Best North Carolina Registered Agent Services (2024 Rankings)

Best Registered Agent Services in North Carolina

We at the MarketWatch Guides team performed a detailed comparison of the top registered agent services in North Carolina. Comparing service offerings, cost, customer support and more, the list below can help you pick the right registered agent for your business.

How Much Does a North Carolina Registered Agent Cost?

Unless you serve as your own North Carolina registered agent, you’ll incur an annual fee for representation by a third party. The most reliable registered agent service providers usually charge between $119 and $249 per year. These fees do not include the additional costs of submitting LLC formation paperwork and other required documents to the state.

You may be able to save some money by signing up for a business formation package with a top provider like Bizee or Northwest Registered Agent. Each grants one year of free registered agent service for businesses that utilize the provider’s LLC formation package. Otherwise, Bizee charges $119 annually, and Northwest Registered Agent charges $125 annually for acting as your North Carolina registered agent. On the higher end of the range, companies like Swyft Filings cost more but provide extra benefits. Swyft Filings, for instance, charges $149 each quarter or $596 each year for services that include mail forwarding and compliance reminders.

As a new business owner, you’ll also need to take into account state-mandated fees for various business filings in North Carolina. Here’s a breakdown of some of the more common startup costs you could pay when forming a business or an LLC:

North Carolina Business Filing State Fee
Articles of Organization or Incorporation $125
Name Reservation $30
Transfer of Reserved Names $10
Articles of Amendment $50

What Is the Cheapest North Carolina Registered Agent LLC Service?

Choosing a cost-effective registered agent is crucial for many, especially small business owners on a tight budget. In North Carolina, our review found several potential options for the cheapest registered agent via LLC service providers.

Both IncSmart and North Carolina Registered Agent charge $49 annually. IncSmart also provides a discount if you pay for more than one year of registered agent service when you sign up. With each of these providers, you’ll receive the basic mail forwarding and registered office address as required under North Carolina law.

There may be some risk of choosing the absolute lowest-cost provider as your registered agent. For instance, some operate with hidden fees or extra charges that end up costing you more for basic features. This can include document scanning fees, add-ons like website domain registration and other items. In addition, reviews that speak to the company’s past experience can be hard to come by. For example, when reviewing the Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile of one of these low-cost companies, the agent has a single negative review from 2022. While these services could be reliable, it’s hard to say without user experiences. 

The services from our best-of list have more experience in the field. Many of them have been providing these services for years, evidenced by the higher number of user reviews. You also get more legal and customer support.

What Is a North Carolina Registered Agent?

The North Carolina Secretary of State website defines part of a registered agent’s role as serving as the represented business’s registered office. Under state law, an agent must forward “any notice, process, or demand (legal notices) to the last known address of the entity,” meaning the business. A North Carolina registered agent acts as the official point of contact for legal mail, including service of process which is official notification of court proceedings like a lawsuit against your business or a subpoena.

Every LLC or corporation formed in North Carolina is responsible for keeping its registered agent information up to date with state officials. In other states, the person or entity in this role is called a resident agent or statutory agent.

On initial formation documents, North Carolina businesses must list a principal office location (if one exists), ownership information, place of registered office and the registered agent’s location and mailing address. The registered office must be a street address in North Carolina and businesses may use a registered agent’s address in this field.

If your registered agent changes or moves its registered office address, you must update the secretary of state (SOS) within 60 days. Agents are also required to notify the North Carolina Secretary of State if they resign. If your agent resigns or you replace them, your business must designate a new registered agent within 60 days.

When a registered agent accepts official correspondence on behalf of your business, they will notify you. Registered agents typically scan and email or upload the documents to an online account for you to access. Some agents may mail you the paperwork for you to respond accordingly. Depending on your provider, some registered agents offer additional services like reminding you to file your business’s annual report.

North Carolina Registered Agent Requirements

Because a registered agent plays a critical role in business compliance, North Carolina law sets forth certain eligibility criteria. To serve as a registered agent in the state, an individual must:

  • Have a physical location referred to as the registered office in North Carolina (No P.O. boxes)
  • Be available to receive service of process during normal business hours
  • Be age 18 or older 

In North Carolina, you can be your own registered agent as long as you live in the state and your primary business location will be listed as your registered office. 

In addition, an in-state LLC, corporation or nonprofit already registered in North Carolina can serve as another entity’s registered agent. North Carolina permits foreign (out-of-state companies) to be listed as your registered agent as long as the agent’s registered office address matches its primary business location. In other words, the registered agent must have an office in the state.

How To Choose a North Carolina Registered Agent

If you’re a limited liability company needing someone trustworthy to manage received legal documents, you can compare providers to find a reliable registered agent. When sorting through the different options, here are some key considerations:

  • Compare service fees: The cheapest option may not be the best one for your business. As you compare providers, consider the overall value of extra services like compliance reminders. Find the highest quality service possible within your budget.
  • Read customer reviews: Evaluating a provider’s track record will help you find a North Carolina registered agent with a solid reputation. Look for reviews that highlight the agent’s reliability, experience and customer service.
  • Prioritize responsiveness: The speed at which a registered agent responds to questions or concerns can indicate how organized and quick they’ll be at handling legal notices and important documents. Prioritize agents who prioritize you, which is something else you can learn when checking customer reviews.
  • Pick a local agent: A local agent is someone familiar with North Carolina’s unique requirements. An office in Raleigh will likely get you someone who knows the local business environment.

How To Designate a North Carolina Registered Agent

It takes time and energy to research the best registered agent for your business but making the final appointment is relatively easy. In North Carolina, you’ll need your registered agent’s name, office address and mailing address before the state will approve your LLC or business formation.

Creating an online account to file necessary paperwork can save you time but state officials also process forms by mail or from in-person submission. The SOS offices also allow you to submit documents in person or via mail. You can get a copy of all business filing forms on the North Carolina Secretary of State website

Here are a list of common forms you need to designate or change an agent:

To submit forms BE-05 and -06, you’ll have to pay $5, whether submitting online, through the mail or in person. If submitting the articles of organization, you’ll need to pay $125, which includes the cost of filing a new business formation.

You can find the current mailing and street address of the North Carolina SOS by scrolling down to the bottom of the SOS site’s form page

When filling out these forms, be sure to have this information handy: 

  • Business name (exactly as it shows on your articles of organization) 
  • Street/mailing address of the registered office (address of registered agent)
  • The registered agent’s name 
  • The registered agent’s signature (as proof of consent)

It can take several days for the registered agent’s information to appear on the public record. You can search the business registration database on the SOS site to see if your assignment is active.

Types of Registered Agents in North Carolina

While you can serve as your own registered agent, hiring a professional will grant a higher level of privacy. Whether you sign up with a registered agent provider or delegate the role to an employee or friend, anyone serving in this position must meet North Carolina’s requirements. The state recognizes three types of registered agents:

  • An individual who resides in North Carolina
  • An in-state business or professional organization registered as a domestic entity
  • A foreign entity with a registered office and principal business location in North Carolina

In each case, North Carolina registered agents must be available to accept official documents during normal business hours.

Frequently Asked Questions About North Carolina Registered Agents

Yes, North Carolina requires a registered agent in order to operate a business in the state.

You can change your North Carolina registered agent through online submission, mail or in person. To make this change, fill out the Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent (BE-06) and submit it to the North Carolina Secretary of State. There’s a $5 fee.

You can be your own registered agent as long as you meet the requirements. These requirements include being available during regular business hours at a physical address to receive official mail and documents. Individuals serving as registered agents must be residents of North Carolina. Business entities must be registered with state officials and have a North Carolina office location or storefront.

A registered agent for an LLC is someone who receives and forwards legal notices and other important mail from the state or court. The agent is considered the official point of contact working on behalf of the business. However, the representative is not a mail clerk who handles other types of correspondence.

Your registered agent can be based at your business address in North Carolina. You can also use your registered agent’s office address as your own on business filings with the state. Businesses must keep the registered agent contact information up to date, including submitting any changes to the North Carolina Secretary of State within 60 days.

The Bottom Line

A reliable registered agent is punctual and responsive to provide same-day notifications when you receive official correspondence. While you can serve as your own registered agent in North Carolina, there are advantages to hiring a professional. Namely, if you own an out-of-state company or do business from home, you’ll want to substitute the registered agent’s address for your own on government documents. This offers greater privacy for business owners and ensures you stay compliant with North Carolina law.

The primary responsibility of a registered agent is to receive and forward official mail on behalf of the business. Having someone you can trust in this role is critical as you’ll often be expected to respond quickly to correspondence like legal notices or tax letters. As you compare providers, look for a registered agent service with a proven track record of success, positive customer reviews and affordable pricing. In many cases, you can find a registered agent offering assistance beyond mail forwarding, like providing ongoing legal advice. This can be invaluable for small businesses and new LLCs in North Carolina.

Other Local Registered Agent Resources


To provide consumers with objective and accurate information, our credentialed legal experts created a comprehensive rating system for Limited Liability Company (LLC) services. We researched five online LLC, registered agent and trademark registration services, including ZenBusiness, LegalZoom, Swyft Filings, Northwest Registered Agent and Bizee (formerly Incfile).

We conducted a survey in 2024 of 200 professionals who were currently using LLC services or had used LLC services within the past year. We analyzed the results of this survey to determine the following rating criteria:

  • Features (20%)
  • Value for Money (25%)
  • Customer Service (20%)
  • Usability (25%)
  • Reputation and Credibility (10%)

Visit the full LLC methodology page for more details on our rating system.

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