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 New Hampshire?
In this guide, we will break down all the details you need to know about New Hampshire registered agents.
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What is a New Hampshire Registered Agent?
One of the most common questions we receive from entrepreneurs in New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire does not provide a recommended list of registered agent services, we reviewed the top options and compiled a list of the best New Hampshire registered agent services based on price and overall value.
Who Can Be a New Hampshire Registered Agent?
As dictated by the New Hampshire Department of State, all registered agents must reside in New Hampshire and have a physical street address in the state, should in-hand service be necessary. If you fail to list a physical street address when you designate your registered agent, the application will not be processed.
In New Hampshire, a registered agent may be either an individual or a business entity that is in good standing with the state and authorized to conduct business in New Hampshire.
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 New Hampshire Residents Get Served?
The most important part of a registered agent’s role is being served a summons.
In New Hampshire, in order for a summons to be processed a plaintiff must first open a lawsuit against the defendant. This requires filing a claim form (which can be found at the Clerk’s office) in the district court where the defendant’s registered agent is located. When the plaintiff files all necessary documents and a $60.00 filing fee to the clerk, the clerk will proceed to process a summons.
If these steps are all taken correctly, the state of New Hampshire will then allow a sheriff or sheriff’s deputy to serve a summons to the defendant’s registered agent.
How to Designate a New Hampshire 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.
For those establishing LLCs, you’ll be prompted to designate your registered agent in the third article of the Certificate of Formation of a New Hampshire Limited Liability Company document. Alternatively, if you are forming a corporation, then you’ll be required to list your registered agent in the Articles of Incorporation for New Hampshire Corporations in the document’s third article. Neither document may be processed without listing the registered agent’s name and physical street address.
How Can I Change My New Hampshire Registered Agent?
If you would like to change your registered agent for any reason, the process is pretty simple.
Those wishing to change their registered agent in New Hampshire may do so by completing and submitting the Statement of Change of Registered Office or Registered Agent or Both (Form 10). The document can be printed and completed using this PDF file, or it may be completed online using New Hampshire’s digital filing system, NH Quickstart.
Whether you file online or by paper, submitting the Statement of Change of Registered Office or Registered Agent will incur a standard processing fee of $15.00. However, should you choose to change your registered agent during the Annual Report filing period (between January 1st and April 1st) then the fee is waived.
How Does a New Hampshire Registered Agent Resign?
Sometimes, a registered agent may have to resign from their position.
In New Hampshire, there is no official form for registered agents wishing to resign. Instead, the resigning agent is required to draft and submit a Statement of Resignation of Registered Agent to the New Hampshire Department of State, Corporation Division. The document should include the name of the business entity, the business entity’s address, the name of the resigning agent, a brief statement declaring the resignation, and the resigning agent’s signature. There is no fee to resign in New Hampshire.
Why Should You Hire a Professional New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire. 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 New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire?
You need to have a registered agent to form your limited liability company or corporation in New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire, 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 New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire Secretary of State:
New Hampshire Department of State
State House Annex
3rd Floor, Rm 317, 25 Capitol St
Concord, New Hampshire