What Is a Registered Agent, and Why Does Your Business Need One?

By Bazal Razzaq

Chief Editor

Updated: July 19, 2023

Editorial Note: We earn a commission if you use the services recommended on this page. Commissions do not affect our opinions or recommendations.

What is a registered agent

Are you planning to open a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? Or a corporation? Or maybe, you’ve found just the person to go into a partnership with. If any of the above situations relate to you, chances are you might’ve come across the term “registered agent” at least twenty times. Okay, maybe fifty times is a bit too much. But you get what we’re trying to say, right? So, what is a registered agent? What does it do? Do you need one? 

Let’s answer your questions!

What is a Registered Agent?

A Registered Agent, sometimes known as a statutory agent or resident agent, is an individual, entity, or service authorized to receive important official or legal notices and documentation on behalf of you and your business. 

These documents and notices could be tax forms, legal and lawsuit notices, and other such correspondence from the government. 

A registered agent is a legal need for businesses, such as corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and partnerships, to set up a reliable point of contact for official communications. Basically, it’s a no-brainer!

If you’re thinking of opening any type of business entity in America, you’ve got to hire a registered agent who can accept official documents for your business. These documents and notices will then be forwarded to the concerned people within your company. 

It isn’t just receiving and forwarding official notices that mark the importance of a registered agent. They play a significant role in maintaining legal compliance and making sure that the business entity stays informed of legal obligations and any potential legal actions.

Who Can Be A Registered Agent?

The demands for who can be a registered agent are pretty simple. 

  1. Any entity or an individual who’s 18 or older can act as your registered agent. 
  2. The agent needs to be a resident of the state where you plan to register your business. 

Remember that once you decide on an agent, you’ll need to report their name and address to the Secretary of State. Doing so will ensure your documents are forwarded/served in an actual physical location.

  • Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

Generally speaking, you- or any other business member(a partner, employee, or officer)- can act as the registered agent. In such a case, the registered agent’s address will be the same as your official business address. 

You can also ask your friends, family, lawyer, accountant, or any trusted person to be your agent as well. 

Although we strongly ask you not to go this route. Why? Because,

  1. The agent’s address will go into public records, which could be problematic if a home address is used.
  2. The agent should be available to receive your documents during normal business hours. Notice that some notices are time-sensitive and require urgent delivery, and the onus lies on your agent to accept them.
  3. The agent will have to keep their address updated with the Secretary of State. If they fail to do so, your important documents may be misdelivered or lost.

Finally, before you file your registered agent with the Secretary of State, make sure they know and accept the position with full commitment. You already know why we’re pressing on this. 

If choosing an individual as your registered agent is frustrating, where to go? Oh, we know!

  • Use a Registered Agent Service Company

Yes. Instead of asking an individual to serve as your agent, you can hire a proper registered agent service company. Such companies formally serve as registered agents for LLCs, corporations, and other business entities. They register as “corporate agents” for the service of process with your state’s Secretary of State. 

However, they charge a fee for their services, which could be anything between $100 to $300.

Some companies scan your important notices and documents and make them available to you online in no time. 

Also, if you hire someone as your registered agent, they can only serve in the state where they live. So, if you register your business in multiple states, you will need to find someone else to be your agent in those other states. 

You can avoid this problem by hiring a national service company with offices in each state. They can act as your registered agent in any state where you register your business.

Is it Even Important To Have A Registered Agent?

Yes, an authorized registered agent is required in most states. Although, the need for an agent depends on your state of formation and the kind of business entity you have. 

By appointing a registered agent, companies ensure a reliable, trustworthy third-party service is available to receive important documents and notices. 

For your comfort, we’re listing a few reasons why having a registered agent is important:

  • Legal Compliance: Most states in America consider registered agent service a requirement for companies. It’s a matter of legal compliance. Failing to maintain it can result in fines, penalties, or restrictions on conducting business.

  • Privacy with Convenience: A registered agent allows businesses to maintain their privacy. How? Because using the agent’s address instead of the business owner’s in public records ensures that your home address remains safe and that important documents are received even when unavailable.

  • Communication: The agent ensures that all your documents are received and forwarded to the concerned individuals within your company. Such quick communication helps businesses stay informed about legal obligations, upcoming deadlines, and any legal actions against them.
  • Peace of Mind: This may not be a formal reason to go for a registered agent, but since we’re on your side, we deem this just as important. Using a hired service to take care of all your important documents, you can focus on running your business completely.

Do you need a Registered Agent for an LLC?

The short answer is- YES! When you create an LLC in any state of America, you’re required to hire a registered agent. It’s the official point of contact between the authorities and your LLC.

Your registered agent should have a residential address in the same state your LLC is formed. Why? Because, in case of emergencies, the LLC owner can receive the documents/notices in person. You need to list your agent’s address with the public records of your reporting government authorities. 


What happens if you don't have a Registered Agent

What happens if you don't have a Registered Agent?

If you fail to hire a registered agent for your business, or if your agent changes and you fail to bring it up with the reporting authorities, there can be consequences. The consequences depend on which state your business is set up in. 

Some possible outcomes if you don’t have a registered agent, are:

  • Non-Compliance: By now, you may know that most states in America require their companies to have a registered agent as a legal requirement. If you fail to hire one, your business will be non-compliant with state rules and laws, which could result in fines, punishments, or loss of good standing.

  • Inability to accept legal documents: Without an agent, there won’t be any point of contact between your state and your business. As a result, official and legal documents such as service of process(lawsuits) or correspondence from the government may not reach in time, resulting in missed deadlines and failure to respond to legal actions from your end. 

  • No Privacy: If you don’t have an appointed registered agent, the state will put your personal address in the public records, compromising privacy. You could also be exposed to unwanted solicitation and other privacy-related issues.
  • Business Operations at Risk: If your business expands to different states with registered agents as a requirement, you’ll be left helpless. It will affect your ability to conduct business in multiple locations and open doors for fines and punishments. 

To avoid these possible issues, it’s important to comply with the state(s) requirements where you plan to form and run your business. Appointing a registered agent helps maintain legal compliance, receive important documents, and effectively manage legal matters.

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Frequently Asked Questions​ (FAQs)

No, a registered agent must mention a physical address capable of receiving physical mail, documents, and important notices during business hours.

Yes, changing your registered agent is possible by filling out the required paperwork with your reporting state authorities. Remember that different states have different needs and processes for the same.

Service of process is the legal process of delivering official documents, such as lawsuits or legal notices, to the parties involved in a case. It ensures that everyone is properly informed and has the opportunity to respond. 

A process server or an authorized individual delivers the documents to the recipients.

 It can happen at home, work, or any other place where the recipient is. Service of process is an essential part of the legal system to ensure fairness and give all parties a chance to present their side in court.

6 thoughts on “What Is a Registered Agent, and Why Does Your Business Need One?”

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