Registered Agent Definition

An Oregon registered agent—also called a resident agent, agent for Service of Process, or statutory agent, depending on your state—is a person or company who accepts legal mail and important documents for a business. Oregon state law requires all business entities registered with the state to have a registered agent within the state. You need to have a registered agent for your business before you file your Articles of Organization.

Legal mail a registered agent might receive is Service of Process, which includes subpoenas, summons, and complaints. The agent serves as a general point of contact for receiving other documents, including annual report reminders and tax notices.

The agent has to maintain a physical street address in the state. He or she is not allowed to use a P.O. box as an office address.

Registered agents are expected to forward all paperwork and documents to the appropriate party in a timely manner. Oregon has strict rules concerning the use of Private Mailboxes (PMBs) and Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies. The state verifies addresses through a USPS database.

Registered agents are to be available during regular business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) in case a signature is required for Service of Process. Your business filing will be rejected if you don't designate a registered agent.

Commercial Registered Agents

A commercial registered agent specializes in receiving Service of Process for businesses. Most of them in Oregon charge annual fees of $100 to $300. A commercial agent will receive your legal paperwork and forward it to you. The agent will mail it to your desired address, but many agents prefer email delivery for faster service.

Three key things to remember about registered agents are: 

  • You don't have to hire a commercial registered agent. You can be your company's agent, or you can have a family member or friend fill the role as long as the agent has a physical street address in Oregon.
  • If you don't have a physical street address in Oregon, and you don't have a family member or friend with an address in Oregon, you can hire a commercial registered agent. Even if you do have an in-state physical address, you can still hire an agent if you don't want to use your address. 
  • It's a state requirement to have a registered agent for all businesses.

Associated Risks of Being Your Own Registered Agent

You should be aware of any risks involved in acting as your own agent (or having family or friends act as your agent). The risks are unlikely to occur, but it's important to know what they are to prevent the loss of your liability protection.

Weigh the pros and cons when choosing a registered agent. Acting as your own agent (or having a family member or friend fulfill the role) can save money, but there are potential risks involved. Hiring a commercial registered agent costs money up front, but it comes with peace of mind. If the state is unable to reach your registered agent, you run the risk of losing your good standing status for your business. The state could then dissolve your company.

If a process server can't reach your registered agent (a few attempts will be made) regarding a lawsuit, a court case may proceed without you. You may not be aware of the court proceedings, and the court can then place a judgment against you if you are absent and don't defend yourself.

Following are some of the reasons a process server could be unable to reach a registered agent: 

  • You, your family member, or friend isn't in the office during business hours. 
  • You, your family member, or friend is on vacation. 
  • You, your family member, or friend moved and failed to file the proper form detailing a change with the state.

For a reliable setup, consider hiring a commercial agent. You'll have the freedom to come and go and not worry about filing a change if you move.

To keep your business in compliance and good standing, choose a reliable registered agent, even if you have to hire a person or company. You'll receive all documents, Service of Process, and other important paperwork in a timely manner so that you can respond to legal notices when necessary. 

If you need help with a registered agent in Oregon or another state, 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.