Yes, you can be your Maryland Registered or Resident Agent, as long as you have a street address located in the state. Indeed, you may have discovered the term “registered agent” while filing documents to form or register your business in Maryland.
You may have also encountered synonyms such as “resident agent,” “statutory agent,” or “agent for service of process.” These terms all generally refer to the same thing. While you do have the option of being your own Resident Agent, you may not want to have your address listed on public records.
Have it in mind that any information you enter in your Articles of Organization becomes public record with the Department of Assessments and Taxation. Not only is this information searchable by the public, but it may also appear in Google searches.
A Maryland registered agent is more or less the legally designated point of contact for your business or non-profit. The registered agent receives important legal notices, such as service of process notice of a lawsuit), on behalf of your business.
Your Maryland Resident Agent is expected to have a physical location in Maryland and be available during all business hours. You need to choose a reliable Maryland registered agent that ensures you receive crucial documents in a timely manner.
Legally speaking, there is nothing stopping you from serving as your own registered agent, as long as your business was formed in the State of Maryland. For many small businesses, hiring a registered agent service just doesn’t make sense.
They have a regular storefront, keep normal business hours, only operate in their home state, and they aren’t concerned about their privacy. If that’s you, then you should do fine without a registered agent. While this could save you money over hiring a professional service, there are a number of factors to consider before making the decision.
Pros and Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent in Maryland
The reason a registered agent is required is that the state needs to have a reliable and consistent means of reaching every company’s ownership. This is indeed very important if your business is sued and you need to receive service of process documents, or if you need to complete any ongoing compliance requirements.
Nonetheless, while there are some advantages to doing so, there are also some significant disadvantages. Below are some of the pros and cons of serving as your own registered agent.
Agreeably, most registered agents aren’t that so expensive, but none are actually quite free. If you serve as your own registered agent, you can save $100 or more per year on business service provider fees.
If you’re already present at your place of business every day, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, and you don’t mind if your employees and/or customers see you receiving important legal documents, then it may be convenient to serve as your own registered agent.
Present During Business Hours
Have it in mind that if you serve as your own company’s registered agent, then you will need to be present at your place of business from 9 am to 5 pm every single weekday, with the only exception being federal holidays.
One of the biggest detriments of serving as your own registered agent is the risk of not being present when a document delivery is attempted. Even if you’re usually around during all standard business hours, if you step out for even a moment, you risk missing a crucial delivery.
Being Served at Work
If there is a lawsuit against your company, you will have to receive service of process documents. However, as your own registered agent, you will be served at your place of business, which may entail your employees or even customers seeing it happen. This situation is not ideal.
Losing Lawsuits by Default
Note that a potentially serious detriment that comes along with the possibility of missed deliveries is the chance that you may fail to receive service of process documents when you’re being sued. If you are never made aware of a lawsuit against you, you will be unable to defend yourself in court, which can have very serious consequences for your business.
Personal Address, Public Record
If you own a small business that operates out of your home, you will need to make your own home address a matter of public record. This can be a serious privacy issue for those concerned with keeping their home address private.
Also note that serving as your own registered agent will make it impossible to expand your business into multiple states since each state requires businesses to retain a registered agent with a local address.
Top Maryland Registered Agent Services & Description
Knowing exactly what is required from a registered agent is imperative to your business remaining in compliance with your state’s laws. Whether you take on this role yourself or outsource it to another person or business entity, the Maryland registered agent must keep on top of things in order for your company to stay compliant.
There are quite a few registered agent service companies out there, and most of them make it quite easy to enlist their services. Their services usually include some additional features, which vary depending on which company you choose.
You will often see these services offer a compliance calendar to help you track your important filing deadlines, and you will always receive access to their helpful customer support teams. Here are the top registered agent services in Maryland:
This company is known as one of the well-known LLC and registered agent services available, with rates that start at just $119 per year. They offer an awesome free LLC formation service if you haven’t created a business yet and would like a free registered agent service in the process.
- The offer free business formation services, including one free year of registered agent service
- Overwhelmingly positive customer feedback: a 4.8 satisfaction score across 13,500+ reviews
- Simply put, if you form your business with Incfile, you won’t owe anything except the $100/$120 Maryland filing fee for the first year.
This is another very popular option that does the same thing as the other services, but charges $299 per year. Even though LegalZoom isn’t the most affordable service, there are some perks:
- Largest business service network in the nation
- Offers comprehensive legal services, so they can be your one-stop shop for both business and personal legal needs
- Their basic business formation service is $79 plus state fees (a fair value)
Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest is known to charge $125 per year, and they’re the only major national registered agent service that locally scans every document they receive as your agent. They also have personalized customer support that assigns a dedicated account representative to each client. Here are some of the other top things to love about Northwest:
- Discount for $100 per year per business if you use them for more than 10 states, or you use them as the registered agent for more than 10 businesses
- Promises never to sell your personal data; stands by their Privacy by Default guarantee
- Offers one year of free registered agent service if you use their LLC formation service, which has a $225 price tag ($125 per year will start on the second year)
Zen Business has a cheaper $99 rate than Northwest offers, with an extra focus on making the process less stressful and an easier-to-use website. You will receive their outstanding customer support, as well as access to helpful software that allows you to track and file your company’s annual reports. In a nutshell, here are some of the things to know about Zen Business:
- The smaller company feel gives you more individualized attention than other companies
- Forming your business with Zen Business gives you registered agent service for $39 plus state fees for the first year (this annual package usually costs $119)
- Has one of the lowest à-la-carte registered agent prices of $99 per year
- If you use Zen Business to form your business, you will pay $39 plus Maryland’s fees of $100/$120 for the first year. After that, your annual cost will be $119 per year. It is just $99 per year if you choose registered agent service only.
The role of a Maryland registered agent is crucial to your company’s compliance and legal standing. This position requires dealing with seemingly simple tasks, yet if they’re handled incorrectly, they could cost you a considerable amount of money in fines, and could even potentially see the state dissolve your business.
While it is perfectly legal to serve as your own registered agent, it may not be the best choice for your Business. For the majority of businesses, there are more negatives than positives associated with serving as your own registered agent. It is generally only advisable for very small businesses and even then should be carefully considered.