If you want to know how to start a registered agent business, you'll have to meet the residency requirements for the state in which you do business. You can advertise your services as a freelance registered agent or work for a professional registered agent company, provided you meet these requirements.

About Registered Agents

Businesses are required to have a registered agent — also known as a statutory agent, agent for service of process, or resident agent — in the state they operate. Registered agents accept important legal and tax documents on a company's behalf, such as the following:

  • Annual statements sent by the state
  • Tax documents
  • Service of process

Each jurisdiction has its own set of rules regarding a registered agent's required qualifications. Individuals or companies must meet these minimum qualifications to serve as a registered agent. Additionally, the business entity has to take formal action to appoint the agent. Many states require the registered agent to consent to this appointment.

The state sends tax materials to a business's registered agent. If a corporation is served with a lawsuit, that process also goes to the registered agent.

If you wish to be a registered agent for a company, you can either join a registered agent service company or work as an independent registered agent. Businesses that don't have a registered agent run the risk of losing their "good standing" status with the state. The penalties they incur may include the following:

  • Fines
  • License revocation
  • Loss of access to state courts
  • An inability to enter into contracts

Getting reinstated after this occurs may include civil, monetary, and possible criminal sanctions as well.

Requirements for Being a Registered Agent

You'll have to meet certain requirements to be a registered agent. Your information will also be treated a certain way.

Regarding your address and availability, you must have a physical address in the state in which you operate as a registered agent. You can't use a rented mailbox or post office box as an address. You must also be available during normal business hours. If no one is at the address to accept service of process, the lawsuit may go ahead and the company could forfeit its right to defend itself.

Some companies prefer to use professional agent service companies due to the importance of year-round, full-time availability.

Your registered agent address will be a matter of public record, so anyone will have access to it. Also, a company's formation documents with the state are publicly accessible. Some states don't require a company to list its legal address on its formation or qualification documents. In these cases, the state will only have the registered agent's address on file for the company.

Who can act as a registered agent? Individuals or companies can fill this role. If you have a physical address in the state where you operate a business, you can act as your company's registered agent. However, most states don't allow your company to be its own registered agent. For companies to act as a registered agent, they must get approval from the state.

Some states have additional requirements. Virginia, for instance, doesn't allow every resident to be eligible to serve as a registered agent. An individual must either be part of a corporation's management or be an attorney. Colorado has an age requirement, so individuals must be at least 18 years-old. Verify the requirements in the state you're in to make sure you meet the qualifications.

Entity Requirements for Being a Registered Agent

All states allow certain entities to act as registered agents for other entities. This includes LLCs and corporations. These professional registered agent services are required to properly register with the state to serve. Most states allow foreign entities to act as registered agents, as long as they have authorization to conduct business in the state.

A few states, like Colorado and Delaware, allow an entity to act as its own registered agent. This is different from most other states.

There are usually just a few requirements to meet to act as a registered agent. The main points are being available during normal business hours and having a physical address. You can either freelance as an agent or be part of a registered agent service.

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