacks of file folders and physical copies. 

Service of Process

There’s no good way to explain the role of a registered agent without at least brushing the subject of service of process. A service of process is a legal notification that either means you’re being sued or contains a summons or subpoena requiring you to appear in court. 

No matter what it is, it’s not something that should happen often. But if your company is issued a service of process by a process server, your North Carolina registered agent will accept it on your behalf. 

Registered Agent Requirements

The requirements for registered agents are fairly standard across the United States. Here are a few of the requirements that your North Carolina registered agent needs to meet. 

State Law in North Carolina

Some states have developed specialized guidelines and laws that pertain to registered agents. So to make sure that your North Carolina registered agent is legitimate, you’ll need to read up on North Carolina state law. 

Physical Address in North Carolina

A registered agent must have a physical address in North Carolina. This means PO boxes are prohibited from use. 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent in North Carolina

All registered agents in North Carolina have to be over 18 years old. But if the person you’ve chosen meets all the legal requirements, you’re allowed to designate anyone you’d like as your North Carolina registered agent — an employee, a friend, a family member, your lawyer, or anyone you trust.

What Happens If My Business Operates Without a Registered Agent?

You need a registered agent in North Carolina because your business can face serious financial and legal repercussions without one. 

Missing a service of process could be the downfall of your company. It could result in ruinous default judgments against your company, or you could even find yourself being held in contempt of court. 

It’s not legal for your North Carolina business to operate without a registered agent. If the Secretary of State finds you operating without one, your company’s good standing is at stake. Without good standing, your company won’t qualify for loans, can’t expand into other states, and might be barred from conducting business in North Carolina. 

Without good standing, you could also lose your business name, as well as your limited liability protection. Not only that, you could lose your entire business altogether. That’s right. The Secretary of State can dissolve your business if you don’t comply with the law.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in North Carolina? 

Yes, but if you’re considering being your own agent, you should read about the pros and cons first and find out how they differ from hiring a professional registered agent service. 

Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent


An LLC benefits from limited liability protection. This protection divides your personal assets and finances from that of the company, and keeps them separate. If you’re your own registered agent, you could lose your limited liability protection if you mess up. 

If you fail to meet your company’s legal requirements, such as continually maintaining a registered agent and filing annual reports, the Secretary of State may dissolve your LLC via administrative dissolution. With the dissolution of your LLC, you lose your limited liability protection. 

Without this protection, you’ll be left alone to single-handedly bear the legal and financial responsibility for the company. In the unfortunate event of a lawsuit against your company, the litigants are within their rights to list your stuff as compensation. This means that your hard-earned money and personal assets are on the line. 

These consequences aren’t exclusive to LLCs. Any business entity — a sole proprietorship, limited liability partnership, or corporation — could be subject to serious legal and financial consequences if they don’t properly maintain a registered agent. 

Lack of Privacy

If you choose to be your own registered agent, certain bits of your personal information will be listed on public records. This includes your name and phone number. If your business doesn’t have a physical address or location, then your home address will be listed as your business address, too. 

With your information on the public record, criminals and hackers can access it and steal your identity. 

Another concern is that everyone can access your phone number and home address and use it however they wish, including unwanted visits to your home or unsolicited phone calls. 


Time is something in short supply for most business owners. And that gets worse if you pull double duty as a business owner and registered agent. You must be physically present at your registered office address during normal business hours. 

Most businesses operate during normal business hours, and considering you can’t be in two places at once, it’s nearly impossible to adequately do both jobs simultaneously. 

Pros of Being Your Own Registered Agent

There’s one good thing about being your own registered agent: you don’t have to pay fees for a registered agent service. But honestly, due to all of the risks and work involved, you might think twice about taking it on yourself. The good news is that most registered agent services are inexpensive. 

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

If your business operates in multiple states, you must have a registered agent for each state your company operates in. This could be accomplished by assigning a registered agent in every state, which could be both confusing and expensive, or by hiring a national registered agent service so that one company handles all your registered agent needs. 

That’s one example of why you may choose a registered agent service. Here are some other reasons to consider a North Carolina registered agent service:

  • The guarantee that someone will accept service of process for you
  • Compliance alerts so that you won’t miss annual reports
  • Easily meet legal obligations nationwide if you’re a big corporation or LLC
  • More time for running your business — or sleeping or yoga or making kombucha, you do you
  • No personal information on public records
  • Premium registered agent service options, like identity theft protection and payment of state fees
  • Business formation services with promotions, like a year of free North Carolina registered agent service

Ultimately, you’re the one in charge of your business and you’re the only one that can decide which services will best suit it. I’m not here to persuade you to use North Carolina registered agent services. But I will state that I always recommend registered agent services to new businesses. 

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?

Choosing the best North Carolina registered agent service can be tricky because there are so many different factors to take into consideration. Here are a few of the things you should be thinking about when choosing a registered agent for your North Carolina company. 

Service Features

Some North Carolina registered agents have state-of-the-art online document-management systems that put your legal mail and documents at your fingertips in no time. They’re also a great way to store your documents on a cloud-like system. Meanwhile, other North Carolina registered agent service companies are still peddling basic mail forwarding. 

Some North Carolina registered agent service providers issue compliance alerts, which make keeping up with compliance filing deadlines a breeze. With annual report reminders, it’s a lot less likely that you’ll forget to file an annual report with the North Carolina Secretary of State or lose your good standing. Many registered agents don’t do all this, though.

Compare the services of each North Carolina registered agent service and choose one that offers all the services your business needs. 


As a business owner, it’s only natural that you’d seek out a North Carolina registered agent service that provides an excellent value. To do that, you’ll need to compare its service offerings to its price. If a North Carolina registered agent has an unimpressive service list and a big price tag, you should likely give that registered agent a pass. 

Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of “budget agents” while searching for value. These North Carolina registered agent services promise start-up costs of $39–$59, and charge clients ridiculous additional fees for things like compliance alerts and online document-management systems that make life easier. So stay away from these budget agents! 

Easy Sign-Up 

Some registered agent service providers require you to fill out loads of paperwork and dig out bits of obscure information for them, and even when you get that done the process still takes weeks or months to complete. 

Save yourself some time and frustration by choosing a North Carolina registered agent service with a straightforward and speedy sign-up process. 

User-Friendly Interface 

Because you’ll use your registered agent’s system quite often, you don’t want it to be  full of technological malfunctions and bugs, with complicated layouts. Choose a North Carolina registered agent service with an easy-to-use interface, which will save you a lot of daily frustration. 

Customer Service 

It’s important that your North Carolina registered agent service has good customer service. When you have questions about requirements from the North Carolina Secretary of State, or experience a catastrophic glitch in the system that’s brought your workday to a screeching halt, you need someone who can accurately answer your questions and solve your problems. 

I combined these factors, plus my four-stage investigation process, to choose the best registered agent service: Northwest Registered Agent. If you’re interested in learning the various service offerings that North Carolina registered agents provide, or about how to choose your company’s registered agent service, read my guide on the Best Registered Agent Services.


As a new business owner in North Carolina, you’ve got your work cut out for you. A North Carolina registered agent can give you the leg up you need to take your industry by storm. 

If you’re ready to learn more about the service offerings of North Carolina registered agents, or how to pick the best registered agent for your North Carolina business, read the Best Registered Agent Services

If you haven’t formally established your business and want more information about LLC formation, read my guide on How to Start an LLC. And if you want the guidance of seasoned professionals who know how to cut through the red tape involved with the formation process, read the Best LLC Formation Services.

Registered Agent Service FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Commercial and a Noncommercial Registered Agent?

A commercial registered agent is a registered agent that has registered with the Secretary of State as a commercial registered agent service. In some places, all registered agent service providers are made to register as commercial registered agent services. 

A noncommercial registered agent is an individual or business entity that hasn’t registered itself as a commercial registered agent with the Secretary of State. If you’ve appointed a family member or friend as your registered agent in North Carolina, their official job title is “noncommercial registered agent.”

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

To change your current registered agent, you must fill out a Statement of Change of Registered Agent form, which contains information like your registered office street address and your registered agent’s name. You can submit the form online, in person, or by mail to the North Carolina Secretary of State Business Registration Division. There’s a filing fee of $5. 

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost? 

How much a registered agent service charges depends on which provider you choose and which services you need. Typically, registered agent services range anywhere from $39–$299 per state, per year, plus state fees. To learn more about registered agent pricing, read the Best Registered Agent Services

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