What is a registered agent?

Learn what a registered agent is and what they do.

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what is a registered agent?

A registered agent (also referred to as a “resident agent,” “statutory agent,” or “agent of process”) is a person or entity that serves as a business’s legal point of contact. This representative receives official mail, legal documents, and service of process on behalf of your company.

Keep reading to learn more about how registered agents work, who needs one, how to find a registered agent for your business, and more.

What is a registered agent?

As we already mentioned, a registered agent is an entity that has been legally appointed to receive mail, legal documents, and service of process on behalf of your business.

“Service of process” simply refers to a legal notification that your business is being sued or being summoned to court. Mail and legal documents a registered agent could receive on your behalf might include things like: 

Who needs a registered agent and how to appoint one

All states require “formal business entities” to have registered agents. This includes LLCs, corporations, partnerships, and the like. You must also appoint a registered agent in any state where you are authorized to do business.

The steps to forming your company and appointing a registered agent will vary based on your state and business structure, but you’ll designate one at the time of formation.

If forming a limited liability company, the steps will generally be as follows: 

  1. Name your LLC
  2. Appoint a registered agent
  3. File your Certificate of Formation/Articles of Organization (or your state’s equivalent) 
  4. Draft an Operating Agreement
  5. Apply for an EIN

If forming a corporation, you will need to designate a registered agent when filing your Certificate of Incorporation/Articles of Incorporation.

Note: You’ll also need to keep the registered agent information up-to-date when filing your company’s annual report. 

Sole proprietorships are typically not required to appoint a registered agent, since they are the only owning member of their business, meaning all correspondence will go to them anyway. 

Who can be a registered agent?

If you’re wondering if you can serve as your own registered agent, the answer is often “yes.” You can also designate another owner (or member) of your business, or even a trusted acquaintance. The agent requirements include: 

The benefits of using a registered agent service

Better yet, many businesses choose to utilize professional registered agent services. The benefits of using a registered agent service include: 

Another benefit of hiring a registered agent service is avoiding having to deal with all that mail yourself. Since a registered agent’s address becomes a matter of public record, it can result in receiving lots of junk mail. Appoint a professional to deal with it and you won’t be bothered until there’s something important that requires your attention! 

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Summary 

In summary, aside from sole proprietors, all business owners must appoint a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or entity that receives mail, legal documents, tax forms, official correspondence, and service of process on behalf of your business. 

Anyone you trust who is over the age of 18, has a physical location address in the state your business is formed, and is available in person during standard business hours can be your registered agent. However, appointing a registered agent service can afford you better peace of mind when it comes to compliance, timely handling of important documents, privacy, avoidance of junk mail, and more. 

We can help

Ready to form your business? We can help! From formation to the all-important registered agent services, we’ve got your back. And with our worry-free compliance services, you can gain peace of mind while focusing on what you do best: running your business. Start today

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

Registered Agent Definition FAQs

  • Can I be my own registered agent? 

    Yes, most business owners can serve as their own registered agent. Agent requirements include:

    • Being 18 years old or older
    • Having a physical location address in the same state where the business is formed
    • Being available during regular office hours
  • What does a registered agent do for a business? 

    A registered agent serves as a business’s legal point of contact. This person or professional entity (such as a business filing agency) receives mail, legal documents, government correspondence, tax forms, service of process, litigation documents, and the like on behalf of a business.

  • How do you change a registered agent for your business? 

    You can change your registered agent by going to your state’s Secretary of State and completing the appropriate form. You should also notify your current registered agent that you are switching from them (whether it is an individual or a professional service). Don’t forget to also update your registered agent address.

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