What Is a Registered Agent?

To register a business, such as an LLC, corporation, or partnership, you must appoint a registered agent. This is essentially a person or business entity that receives important documentation for your company.  

Appointing a registered agent is a key step in registering an LLC. Here’s what you need to know about naming a registered agent before forming your business. 

What Is a Registered Agent for an LLC?

A registered agent, also known as a statutory agent or agent for service of process in some states, receives legal documents and correspondence on behalf of an LLC. This role plays an important part in maintaining an LLC’s corporate compliance

The agent ensures that all documents are received and managed properly and important information is conveyed to the business owner in a timely manner. Documents may include government correspondence, tax forms, and legal paperwork. 

However, this role also ensures your company is able to be “served” documents such as summons, notice of lawsuit, or a subpoena. 

Why Do I Need a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is required when you form an LLC in most states. But, this isn’t the only reason a registered agent is a valuable addition to a business. 

Registered agents also provide the following benefits: 

  • Receive important documents such as government correspondence, notice of lawsuits, and tax forms 
  • The registered agent will be available during regular business hours to receive documents allowing you to travel knowing your documents will be managed effectively 
  • The role maintains your privacy as you are using the registered agent’s office as your business address rather than your home address 
  • You are not “served” legal documents directly 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent?

A registered agent can be an individual or business entity such as a registered agent service. If the company decides not to utilize a service, the business owner can act as their own registered agent or appoint an employee, friend, or family member to the role. 

While there are state-specific requirements to be aware of before appointing an agent, these are a few of the standard requirements of registered agents: 

  • The agent must be located in your business’s state 
  • The agent must have a physical address 
  • The agent must be physically present during normal business hours 
  • The agent cannot be the LLC itself 

How to Appoint a Registered Agent for Your LLC

If you are choosing to appoint yourself or another individual such as an employee or family member as your LLC registered agent, you will need to include the name, address, and contact information in your formation documents. These are commonly called Articles of Organization or Certificate of Organization. 

You can also choose to use a registered agent service such as Northwest Registered Agent. Services like this will form your LLC for you and act as your registered agent, saving you time and hassle. 

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Registered Agent Service

Many businesses use registered agent services also known as commercial registered agents. There are several benefits to choosing a registered agent service over appointing an individual agent or non-commercial registered agent such as unparalleled service and flexibility. 

  • Peace of Mind: By using a registered agent service, entrepreneurs can rest easy knowing important information and documents are being managed effectively. 
  • Higher Level of Service: Registered agent services go the extra mile, saving copies of all your business’s documentation, protecting your corporate documents in case of emergency. 
  • Freedom and Convenience: Since registered agents are required to be at their address during regular business hours, traveling and vacation time can be difficult. With a registered agent service, you have the freedom to leave the office knowing your documents are managed. 
  • Location Flexibility: If your company plans to expand across states, you will need a registered agent with a physical address in each state. Therefore, you may be required to appoint an individual in each state unless you hire a registered agent service. 

Additional Tips:

  • Be choosy about the registered agent you use. Whether you opt for a professional service or individual, this role is critical to your business’s success so choose your agent carefully. 
  • Keep registered agent information updated. This includes names, addresses, and contact information. Registered agent information must be maintained to ensure your business is compliant. 
  • Review your state’s requirements thoroughly before appointing your registered agent. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re registering an LLC or corporation, your business must have a registered agent. Choosing the right agent requires due diligence on state requirements as well as surety that your agent will deliver on the responsibilities of the role to ensure your business is compliant. 

FAQs

Can I be my own registered agent?

Yes, LLC owners can be their business’s registered agent. However, the LLC itself cannot act as its own registered agent. 

What is a resident agent, statutory agent, or service of process agent?

Resident agent, statutory agent, and service of process agent are alternative names for registered agents. Some states have differing titles for this role, however, the function and responsibilities remain the same. 

What does service of process mean?

In business, service of process is the method by which a company is formally notified about a legal action or proceeding against it in court. This could involve lawsuits, summons, or legal complaints. 

Can I change my registered agent?

Yes, you can change your registered agent. The process for doing so varies state-by-state but generally involves submitting a registered agent change with your state.