The requirements for a registered agent in West Virginia might seem simple on the surface, but in reality this role has some nuance involved. Rather than spending hours researching the rules and regulations yourself, we’ve created a guide to help you access this information easily.
Knowing exactly what is required from a registered agent is essential 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 West Virginia registered agent must keep on top of things in order for your company to stay compliant.
Below is a complete picture of the 4 best West Virginia registered agent services (which also provide LLC services) and what they offer. We will outline each option and make independent recommendations based on what you are looking for.
4 Top West Virginia Registered Agent Services & Description
A registered agent service is a company that specializes in being a registered agent for a wide variety of businesses across the country, bringing tons of expertise and a healthy dose of reliability to the role.
What’s great is that the personal addresses of home-based entrepreneurs remain private when you hire a professional registered agent service. There are quite a few of these companies out there, and most of them make it quite easy to enlist their services.
Registered agent services usually include some additional features, which vary depending on which company you choose. In general though, you’ll often see these services offer a compliance calendar to help you track your important filing deadlines, and you’ll always receive access to their helpful customer support teams.
Here are the 4 best registered agent services in West Virginia:
Northwest Registered Agent
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Great|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Excellent customer service|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Above average value|
Northwest Registered Agent: Northwest charges $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 $39 price tag ($125 per year will start on the second year)
One last note: if you do choose to use a business formation package from Northwest, you’ll pay their service fee plus the $100 West Virginia filing fee, creating a total cost of $139 for the first year.
- Solid pricing model – Northwest doesn’t have the lowest prices in the industry, but considering what you get, their registered agent service is a great bargain. They even have volume discounts available if you require service in multiple states, or prepay multiple years.
- 12 months registered agent service included with business formation packages – No matter which of their business formation packages you purchase, Northwest includes one full year of their top-shelf registered agent service.
- Personalized customer support – Northwest takes customer service to the next level. They refer to their representatives as “corporate guides,” and they have all the expertise necessary to walk you through each step of your company’s formation.
- 20+ years experience – So many companies in this industry were just formed within the last few years, but Northwest has already been around for decades. They’re here to stay.
- Cheaper options available – There are other companies that undercut Northwest’s pricing models for registered agent service, although they can’t quite match Northwest’s local scanning or great customer support.
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Excellent|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Friendly and socially conscious organization|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Above average value|
Zen Business: Zen Business has a lower $99 rate than Northwest offers, with an extra focus on making the process less stressful and an easier-to-use website. You’ll 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 we love best about Zen Business:
- 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’ll pay $39 plus West Virginia’s fee of $100 for the first year. After that, your annual cost will be $119 per year. It’s just $99 per year if you choose registered agent service only.
Zen Business Strengths
- Fantastic customer feedback – It’s difficult to find more than a small handful of negative reviews for Zen Business. The vast majority of their 4,700+ reviews are positive.
- Inexpensive LLC and corporation formations – Zen Business offers some of the lowest prices in the industry for business formation service, while still providing clients with a nice selection of features.
- Registered agent included with every package – Every Zen Business business formation customer receives one full year of registered agent service at no extra charge.
Zen Business Weaknesses
- While Zen Business does have solid pricing and great features, they are not quite the cheapest or the best registered agent service available, in our opinion.
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Excellent|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Offers free West Virginia registered agent service for one year|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Above average value|
Incfile: They are one of the most well-known LLC and registered agent services available, with rates that start at just $119 per year. Plus 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.
Here are some of our top loves for Incfile:
- The only service to 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
So in short, if you form your business with Incfile, you won’t owe anything except the $100 West Virginia filing fee for the first year.
- Free business formation offer – Incfile is the only company we’re aware of that offers a business formation service package for free. All you need to do is pay your state fee, and they’ll take care of the rest!
- Thousands of positive customer reviews – Incfile has one of the best customer feedback reputations in this industry. They have thousands of positive reviews, and very few negative reviews to be found.
- One year registered agent service included with formation packages – No matter which one of their formation packages you choose (even the free version), they’ll include 12 months of registered agent at no extra cost.
- Registered agent service feels like an afterthought – Incfile has a great offering for business formation service, but their registered agent service is less impressive. There are no additional features included, and the $119 price tag is reasonable but not impressive.
|BANG FOR YOUR BUCK||Fair|
|CLAIM TO FAME||Massive ad budget and brand|
|COMPARED TO OTHER SERVICES||Below average value|
LegalZoom: This is another very popular option that more-or-less does the same thing as the other services, but charges $299 per year. In our opinion, the affordable registered agent services above are far better deals and more than half the cost.
While 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)
- Lots of experience and high customer volume – Not many competitors can say that they’ve served millions of customers, but LegalZoom can. They have a ton of experience that gives them an advantage over most companies in this industry.
- Wide-reaching name recognition – LegalZoom advertises more than the vast majority of their competitors, which is part of why they’re so popular. Their brand power is unrivaled.
- Many other services available – Few companies offer as wide a variety of services as LegalZoom does. They provide personal services like wills and power of attorney, and of course they also have a vast array of business services as well.
- Mediocre customer reviews – LegalZoom has quite a few reviews available online, but they’re split relatively equally between positive and negative scores. Some of their competitors have nearly universal praise from their clients.
- High prices – LegalZoom’s registered agent service costs $299 per year. While there are a couple competing companies that charge more than that, there are dozens of services with lower price points.
- No registered agent included with LLC formations – Some competitors, like Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness, include a full year of registered agent service with any business formation package. LegalZoom does not.
What Is a West Virginia Registered Agent?
Every business entity in the state of West Virginia is required to have a registered agent. In fact, you will not be allowed to finish the formation process for your company until you designate your registered agent.
The most important aspect of this role is receiving document deliveries from the state government, then alerting your business of the delivery, before forwarding the documents to you. The role of the registered agent is so important because it establishes a point of contact for your business with the state, so that they have a reliable place to get in touch with an official representative of your company at any time.
Unlike some states, West Virginia does not provide a comprehensive (or even partial) list of all the registered agents currently serving in the state. You’ll have to do your own research to find the right agent for your business. Thankfully, that’s where this guide comes in.
Who Can Be a West Virginia Registered Agent?
A West Virginia registered agent is a person or business entity that has a physical address in the state. You or one of your co-owners can serve as your own registered agent, you can designate a friend or family member for this role, you can hire a lawyer or accountant as your agent, or you can hire an online business services company to provide registered agent service.
No matter who you choose to be your registered agent, they need to be physically present at the address provided to the state during all standard business hours. This person or entity does not need to have any prior experience being a registered agent, but it’s wise to choose a registered agent who is familiar with the serious responsibilities that come with this role.
There is no minimum age requirement on who can be a registered agent in the state of West Virginia. Chapter 31D, Article 5 of the West Virginia Code explains that a registered agent may be:
- “An individual who resides in this state and whose business office is identical with the registered office;
- A domestic corporation or domestic nonprofit corporation whose business office is identical with the registered office; or
- A foreign corporation or foreign nonprofit corporation authorized to transact business in this state whose business office is identical with the registered office.”
What Does a Registered Agent Do?
A registered agent performs several modest tasks that accumulate into a larger role of significant importance. They are essentially the liaison between your business and the state you are conducting business in.
First and foremost, a registered agent must act as the designated recipient of any tax or legal documents sent by the state of West Virginia. In the case of legal matters, the registered agent must be physically present to receive hand-delivered service of process (SOP) paperwork regarding legal action being taken against your company. After the handoff, the registered agent then needs to effectively report this delivery to your business, and forward the documents to you.
The registered agent and the business they represent should have a previously agreed-upon order of operations for the intake and delivery of these documents. For example, they should determine whether the documents will be delivered from the registered agent to the business via fax, mail, or email.
Ongoing West Virginia Business Compliance
The registered agent also typically helps ensure that your business remains current and compliant on all state-required ongoing maintenance filings. Each state has its own set of laws regarding which maintenance filings are required, which usually refers to annual reports and/or franchise tax payments. These rules are subject to change at any time, so the registered agent must stay up to date in order to ensure your business remains in good standing with the state, and avoids fines or a business dissolution.
All business entities operating in West Virginia are required to file annual reports with the Secretary of State. Regardless of entity type, this report is due by July 1 of each year, and it has a fee of $25. This form may be filed online, or you can fill out and mail the paper form (here’s the form for LLCs, and the form for corporations).
Your registered agent should be aware of the schedule and help you file your annual report in order to stay in good standing with the state.
What about small, West Virginia-only registered agent services?
As you’ve probably noticed, the registered agent services we’ve listed here serve businesses across the country. But if you Google “West Virginia Registered Agent,” you’ll probably see results for local services, too. These can be local entrepreneurs with a knack for clerical tasks, offices dedicated to serving businesses in their counties, or statewide companies.
On one hand, using a local service can have its advantages. Some will be cheaper than nationwide firms (but not always!). And each state has its own nuances for business compliance requirements—West Virginia included. A registered agent service that services West Virginia alone will have detailed knowledge about those requirements. Granted, most national services do a good job understanding local requirements. But they probably won’t give you the same “homegrown West Virginia” feeling as a local agent service.
That said, national businesses like Northwest Registered Agent and Zen Business give you streamlined solutions. Let’s say you’re using a local West Virginia-only registered agent service, but it’s time to add locations in Virginia. You could search for an additional agent that services Virginia businesses. But that’s going to require a lot of additional paperwork, including new receipts, new automatic payments, more emails…you get the idea. But if you’re using a national service, you can cut down the “new” paperwork and focus on what really matters: growing your business.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you, and there’s no “wrong” answer. The most important thing is that you appoint one so you can run a compliant West Virginia business.
What If I Want to Change My West Virginia Registered Agent?
While the role of the registered agent is vitally important for any American business entity, this role can always be changed, and there are different rules for how to change your agent depending on which state your business operates in.
In West Virginia, business entities can file an Application to Appoint or Change Process, Officers, and/or Addresses form. The form is the same regardless of entity type and has a $15 fee. You can file this form via fax, mail, in person, or online. Changes can also be made on the annual report that must be filed each year, if your changes coincide with the filing period.
For step-by-step instructions to change a registered agent in West Virginia, please check out our guide.
Need to start a business in West Virginia?
We’ve gone into a lot of detail about registered agents in this guide, but here’s the deal: appointing a registered agent is just one step in the much bigger process of starting a business. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all that goes into it, don’t panic. We’re here to help.
You can catch the full guide to start a West Virginia LLC, but here’s the fly-by version:
- Choose a business name: Every business in West Virginia needs a name that’s both catchy and gives potential clients a good idea what the business does. The name also needs to be unique—both for legal reasons and so your business stands out from the competition.
- Appoint your registered agent: Whether you elect to use a private registered agent, serve as your own, or you hire a service like the one we’ve listed here, you can’t skip this step. Without a registered agent, you won’t become a legitimate, registered entity.
- File your formation documents: If you’re forming an LLC, you’ll need to file the Articles of Organization; corporations file the Articles of Incorporation. Once you fill it out and file it, this document is what officially forms your business in the state. There is a $100 filing fee for both corporations and LLCs.
Beyond that, there are plenty of ongoing maintenance requirements. We won’t go into a ton of detail here, though. Your registered agent will help you keep tabs on most of those, but you can read more here.
West Virginia Business Fast-Facts
- Business Formation Speed: up to 5 weeks for standard filing; approximately 15 business days for expedited processing
- Cost to Form a Business: $100 for both LLCs and corporations (plus the service’s fee if you use one)
- How to Register: File the Articles of Organization (LLC) or Articles of Incorporation online or by mail ($1 convenience fee for online filings)
- Annual Reports: Due each year between January 1st and July 1st; costs $25 to file
- State General Business License: Not required, but industry licenses may apply
One of the biggest advantages of using one of the registered agent services we’ve listed is that they will help you handle most of these fast-facts! So with that in mind, let’s dig into the top registered agent services.
The role of a West Virginia registered agent is critical 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 you can always change your registered agent down the line, we think it’s essential to pick the right registered agent for your business starting at the formation phase. You should also keep an eye on your compliance standing to ensure nothing goes awry along the way.