A registered agent is the individual or business entity that receives legal documents from the state, and then forwards them to your business address. But why is this a requirement, and who should you designate as your registered agent in Iowa?
In this guide, we will break down all the details you need to know about Iowa registered agents.
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What is an Iowa Registered Agent?
One of the most common questions we receive from entrepreneurs in Iowa is why a registered agent is required to form an LLC or corporation. While it might seem like an unnecessary middle-man type of role, the registered agent fills a vital role.
The registered agent’s job is to provide a reliable way for the state to contact an official representative of your business at any time, which is especially important if your business is ever sued. If you didn’t have a registered agent, a lawsuit could progress through the courts without you even knowing about it, which is obviously far from ideal.While Iowa does not provide a recommended list of registered agent services, we reviewed the top options and compiled a list of the best Iowa registered agent services based on price and overall value.
Who Can Be an Iowa Registered Agent?
The Iowa Secretary of State requires that a registered agent can be either an individual residing in the state, a domestic corporation (either profit or nonprofit) that is currently in good standing with the state, or a foreign corporation (either profit or nonprofit) that is authorized to perform business in Iowa. If the registered agent’s office is intended to function as the business organizations registered office, the registered agent is required to have a physical street address rather than a PO box.
In select instances, the Iowa Secretary of State may act as a registered agent. To see a full explanation of scenarios where the Secretary of State may act as an agent for service of process, you should review the Iowa Code Provisions.
Aside from the legal requirements, an important aspect to discuss is who should be your registered agent. You have the right to declare yourself as your own registered agent, which has its pros and cons.
On the positive side, you can save some money by not paying anyone to serve as your agent, but you’ll also likely need to make your home address a matter of public record, which is not ideal. Additionally, you’ll need to be physically present at your business during all standard operating hours (9-5, M-F).
Some entrepreneurs like to have a friend or family member serve as their registered agent, but if that person doesn’t have experience in this position, they might not know what is expected of them. In addition, designating your lawyer or accountant as a registered agent can work, but these options are usually quite expensive.
Our preference is to hire a professional registered agent service, which provides a combination of convenience, affordability, and peace of mind that is unrivaled by any of these other options.
How Do Iowa Residents Get Served?
The most important part of a registered agent’s role is being served a summons.
In Indiana, the summons process when a lawsuit begins. This happens when a plaintiff files one of these appropriate claim forms along with the Original Notice and a $85.00 filing fee to the clerk.
If these steps are all taken correctly, the state of Iowa will prompt a sheriff, a specially appointed person, or other appropriate individual to serve a summons to the defendant’s registered agent. An additional fee for service is sometimes necessary.
How to Designate an Iowa Registered Agent
The answer to this question depends on what type of business you’re starting, but with either a corporation or an LLC, you’ll need to designate your registered agent when you form your company.
If you plan to form an LLC in the state of Iowa, you’ll be given the chance to designate your registered agent when you submit the Certificate of Organization. When forming a corporation in the state, you’ll list your business entity’s registered agent when you complete the Articles of Incorporation for Domestic Profit Corporations.
It should be noted that submitting either the Certificate of Organization or the Articles of Incorporation certifies that the registered agent has accepted the position and given permission to be listed.
How Can I Change My Iowa Registered Agent?
If you would like to change your registered agent for any reason, the process is pretty simple.
To change your registered agent, you only need to fill out one form: the Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent form. The document can be completed here as a PDF file, printed, and then mailed to the Business Services Division of the Iowa Secretary of State.
Conveniently, there is no fee to submit the form; changing your registered agent may be done free of charge.
How Does an Iowa Registered Agent Resign?
Sometimes, a registered agent may have to resign from their position.
In order to step down from their appointment, a resigning registered agent must complete a Statement of Resignation of Registered Agent, which asks for the business entity’s name, the principal office address, the registered office address, a statement of resignation and a confirmation that notice has been given to the business entity. To submit the resignation form to the Business Services Division there is no fee.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Iowa Registered Agent Service?
Hiring a professional registered agent is basically the best of both worlds between serving as your own agent, and designating a lawyer or accountant.
The biggest benefit in our opinion is the privacy protection this allows, as you will be able to keep your personal address private. There’s also a major advantage compared to having an attorney or accountant serve as your agent, namely the fact that registered agent services are almost always much cheaper.
Another reason we like this option is that these companies specialize in providing quality registered agent service. They know exactly what’s expected of them, and there are rarely any issues to speak of.
The other major benefit of hiring a registered agent service is that most of them operate in all 50 states, so that if you ever want to expand your business into another state, you won’t need to hire an additional registered agent. Your same registered agent will be able to provide the coverage you need in your new state, while still providing the same service in Iowa. If you hired a lawyer or accountant, they would only be able to help you expand to a new state if they have another physical office in that state.
You Stay Compliant
Finally, most professional registered agents operating in Iowa offer some sort of compliance calendar. With this service, your registered agent helps you keep track of due dates for ongoing LLC maintenance requirements like annual reports, which is a valuable bonus.
The top registered agent service providers include some other appealing attributes, including access to their extensive customer support networks. Some of them include a full year of registered agent service with any business formation package, which can be a real money-saver. Another welcome attribute is that some registered agent services provide volume discounts if you require service in multiple states, or if you prepay for multiple years.
What Is the Penalty for Not Designating a Registered Agent in Iowa?
You need to have a registered agent to form your limited liability company or corporation in Iowa in the first place, but if you let your registered agent service lapse, there could be some serious consequences.
Failure to maintain a registered agent could lead to your business losing its good standing with the state of Iowa, and the state also has the right to officially dissolve your LLC if they choose to.
Another issue would be the difficulty of being served if your business is sued. If the state cannot get ahold of your registered agent, a court may decide to go ahead with the lawsuit without your knowledge, which could even lead to a judgment against you. This can happen not just if you fail to designate a registered agent, but also if your agent is not present during business hours to accept the document delivery.
As you can see, the task of designating a registered agent for your Iowa business isn’t quite as easy as just writing down your own name.
There are significant downsides to just about every option in our opinion, but we recommend hiring a professional registered agent service because that option has the fewest disadvantages. They charge affordable rates, and you never have to worry about losing your good standing, having your LLC or corporation dissolved, or having a lawsuit proceed in your absence.
If you have any further questions, you can contact the Iowa Secretary of State:
Iowa Secretary of State
Business Services Division
Lucas Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319