A Registered Agent in North Carolina provides various services, such as accepting formal documents, communications and correspondence from the NC Secretary of State.
Your corporation must have a North Carolina Registered Agent at all times. You appoint one when you first start your business. You can also replace your existing service of process agent after formation, provided there is no period during which your business is without a Registered Agent.
The address for your Registered Agent in North Carolina doesn't need to be the same as your business address. In fact, you can use a North Carolina virtual mailbox for your business address.
Important: A virtual mailbox is not a replacement for a Registered Agent. They perform two separate functions and per NC corporation law, you are required to have a Registered Agent.
What North Carolina Registered Agents Do
A Registered Agent’s primary function is to accept official documentation and correspondence, including but not limited to:
- Service of process notices (e.g., if your corporation is sued or required to appear in court)
- State and federal government correspondence and notices
- Correspondence from the NC Secretary of State
- Tax forms and requests to complete permits, company filings and reports
Having a Registered Agent also allows you to prove to the state that your business exists.
Incfile Provides Free North Carolina Registered Agent Services for the First Year
Incfile provides complete North Carolina Registered Agent services for any corporation formed in the state. Even better, if you form your corporation through Incfile, your Registered Agent is completely free for the first year and only $119 a year after that.
Incfile is authorized to conduct business in North Carolina and able to legally act as your Registered Agent. Here’s what our North Carolina Registered Agent services include:
Appointing a Registered Agent for Your Corporation
When you're forming a North Carolina State corporation, you must appoint a Registered Agent at that time. You can change the agent at any time after that. Here’s how.
Assign a Registered Agent When You Form Your Corporation
Your business needs to have a Registered Agent as soon as it’s formed. You can do this two ways:
When you create your business, you must include your Registered Agent's information in your Articles of Incorporation.
If you form your business through us, you’ll get our Registered Agent service free for one year. We’ll use the information you provide to complete and file your Articles of Incorporation for you.
Assign a New Registered Agent After Incorporation
Someone else may be assigned as your new Registered Agent in North Carolina after you’ve incorporated. There are a couple of ways to do this.
Once you’ve chosen a new Registered Agent, you can update the information by filing a Statement of Change form available on the Secretary of State website. A service fee of $5 is also due at this time.
When you use our Registered Agent service, we take care of all the form filling and filing for you. We’ll collect the pertinent information about your business, complete the form and send it to the NC Secretary of State on your behalf. We’ll notify you when we officially become your Registered Agent.
NC Registered Agent Search
In some situations, you may need to know the name of the Registered Agent that represents other NC corporations. You'll find this information in the state's service of process database.
If you can’t find the Registered Agent information there, you can request it from the Secretary of State.
What Happens If You Don’t Have a Registered Agent?
If you don’t assign or provide a Registered Agent's details to the Secretary of State, you may be subject to certain ramifications, including but not limited to:
- Losing your status as a corporation in the state. A Registered Agent is evidence to the state that your business exists. Without it, you could lose your business entity protections and your corporation may be dissolved.
- Getting sued or served and not knowing about it. You could lose to a default judgment in your absence if your corporation is sued and you don’t respond.
- Falling out of good standing with the NC Secretary of State. The state may revoke your right to do business if you don’t respond to certain correspondence (such as a request for your annual report).
Acting as Your Own Registered Agent
You may be the Registered Agent for your North Carolina corporation if you have a business office in the state. However, there can be some drawbacks to this approach:
- The Registered Agent must have a physical street address in North Carolina. If you’re forming a corporation outside the state, you’ll need to use an in-state Registered Agent.
- Someone must always be present during business hours at the North Carolina address to sign for important documents.
- The Registered Agent’s name and address are part of the public record and available through the NC Secretary of State website. If you prefer to keep this information private, you should use a Registered Agent service.
- If you change your business address or move out of state, you need to file additional documentation with the Secretary of State for the new address. This won't be necessary if you use a Registered Agent service, making a move or address change much easier.
Other Useful Resources
FAQs About North Carolina Registered Agents
Yes. All business entities are required to have a service of process agent (Registered Agent). This is mandated by the North Carolina SOS. You'll find more information above.
You must assign a Registered Agent when you form your business with the Secretary of State. You can change your agent afterward by filing the correct form. If you form your business through Incfile, we’ll file all the necessary forms on your behalf. You'll find more information above.
Yes, but we don’t recommend it for the reasons listed above.
Yes. And if you use a company as your Registered Agent, that company must be legally able to conduct business in the state. You'll find more information above.