Do You Need a Registered Agent in North Dakota?


Maintaining a commercial or noncommercial registered agent is not only a legal requirement for most business entities in the state of North Dakota, it’s also a smart business move. 

Registered agents have deep roots throughout the LLC formation process, and you’ll be hard-pressed to complete your formation documents without listing both a registered agent and an address for your business. A registered agent can also come in handy for compliance requirements. 

Keep reading this article to find out what a registered agent is, what it does, and why your business needs one. 

What Is a Registered Agent in North Dakota?

A registered agent is an individual or business entity that accepts your mail, service of process, and legal documents at your business office during business hours. 

Every business entity in the state must maintain a commercial or noncommercial registered agent. 

Sending all your company’s mail to a different address may seem like a convoluted scheme when you know you need those documents, but the second half of a registered agent’s duties involves document delivery. 

Your registered agent will use either mail forwarding or online document-management systems to make sure that you get your mail and important documents quickly so that you can deal with issues as they arise. Some of the best registered agents also issue compliance alerts so that you’ll never forget to file an annual report. 

If you have a foreign limited liability company or corporation that conducts business in multiple states, you’ll be required to maintain a registered agent in each of those states. Your options are to either appoint multiple registered agents, or to hire a national registered agent service to cover all your registered agent needs. 

Sometimes a registered agent is called a resident agent or a statutory agent. So if you see either of these terms, just know that they’re old-fashioned terms for registered agents. 

What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent in North Dakota?

It’s possible that you read my explanation of a registered agent and decided to go establish a PO box for your company and check it at the end of each day, but this won’t work. 

Your registered agent must be physically present at your business office during regular business hours to receive mail and documents on your company’s behalf. And your registered agent must have a physical street address in North Dakota, which means a PO box address won’t be accepted. 

Besides all of that, there’s a lot that your registered agent can do for you! 


Many compliance deadlines (like annual reports) only come once a year, and they’re typically on the anniversary of the date your business was legally established. That makes them quite difficult to remember. But your registered agent will keep track of these dates for you. 

Your registered agent is your company’s point of contact, which makes them a sort of middleman between your business and various government agencies, like the Secretary of State. Because of that, your registered agent will remind you about compliance filing deadlines. 

The best registered agents provide compliance alerts so that you won’t miss any filing deadlines with the Secretary of State. 

Management of Important Documents

Choosing your business office in the state of North Dakota is a big deal. It’s where all your mail and documents will be sent, and they need to be sent to a reliable address because you’ll need them, obviously. 

Many of today’s leading registered agents provide online document-management systems, which are great because they scan and upload documents, mail, and service of process the same day they receive them and you can access them that day with an online account. 

It’s a lot faster than basic mail forwarding. And they also provide you with a place to store all your files, so you don’t have to fool with loads of bulky filing cabinets or figure out what to do with stacks of files and folders. 

Service of Process

It’s not easy to discuss registered agents without mentioning service of process. But many registered agent articles make it appear like you’ll receive service of process with the rest of your mail every day, and that isn’t the case.

A service of process is a notice that your company is being sued, which is not something that should be happening with any frequency. But if your company does get sued, it’s your registered agent’s job to receive service of process for your company. 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent in North Dakota?

Due to the Model Registered Agents Act, most registered agent requirements are the same in many states. In fact, North Dakota was the first state to adopt the Model Registered Agents Act. Here are a few of the requirements your registered agent needs to meet: 

  • State laws. North Dakota has laws specifically related to registered agents, so to make sure your registered agent dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s, you’ll need to read up on registered agent laws in the state of North Dakota. 
  • 18+. All registered agents in North Dakota must be at least 18 years of age. 
  • Physical address. Your registered agent must list a physical address as your business office. This means PO boxes aren’t permissible. 
  • Who you can designate. As long as they meet the requirements, you’re allowed to designate anyone you’d like as your registered agent. You can choose a friend, family member, employee, or lawyer. Make sure that whomever you choose is someone that’s trustworthy and dependable. 

What Happens If My Business Operates Without a Registered Agent?

In the unfortunate event that a process server arrives at your business office and finds that your registered agent isn’t there to accept service of process, they’ll deliver the legal notice to the Secretary of State instead. 

While this is business as usual for process servers, it could be catastrophic for your company. It means that now the Secretary of State has the notice that your company is getting sued, but you don’t, so you have no knowledge about the legal proceedings and can’t defend your company against them. And a judge could issue a default ruling in this instance. 

No business entity in the state of North Dakota can legally fail to maintain a registered agent. The Secretary of State could remove your company’s good-standing status for this infraction. Consequences include not qualifying for business loans, no longer having permission to expand to other states, and being forbidden from conducting business in North Dakota. 

A particularly annoying aspect of losing your good-standing status is also losing your company’s business name reservation with the Secretary of State. Once that’s nullified, other businesses can snatch it up. Of course, you could quickly fix this situation, but it’s possible that you’ll never get your business name back. 

If you own a domestic or foreign limited liability company, losing your business’s good-standing status can be particularly detrimental for you. Without a good-standing status, the Secretary of State could automatically dissolve your company through a process called “administrative dissolution,” which is initiated when a business fails to meet its legal requirements. 

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in North Dakota? 

Legally, there’s nothing holding you back from being your own registered agent, but before making a rush decision, you should learn about the pros and cons of being your own agent and find out how they compare to hiring a commercial registered agent service. 

Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent


One reason that many business owners choose to form a domestic or foreign limited liability company is to enjoy the benefits of separating their personal and business assets. But when you take on the role of registered agent for your company, that protection is on shaky ground. 

Missing a service of process or forgetting to file an annual report when you’re acting as your own registered agent in the state of North Dakota could put your company at risk of administrative dissolution at the hands of the Secretary of State, which does away with your limited liability protection. 

Without this protection, if a domestic or foreign limited liability company is sued, the owner is responsible for the company, which means your hard-earned cash and assets are at risk. 

You’re not safe if you don’t own an LLC, either. Every business entity in the state must continuously maintain a registered agent, so you can experience legal and financial blowback if you own a corporation, sole proprietorship, limited liability partnership, or other business entity. 

Lack of Privacy

One scary aspect of being your own registered agent is having your personal information listed on the public record. If you don’t have a business office in the state with a physical street address and you’re acting as your own agent, you’ll have to list your home address on the public record. 

Once it’s uploaded on the public record, it’s available to the public, for anyone, no matter how sinister, to see. Cybercriminals and hackers can steal your identity and commit any number of crimes with far less information than you’re required to list as a registered agent. 

The creepiest aspect of this is that everyone has access to your name, phone number, and home address, and the internet is full of cautionary tales that all started with the careless distribution of personal information. 


Once business owners are clued in about the vast amount of time that being a registered agent takes up, they decide against it—it’s a full-time job. You’re required by the Secretary of State to be physically present at your listed business office during normal business hours to receive mail and service of process. 

Many businesses also operate during normal business hours, which makes pulling double-duty as both a business owner and registered agent quite impossible. You simply can’t be in two places at once. 

Pros of Being Your Own Registered Agent

There’s really only one advantage to being your own registered agent: You won’t have to pay fees to a commercial registered agent service. 

But when you take into consideration all the risks associated with being your own registered agent and the time-consuming nature of the job, you may just find that it’s worth it to pay for the peace of mind that a commercial registered agent can provide. The good news is that they’re typically inexpensive. 

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

Business owners choose to hire a commercial registered agent service for a number of reasons: 

  • With compliance alerts, you won’t forget to file your annual report with the Secretary of State or miss other important filing deadlines. 
  • You’re not as likely to miss a service of process or fall out of good standing with the Secretary of State. 
  • You can more effectively manage your business because you won’t be stretched thin both running your business and acting as a registered agent. 
  • If you own a business that has expanded to operate in other states, you can use a national registered agent to fulfill your legal obligations nationwide. 
  • Owners of businesses that operate outside of normal business hours can use a registered agent and get some sleep when their businesses are closed for the day. 
  • If you’d prefer that the Secretary of State not list your personal information on the public record, a registered agent can help. They’ll list their information in place of your own. 
  • Your registered agent will even receive all of your company’s junk mail, sort through it, and dispose of it for you. 
  • Some registered agents provide premium services, like identity theft protection and payment of state fees, which you might want to take advantage of. 
  • If you don’t have your corporation or limited liability company registered with the Secretary of State yet, it’s a good idea to choose a registered agent service that also supplies business formation services. These registered agents often offer promotions, like a year of free registered agent service. 

No one can tell you whether you should use a registered agent service for your company except for you. But I will say that I always recommend new businesses use a registered agent service.

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?

Determining the best registered agent service is complicated due to the sheer number of companies on the market. Here are some of the things you should consider when it comes to choosing a registered agent service for your business: 

Service Features

You should never choose a registered agent that doesn’t provide all the services and features you need. 

Some registered agents offer compliance alerts for worry-free compliance so that you don’t forget important filing deadlines and land your company in legal trouble with the Secretary of State. Other registered agent companies will just supply you with a compliance calendar with filing deadlines listed, but these are easily forgotten. 

Some registered agents offer online document-management systems onto which they scan and upload your mail and service of process so that you can read them and be notified of any problems as they arise. Others only offer basic mail forwarding service, which is slow and inconvenient in comparison. 

Make sure you research your options and choose a registered agent that meets all the needs of your company. 


The measure of a good registered agent service can be determined by comparing both its service offerings and its price. A registered agent provider with little in terms of quality services and an expensive fee doesn’t provide much value. 

In your search for a good value, make sure to avoid “budget agents.” These are registered agents that promise start-up costs of only $39–$59, but when it comes to important services, like online document-management systems or compliance alerts, they tack on loads of additional fees that quickly add up. So, steer far away from budget agents. 

Easy Sign-Up 

It’s always annoying to feel like your time is being wasted, and that annoyance can be amplified during the formation process because it’s stressful enough as it is without extra hassle. 

Some registered agents require you to fill out mountains of forms and documents, and when you’re done with that it will still take weeks or even months to fully get through their sign-up process. 

Find a registered agent service that has a quick and easy sign-up process. 

User-Friendly Interface 

Dealing with a glitchy and complicated computer system can be incredibly stressful for everyone who has to use it—just ask anyone who’s ever worked multiple telemarketing jobs or customer service call centers. 

Some registered agents have systems with confusing layouts and complicated navigation systems, paired with antique servers and tons of bugs and glitches, which results in users having a difficult time learning how to use it, and the system constantly freezing and crashing to boot. 

Save yourself the frustration of dealing with one of these nightmare systems by choosing a registered agent with an easy-to-use interface. 

Customer Service 

Your registered agent is in charge of a lot of important tasks that could mean the difference between your company thriving or losing its good-standing status with the Secretary of State, so it’s important that it supplies outstanding customer service. 

I combined all of these factors with my four-stage investigative process to determine that Northwest Registered Agent is the best registered agent service. If you’d like to learn more about various registered agent services, or how to choose the right registered agent service for your business, read the Best Registered Agent Services


Starting a new business requires a lot of hard work. But the good news is that you won’t have to do it all yourself. A registered agent can take care of some of the workload for you and give you some peace of mind. 

If you haven’t chosen your business’s structure yet and would like to learn more about the LLC formation process, check out How to Start an LLC. And if you’d like the help of experienced professionals through the LLC formation process, read about the Best LLC Formation Services

North Dakota Registered Agent FAQs

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

A commercial registered agent is a registered agent that has filed a commercial registered agent listing with the Secretary of State. Some states require all registered agent services to register as commercial registered agent services. 

A noncommercial registered agent is a registered agent that hasn’t filed a commercial registered agent listing with the Secretary of State. 

According to the Secretary of State, a noncommercial registered agent may be any of the following: 

  • An individual residing in North Dakota
  • A domestic or foreign corporation registered with the Secretary of State with an office in the state and an address in North Dakota
  • A foreign or domestic limited liability company with a registered office in the state. 

So if you appoint your grandmother as your registered agent, her official designation is “noncommercial registered agent.” 

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

You can easily change your registered agent by filing a Commercial or Noncommercial Registered Agent Statement of Change form with the Secretary of State. You can submit your form to the Secretary of State by fax, mail, or in person, but there’s currently no online option. And there’s a $10 fee to file. 

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost? 

The cost of your registered agent is based on several factors, like which services your company needs and which registered agent company you choose. Generally speaking, registered agents can cost anywhere from $39–$299 per state, per year. If you want to learn more about registered agents and pricing, read the Best Registered Agent Services

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