Do You Need a Registered Agent in Virginia?


All business entities must maintain a registered agent in Virginia, according to Virginia law. But besides being a legal requirement, a Virginia registered agent is also quite a beneficial business service. 

Virginia registered agents are such an important part of the LLC formation process that it would be hard to complete it without one. (I’m not even sure you can properly complete formation documents without listing your registered agent information.) And when it comes to compliance, a registered agent is really handy. 

If you want to learn what a Virginia registered agent is, what it does, and why your Virginia business needs one, keep reading. 

What Is a Registered Agent in Virginia?

A Virginia registered agent is an individual or business entity who agrees to accept legal documents, official mail, and service of process on your business’s behalf at your registered office address during regular business hours. 

I know it seems convoluted at first to send your business’s mail and business documents to someone at a different address.. Enter the second half of registered agent duties: document delivery. Your registered agent will use either mail forwarding or an online document-management system to get your mail to you. And the best ones will use compliance alerts to keep you in the loop about upcoming filing deadlines. 

If you have a company that conducts business in multiple states, you’re legally required to maintain a registered agent in each of those states. This can be accomplished by designating a registered agent in each individual state or by hiring a national registered agent service to meet all your legal needs. 

A Virginia registered agent is sometimes called a statutory agent or resident agent. The latter two are older terms, but they all refer to the same service. 

What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent in Virginia?

Upon reading my definition of a Virginia registered agent, you may have wondered whether you could set up a PO box and check it once you got off work each day. But there are several reasons this plan won’t work. 

By law, a Virginia registered agent is required to be physically present at your registered office address during business hours. The keywords here are “physically present,” so you can’t just come to your PO box and check it for mail at your convenience. Also, your registered agent’s address is required to be a physical street address—further eliminating the option of using PO boxes. 

But there are a number of services your registered agent in Virginia can provide. 


Compliance filing deadlines are hard to remember because they only come once a year. Annual reports are typically due on the anniversary of your establishment date. But your Virginia registered agent will keep track of these dates for you. 

Your registered agent in Virginia is your business’s official point of contact. It functions as a sort of intermediary between government agencies and your company. Because of this, your registered agent will let you know the dates of filing deadlines. And if you choose a top-tier registered agent service, it will provide compliance alerts to keep you out of trouble with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. 

Management of Important Documents

Needing to have a physical address can be a real pain if you manage your business from home. But there’s a reason government agencies prioritize your Virginia registered office address. This is where your legal mail and documents are sent, and you need to keep these for your records. 

These days, many of the top registered agent services supply online document-management systems, which are incredibly helpful for record keeping. Your registered agent will scan your mail and documents, upload them, and allow you to access them using an online account on the same day they’re received. And, even better, you’re able to store your documents in the same system. Say “so long” to bulky filing cabinets and musty old storage rooms! 

Service of Process

Service of process is something that’s frequently discussed alongside registered agents, and for good reason. But many registered agent articles make it sound as though you’ll receive service of process along with your mail every day. And considering the fact that service of process is a formal notice of a lawsuit, you definitely shouldn’t receive service of process with any regularity. But if your company does get sued, it’s your registered agent’s job to accept service of process on behalf of your Virginia business. 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent in Virginia?

The requirements for registered agents are pretty much standardized nationwide. Here are some of the requirements for your registered agent in Virginia: 

  • State laws. To make sure your registered agent meets the requirements of a registered agent in Virginia, you’ll need to check out Virginia state laws. 
  • 18+. Every registered agent in Virginia is required to be at least 18 years of age. 
  • Physical address. Your registered agent’s address is required to be a street address in the state. PO boxes aren’t acceptable. 
  • Who you can designate. So long as they meet the requirements, you can designate anyone your heart desires as your registered agent in Virginia. This includes your lawyer, friend, employee, or family member. But be sure to choose someone that’s trustworthy! 

What Happens If My Business Operates Without a Registered Agent?

If a process server comes to deliver service of process during normal business hours and your Virginia registered agent isn’t present at your business address, the process server will deliver the service of process to the Virginia State Corporation Commission. This is a bad situation for your business. 

Because the service of process was never delivered to you, you won’t know about the lawsuit, so you can’t be present for the proceedings or defend your company in court. And the judge could issue a default judgment as a result. 

It’s illegal for any business entity not to maintain a registered agent in Virginia, so the State Corporation Commission could repeal your company’s good-standing status. This will mean your company won’t be able to expand to other states, qualify for business loans, or transact business in the state. 

One annoying aspect of losing your good-standing status is that you’ll also lose your business name reservation. In the meantime, other businesses can reserve your business name for their companies. You can restore your company’s good-standing status, but the reality is that if another company has reserved your business name, you may not get it back—ever. 

If you own a Virginia LLC, the loss of good-standing status will really take a toll on your business. Without good standing, the State Corporation Commission could initiate “administrative dissolution,” which is when a government agency automatically dissolves a limited liability company because it didn’t meet its legal requirements. 

Operate your Virginia LLC without the approval of the Virginia State Corporation Commission at your own peril. You won’t have the benefit of limited liability protection, so you’ll be taking on personal and financial responsibility for the company. If your company encounters legal problems, your hard-earned personal assets and money can be listed as compensation during the suit. 

Just because you don’t own a limited liability company doesn’t mean that you won’t feel the effects of failure to maintain a registered agent. If you own a business entity—corporation, sole proprietorship, or limited liability partnership—you can face repercussions for not continuously maintaining a registered agent in Virginia. 

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Virginia? 

You’re legally permitted to be your own registered agent in all 50 states. But before you make that choice, you should learn the pros and cons of being your own agent so you can compare them to hiring a professional registered agent service. 

Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent


One of the biggest downsides of being your own registered agent is the fallout of missing a service of process. You could lose your company’s good-standing status with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, or have a default judgment issued against it. 

Lack of Privacy

Another headache involved with being your own registered agent is listing your personal information on the public record. Without a physical business address, you’ll be forced to list your personal address on the public record. 

Unfortunately, you can’t control who can access your information once it’s listed on the public record. Hackers and cybercriminals can access it and use it to steal your identity, wipe out your bank account, destroy your credit score, or commit other crimes in your name. 

And there’s something that’s fundamentally disturbing about knowing that everyone can not only get their hands on your home address and phone number, but use them however they see fit. 


The final straw for most business owners that puts the kibosh on being their own registered agent is the fact that it’s a full-time job. You’re legally required to be present at your principal address during normal business hours to receive legal documents and mail for your business. 

Coincidentally, your business is also likely to be open during normal business hours. Because of this scheduling conflict, it’s nearly impossible to adequately perform both jobs at the same time. That is, unless you’ve befriended a wizard or something that allows you to be in two places at once. 

Pros of Being Your Own Registered Agent

The sole benefit of being your own registered agent is that you won’t have to pay a Virginia registered agent service. 

But now that you’re aware of the repercussions of missing service of process or other official correspondence, as well as the time constraints involved with being your own agent, you might decide that it’s worth it to pay for the peace of mind that comes with hiring a Virginia registered agent service. Besides, registered agent services typically aren’t expensive. 

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

Here are a few of the reasons that a business owner might use a Virginia registered agent service. 

  • If you choose one of the best registered agent services then you’ll get compliance alerts to remind you to file your annual report, avoiding the wrath of the State Corporation Commission. 
  • With a professional registered agent service, your Virginia registered agent is guaranteed to be at your business address during regular business hours, so you won’t miss important legal notices. 
  • Because you’re not worn thin working double duty as both a registered agent and business owner, you’re free to efficiently manage your business. 
  • If you have a business that operates in multiple states, you can benefit from a national registered agent service, which prevents you from hiring multiple registered agents in different states to meet your legal needs. 
  • If your business doesn’t operate during what other people consider “normal business hours,” a Virginia registered agent service can prevent you from having to work as a registered agent during your off hours. 
  • If you own a business without a physical address, you can use a registered agent service to prevent your personal information from being listed on the public record.
  • You may not be aware of the vast amount of junk mail that’s sent to businesses, and if you choose to be your own registered agent then you’ll have to sort it and throw it out on your own. A registered agent service will handle this task for you, which eliminates a lot of hassle. 
  • You have the option to choose a registered agent company that offers premium registered agent services, like identity theft insurance or payment of state fees.
  • If you have yet to officially establish your business, here’s your chance to select a registered agent service that also provides business formation services. Some of these companies run promotions that you won’t want to miss, like a year of free registered agent service. 

At the end of the day, no one can tell you whether using a registered agent service is the right decision for your business. As the business owner, you’re the only one that can make that call. But I always recommend that new businesses use a registered agent service. 

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?

Choosing the best registered agent service involves a number of factors. Here are some of the things you should look into when choosing your company’s registered agent: 

Service Features

It does no one any good to use a Virginia registered agent that doesn’t supply the services you need. 

Some registered agent providers offer online document-management systems, and scan and upload your mail and documents the day they’re received while also providing you with a place to electronically store your files. Other registered agent companies only provide basic mail forwarding, which is only as fast as snail mail allows. 

Some registered agent companies send out compliance alerts to let you know about important filing deadlines with the Virginia State Corporation Commission before they pass, and other registered agent providers only give you a compliance calendar that you can chuck into the back of a drawer and forget about. 

Make sure you choose a registered agent that supplies all of the services you need. 


One of the best ways to make sure you’ve found a registered agent that provides good value is to compare its service catalog to its fee. If it has a long list of quality services and a low price, then you’ve likely found a registered agent that’s a good value for the money. 

In your search for a valuable registered agent, avoid “budget agents.” These registered agent companies advertise fees of $39–$59, but then they charge a ridiculous amount of additional fees for things you need, like online document-management systems or compliance alerts. So while their fees may seem attractive, they’re ultimately not worth it. 

Easy Sign-Up 

When it comes to the sign-up process of some Virginia registered agents, it’s anything but straightforward. They require you to fill out loads of paperwork and even when you’re through with all of that, the process can take weeks or months to complete. Choose a Virginia registered agent with a simple and quick sign-up process. 

User-Friendly Interface 

You’ll use your registered agent’s system frequently, so it’s important for it to be easy to use. Some registered agent companies have outdated servers, user interfaces that are a complete nightmare to navigate, and heaps of glitches and bugs that make it crash at every turn. Because of this, it’s important that you choose a registered agent with a user-friendly interface. 

Customer Service 

Regardless of which registered agent service you choose, you’ll inevitably encounter technical problems or have a question about your service that requires urgent answers. And since your registered agent is in charge of so many critical duties, great customer service is critical. 

I used these factors, as well as my four-stage investigative process to determine the best registered agent service: Northwest Registered Agent. If you’d like to learn more about how to choose the right registered agent service for your company, check out my guide on the Best Registered Agent Services


Not only do new business owners have a massive amount of work to do, they also have tons of new things to learn about successfully running their business. And to top it all off, they’re responsible for meeting compliance filing deadlines each year. But registered agent services can take a lot of the work and stress out of business ownership. 

If you haven’t decided on a business structure and you’d like to learn more about LLC formation, read my guide on How to Start an LLC. And if you might benefit from a bit of guidance during the formation process, read the Best LLC Formation Services.

Virginia Registered Agent Service FAQs

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

A commercial registered agent is one who has registered itself as a commercial registered agent service with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Some states require all professional registered agents to register as commercial registered agents. 

A noncommercial registered agent is one that hasn’t registered as a commercial registered agent, whether it’s a person or business entity. So if you’ve designated a family member, such as your Great Aunt Agnes as your registered agent, then Agnes is officially a noncommercial registered agent. 

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

Changing your registered agent in Virginia is simple. You’ll need to file a Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent form. The paperwork will ask for various registered agent information, like your new registered agent’s name and address. 

You can’t download the form online, but instead have to pick a paper copy up in person or request one by mail if you want to go that route. But by far the easiest way to file it is online. Once you’ve completed it, submit it. There’s no state fees. 

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost? 

Your registered agent cost is based on several factors, like which registered agent provider you choose and which registered agent services you need. Generally speaking, it costs between $39–$299 per state, per year (plus state fees) for registered agent service. If you’d like to learn more about registered agent pricing, read my guide on the Best Registered Agent Services

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