Do You Need a Registered Agent in Pennsylvania?


Maintaining a Pennsylvania registered agent isn’t just a mandatory legal requirement for every business entity in the state, it’s also a practical business solution. 

Registered agents are a substantial part of the formation process. They also come in handy by issuing compliance notifications to keep you apprised of important deadlines with the Pennsylvania Department of State. 

Keep reading and I’ll explain what a registered agent is, what it does, and why you need one for your business. 

What Is a Registered Agent in Pennsylvania?

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

Sending your service of process and legal documents to someone else at a different address may seem silly to you, but the other part of registered agent services includes document delivery. Registered agents use either mail forwarding or online document management systems to get your mail to you. 

Additionally, if you own a foreign corporation or entity that conducts business in multiple states, you’ll have to maintain a registered agent in each of those states. You have two options when it comes to meeting your legal obligations: designate a different person at each location as your registered agent or hire a national registered agent, which is one company that can meet the overall compliance obligations of your company, everywhere. 

Occasionally a registered agent in Pennsylvania is referred to as a statutory agent, resident agent, or commercial registered office provider. All of these terms describe the same type of business service. 

What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent in Pennsylvania?

After reading the definition of a registered agent in Pennsylvania or commercial registered office provider, you’re likely cooking up a plot to set up a PO box. That won’t cut it, and here’s why: 

Your Pennsylvania registered agent or commercial registered office provider is required to actually be present at your registered office address during normal business hours—your physical address that you’ve registered as your business address. So, a PO box won’t work because you’re not going to be physically present at an actual street address.  

Your registered agent service or commercial registered office provider can do a lot more than just accept legal mail and service of process or provide a registered office address.


It’s hard to remember compliance deadlines because they only come once a year, usually on the anniversary of your business’s establishment. But your registered agent can keep track of such things. 

Your Pennsylvania registered agent or commercial registered office provider acts as a middleman between you and various government agencies (like the Pennsylvania Department of State and the IRS), and because of that they send you compliance alerts to inform you about upcoming filing deadlines. This prevents you from missing a filing deadline and losing your company’s good-standing status. 

Management of Important Documents

For business owners who don’t have a physical location or physical office for their company, the physical address specification may be a pain. But your registered office address is important for reasons beyond government regulations. 

Your registered office address is where your mail, legal notices, service of process, and legal documents are sent. These days many registered agents and commercial registered office providers offer online document management systems into which they scan and upload your mail and documents on the day they’re received, and you can access them using your online account. 

This method is drastically faster than mail forwarding, which relies on the postal system and can be quite slow. Furthermore, you can use this online account to store your legal documents virtually, which means you won’t have to keep massive storage rooms for all of your files. 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent in Pennsylvania?

Some of the registered agent requirements are the same across the board in every state. Here are some of the criteria your registered agent needs to meet: 

  • State laws. Some states have developed laws that outline requirements for registered agents. To ensure that you choose someone that is legally eligible to be your registered agent or commercial registered office provider, you should check the regulations on registered agents in Pennsylvania. 
  • 18+. Your registered agent is required to be at least 18 years of age. 
  • Physical address. Every registered agent or commercial registered office provider is required to use a physical street address as your registered agent’s address or business address. PO boxes aren’t allowed. 
  • Who you can designate. You’re allowed to designate anyone you want as your registered agent as long as they meet the legal requirements for a registered agent. You can designate your lawyer, a friend, family member, employee, or anyone you choose as your registered agent. But choose someone whom you can trust with the life of your business. 

What Happens If My Business Operates Without a Registered Agent?

If no one is present at your business address to receive service of process, the process server will deliver the service of process to the Department of State. That may seem like no big deal, but it means that rather than you having your important legal notifications, a government agency does, so you’re completely unaware of the legal actions being taken against your company. 

Without knowledge of the legal action, you can’t be present at the proceedings or defend your company against them. And a judge could issue a default judgment against your company that you’ll have to abide by—no matter how unfair you feel it is. 

It’s not legal for your business to lapse on maintaining a Pennsylvania registered agent or Pennsylvania registered office provider, so the PA Department of State’s Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations can remove your good-standing status as a result. 

This is bad news. It means your company may no longer have permission to expand to other states, may not qualify for business loans, and may be completely banned from conducting business in Pennsylvania. 

In losing your good-standing status, you may even relinquish your business name reservation. As a result, other companies are free to take your business name and use it for themselves. The most alarming part of this is that even if you’re able to clear this legal situation up quickly, there’s a chance that you’ll never get your business name back. 

If you own a limited liability company, you’ll find that you’re uniquely affected by the loss of your good-standing status. The Department of State could move for the “administrative dissolution” of your company, which means they can dissolve your company for not meeting its legal requirements. 

Once your company is no longer legally recognized and established, your LLC doesn’t benefit from liability protection. If your company is sued, the business owner (you) becomes both personally and financially responsible for the company, and their (your) personal assets and money can be listed as compensation. 

If you’re thinking you’re safe because you don’t own an LLC, think again! Many of these repercussions also affect corporations, sole proprietorships, or limited liability partnerships, as well. 

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Pennsylvania? 

No state in the US prevents you from being your own registered agent. But before you take that leap, you should know the pros and cons of being your own registered agent and weigh them against hiring a Pennsylvania registered agent service. 

Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent


One of the things that turns many people off from being their own registered agent service is that if you’re not extremely vigilant, or if you’re not particularly good at the job, you could miss a service of process and that could have catastrophic consequences for your business. You could lose your company’s good-standing status or have a default judgment issued against you.

Lack of Privacy

If you choose to be your own registered agent, your personal information (like your name, home or office address, and phone number) will be listed on the public record. If you’ve used your own address because your business doesn’t have a street address, this could be problematic. Cybercriminals and hackers will have access to your information, and once they get hold of it they can use it to steal your identity or commit other crimes. 

Plus, there’s something a little scary about just anyone being able to find your home address and phone number. 


Most business owners opt out of being their own agent once they figure out that it’s a full-time job that takes up lots of time. You’re required to be at your company’s listed street address during business hours, 9–5, Monday–Friday. Most businesses also operate during those time frames, which makes it close to impossible to effectively manage a company and perform registered agent duties. 

Pros of Being Your Own Registered Agent

The one bright side of being your own registered agent is that you won’t have to pay a Pennsylvania registered agent service. But when you think of the risks involved with being your own registered agent, and the time constraints it causes, you may just decide that it’s worth it to pay for registered agent services for the reduced workload and peace of mind. 

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

Here are the reasons business owners decide to use a registered agent service: 

  • Because registered agents issue compliance notifications, you won’t have to worry about missing a compliance deadline and dealing with loads of legal problems as a result.
  • You won’t miss a service of process because your registered agent will be stationed at your business address during business hours to receive service of process on your behalf. 
  • Because you aren’t working two full-time jobs as both a business manager and a registered agent, you’re able to run your business more effectively, and with a little less stress. 
  • If you have a company that does business in more than one state, you can use a national registered agent service. Choosing a national registered agent service means you can use one business to cover all your legal needs, rather than multiple agents spread across multiple states. 
  • Businesses that don’t observe normal business hours (dance halls, arcades, comedy clubs) could use a registered agent service and take advantage of the free time to get some well-deserved sleep.
  • If your business doesn’t have a physical location or address, you can use a registered agent service to avoid listing your personal information on the public record. You can list your registered agent’s information instead of your home or office address.
  • Your registered agent can deal with the annoying amount of junk mail that’s sent to your business on a daily basis. 
  • You can choose a registered agent service that supplies premium services, like specialty types of insurance or payment of any state fees you’re charged for switching. 
  • If you haven’t formally established your business yet, you can choose a registered agent service that also supplies formation services. Some of them offer nice promotions, like a year of free registered agent service. 

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?

There are several aspects to take into account when you’re trying to identify the best registered agent service. Here’s how you can choose the best Pennsylvania registered agent for your company:

Service Features

I’ll put this simply: Don’t choose a Pennsylvania registered agent that doesn’t supply the registered agent services that you want for your business. 

Some registered agent providers only offer basic mail forwarding, which is painfully slow, while others supply online document management systems that allow you to view your important legal documents in a timely manner and conveniently store them all online. 

Some registered agent companies only give you a compliance calendar with important compliance filing dates for things like annual reports, which you can easily forget about, while other registered agent companies send out compliance alerts to make sure you don’t miss important deadlines. 

So pick a registered agent in Pennsylvania that does everything you need. 


One of the best ways to determine the quality of a Pennsylvania registered agent service is to compare its registered agent services and its cost. If a Pennsylvania registered agent service has a wide variety of services as well as a low fee, then it’s likely that you’ve found a company that provides a good value for the money. 

While I have your attention concerning value, I want to warn you to stay away from “budget agents.” These sneaky Pennsylvania registered agents lure in new customers with the promise of low prices ($39–$59), and then tack on mountains of additional fees for things you need, like online document management systems or compliance alerts.

Easy Sign-Up 

There’s nothing more frustrating than assuming you’re partnering with a business that’s going to improve your quality of life as a business owner only to find that they waste your time. Some Pennsylvania registered agents make you fill out heaps of paperwork and sometimes take months to complete. Instead, choose a Pennsylvania registered agent with a quick, painless sign-up process. 

User-Friendly Interface 

Have you ever used a computer system that was overly complicated, difficult to navigate, and constantly locked up at the most inconvenient times? Some Pennsylvania registered agents have ancient servers and convoluted navigation systems. You should choose a Pennsylvania registered agent with a simple system. 

Customer Service 

You could choose a Pennsylvania registered agent with a speedy, stress-free sign-up process, an intuitive user interface, and a padded list of registered agent services but still inevitably have a burning question that requires an answer or encounter a technological glitch that you need help with. 

And because your Pennsylvania registered agent is in charge of critical tasks that could result in the closure of your business, it’s pretty obvious why customer service is imperative. 

I considered all of these factors and the findings of my four-stage research process to choose Northwest Registered Agent as the best registered agent service. If you’d like to learn more about registered agent service or how to choose your company’s registered agent, read my guide on the Best Registered Agent Services.


Most business owners are bombarded with massive amounts of new information when they first establish their businesses. They have to learn everything from state laws and regulations for business entities to business and legal terminology, how to use various types of equipment and software, and even the details of new business management techniques. Luckily, Pennsylvania registered agent services can take some of the sting out of starting a new business. 

If you’re still deciding on a business structure and want to learn more about LLC formation, check out my article on How to Start an LLC. And if you want the added protection of expert guidance through the red tape and legal issues throughout the formation process, check out the Best LLC Formation Services.

Pennsylvania Registered Agent FAQs

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

The difference between a commercial registered agent and a noncommercial agent is generally pretty simple, except in a state where they refer to registered agents as commercial registered office providers. Essentially, a commercial registered agent is a professional registered agent service that has registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State as a commercial registered agent. Some states require all professional registered agent services to sign up as commercial registered agents. 

Noncommercial registered agents are any individual or business entity that’s been designated as a registered agent in Pennsylvania and agreed to accept service of process on behalf of your business but hasn’t registered as a commercial registered agent with the PA Department of State. So if you’ve designated a family member as your Pennsylvania registered agent, then their official job title is “noncommercial registered agent.” 

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

It’s easy to change your registered agent in Pennsylvania. Just fill out a Change of Registered Office form, complete with information about your new registered agent (like your registered agent’s name and address), then submit it to the Pennsylvania Department of State Corporations and Charitable Organizations with a payment of $5 to cover the filing fee. 

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost? 

The cost of a Pennsylvania registered agent service is based on a number of things, like which registered agent service company you choose and which services you need. In general, a registered agent service could cost anywhere from $39–$299 per state, per year. That range varies widely! If you’d like to learn more about the pricing practices employed by registered agent services, read my guide to the Best Registered Agent Services

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