What Is A Registered Agent?

Registered agent definition: A registered agent is a person or company that receives legal documents and state communications on behalf of an LLC or corporation. States typically require registered agents to reside in the state where they serve. Registered agents also agree to be available during business hours for service of process. Generally, LLCs and corporations must maintain a registered agent in each state or jurisdiction where they do business.

Everything You Need to Know About Registered Agents

Read this guide to learn about registered agents (and why states require them).

When you’re finished, be sure to read our Registered Agent Requirements by State page to ensure your compliant in your state.

And for an even deeper dive into registered agent regulations, read this guide on the Model Registered Agent Act to learn how it might affect your LLC.

Why Do States Require Registered Agents?

States require LLCs and corporations to maintain a registered agent in each state they do business for three reasons:
• So the state can ensure a point of contact with that company.
• So the public can establish a point of contact with that company.
• To guarantee service of process in the event of legal action.

What Is Service of Process?

Service of process definition: Service of process is the formal system through which one party to a lawsuit informs the other they are taking legal action against them. Specific requirements vary by jurisdiction, but when someone sues an LLC or corporation, service of process is to their registered agent address. “You’ve been served!”

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

Yes, you can be your own registered agent! Many small businesses operating in only one state do serve as their own LLC. There are pros and cons to serving as your own registered agent

Being your own registered agent PROS
• It’s free and legal as long as you are a resident in the state where your business is registered.

Being your own registered agent CONS

• You give up privacy because the address of the registered agent is public information and must be physical. If you’re working out of your home, this means putting your home address on public documents.
• If you expand out of state this cost saving measure becomes irrelevant because you’ll need to hire an agent in each state where you do business.
• A registered agent must be available at the registered agent address during all business hours, which is restrictive, especially if you are on the go or value your freedom.

Why Would I Hire a Registered Agent Service?

Even the smallest business owners often opt to hire a commercial registered agent for their company. There’s several good reasons to do so.

• The registered agent address creates a barrier between you and the general public, helping to maintain your personal privacy.
• Good commercial registered agents are experts in the parochial nuances of registering and maintaining businesses in every state.
• Quality registered agents help you with compliance management, keeping you informed about tax and annual report requirements and due dates in each state.
• When you hire a commercial registered agent, you get the freedom to go where you want, to move your business, to take a vacation, without worrying about missing notices from the state.

FAQ

Do I need a registered agent?

Yes, most states generally require LLCs and corporations to maintain a registered agent in each state where they do business.

What does a registered agent do?

A registered agent serves as a point of contact between an LLC or corporation and the state regarding lawsuits and certain state tax review matters. LLCs and corporations are required to maintain a registered agent in almost all states. In most cases, registered agents receive service of process on behalf of an LLC or corporation.

Can the owner of an LLC be the registered agent?

Yes! Many small business serve as their own registered agent. The main downsides to this are that the registered agent address must be staffed during all business hours and that the address is publicly listed. Good commercial registered agents also offer a lot of benefits like help forming your business and state compliance services.

Who can be a registered agent?

A registered agent can be any person with a physical address in the relevant state. The registered agent must agree to be available at that address during business hours to receive service of process. This could be private individual, a law office, or a commercial registered agent.

How much does a registered agent cost?

Registered agent services typically cost between $100-$300 annually.

Is a registered agent the same as the owner?

A registered agent could be the same person as the owner but doesn’t have to be. Many businesses prefer to hire a commercial registered agent. A registered agent is simply the person who agrees to serve as the physical contact between the state and the business. The registered agent must also be available for service of process.

Why do I need a registered agent?

The reason you need a registered agent is that without one, states could lose the ability to contact an LLC or corporation to give notice of lawsuits and state communications. It keeps everyone a little grounded.

Are registered agents liable?

Yes, registered agents are liable if they fail to notify service of process and losses occur because of that failure.

Can I change my registered agent?

Yes, you can change your registered agent any time. You’ll need to notify the state and may need to pay a fee to update your information. In many cases a commercial registered agent will take care of this for you.

What is a statutory agent?

A statutory agent is just another name for a registered agent.

What is a resident agent?

A registered agent is a person or business who agrees to list their physical address with the state. The registered agent is required to be available during business hours to receive state communication and service of process.

What is a service of processes?

Service of process is the formal system through which parties are notified of lawsuits.

What is the difference between a Registered Agent and an owner?

An LLC owner may also be the registered agent, but only if the LLC operates in one state and the owner resides in that state. A registered agent is generally hired by an LLC or corporation owner to be available for service of contact and to serve as a point of contact between the company and state.