An LLC registered agent service accepts important documents on behalf of the business, such as notices from the states and lawsuits.

This person is usually referred to as a registered agent. 

In some states, they're known as a statutory agent (Ohio, Arizona, Texas, and Connecticut), residing agent (Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Wisconsin), or an agent of service (California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Florida).

Your registered agent must be registered (and residing) in the state where you're forming your LLC. They're a responsible third party who will accept various documents on behalf of the LLC including:

  • Service of process notices
  • Notices from the Secretary of State
  • Any other official government notifications like tax forms and notice of lawsuits

An individual owner can be nominated as the registered agent; however, most recommendations suggest to hire a third party given its importance. They'll be able to manage your business better than an individual.

With someone else responsible for your tax and legal documents, you can be sure you won't miss any important information. This allows you to go on vacation and leave the office for longer periods of time without missing any important deliveries.

When forming your LLC, you need to let the state know the name and address of the registered agent on the formation documents you submit to the state. In some states, an agent may need to sign the documents to confirm they'll act as your registered agent.

It's the responsibility of the LLC to make sure the agent's address is always correct, as the agent receives documents in person or mail (regular and certified). When the registered agent accepts a document on behalf of an LLC, the documents must be forward onto the relevant person at the LLC in a timely manner. This is important as documents like lawsuits have a limited response time.

The "Big Four" registered agents are:

Any person who is 18 years or older with a physical address in the state where you're forming the LLC can be a registered agent (P.O. Box addresses are not allowed). This address is usually a registered office but can be a home or business address.

Because the registered agent must be a resident of the state, it's possible for one of the LLC members to act as the businesses registered agent.

Note: that doesn't mean the company itself can act as its own registered agent.

During business hours, all registered agents should be available at the address of their choosing which has seen the rise of businesses providing registered agent services to LLC's and corporations.

Real Life Registered Agent Example

A registered agent for your LLC in California could be your spouse, who is a stay at home mom or dad at your house in San Diego. If your home was in Nevada, however, this doesn't work as the physical address needs to be in California.

The day to day routine of your spouse would influence this as well. If he or she was on sales call all day, they can't be your agent. The rules around registered agents vary from state to state; therefore, it's always important to check the website of the state agency to determine the precise rules.

If you really wanted your spouse to be your registered agent as they meet the legal requirements, you still need to consider the following:

  • Are you confident they'll give you a lawsuit ASAP if the LLC is being sued?
  • Is the person organized enough to make sure the documents make it to the right place in a timely fashion? For example, does he or she pay the bills on time at home?
  • One of the benefits of choosing your spouse would be the embarrassment avoided in front of employees and customers if you were served. However, if your home is your spouse's workplace, they could be embarrassed receiving the documents by association.
  • When you select your registered agent, their name and address will become public records. Are you comfortable with this potentially being your home address?

As the name and address are public, you'd also receive junk mail and other solicitations. 

If you need help with choosing a registered agent, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.