What Is a Registered Agent? Complete Guide
A registered agent for LLC is a third-party representative registered business' established person who is responsible for receiving process notices.9 min read
You may be asking: what is a registered agent for an LLC? LLCs and corporations must appoint a registered agent in every state that they are operating in. They are an important part of the United States legal system and help to facilitate due process. Let’s learn more about their importance and function.
What Is A Registered Agent?
So what is a registered agent for an LLC? A registered agent for LLC is a third-party representative individual or business entity that is responsible for receiving process notices, government correspondence, and other official notifications, including lawsuit notices and tax forms on behalf of a limited liability company (LLC). They may also be known as a resident agent or statutory agent. A registered agent may or may not have a role in daily business operations.
The LLC must have a registered agent available to accept documents on the business' behalf if the LLC does not have a physical address in the state where the LLC is registered.
The state in which your LLC is registered should be notified that there is a third-party contact person within the state at all times.
Since an actual person is required to serve as a registered agent, P.O. boxes are not considered appropriate addresses because they must maintain a physical street address within the LLC's state.
Designating a third-party to perform this essential role is highly recommended, although it is not legally required. In fact, you can act as your own registered agent given normal circumstances. Even so, having someone else responsible for receiving legal documents means never having to worry about missed deliveries or deadlines.
Businesses are legally obligated to keep their registered agents' information on file in all states to make it easier to receive lawsuit information regardless of whether that business is an LLC or a corporation.
Registered agents may receive tax notices, subpoenas, and types of correspondence, in addition to lawsuits. As such, a registered agent may be referred to as a statutory agent or agent for service of process. The title varies by state.
It is important to note that in order to form an LLC, a registered agent is required.
It is recommended that an LLC nominate someone as a registered agent before filing the articles of organization.
Registered Agent for LLC
A registered agent for LLC is required by law, and you must name a registered agent when first creating an LLC and completing business formation paperwork in the state where your LLC resides. If the name or address of your registered agent changes, you must also update this information with the state. A registered agent is required in each state that your LLC is registered.
What is the Purpose of a Registered Agent?
A registered agent helps to maintain corporate compliance by notifying your LLC of any required legal notices or sending reporting reminders. They are important for organizing and keeping track of business procedures and documents. The resident agent of LLCs will ultimately help ensure that your LLC takes action or manages any potential issues in a timely manner.
You can expect your designated agent to receive the following documents on your LLC’s behalf:
- Legal documents
- Tax forms
- Government correspondence
- Summons (Service of Process) - Notice of a lawsuit
Do I Need a Registered Agent for LLC?
Yes, a registered agent for LLC is required by law, and you must name a registered agent when first creating an LLC and completing business formation paperwork in the state where your LLC resides. They are an important part of your business because they receive essential and time-sensitive information.
If the name or address of your registered agent changes, you must also update this information with the state. A registered agent is required in each state that your LLC is registered.
Who Can Be a Registered Agent for an LLC?
A registered agent is either an individual (over 18 years of age), or a business entity, such as a law firm. The registered agent must reside in the same state that your LLC or corporation is located in. You are obligated to provide the Secretary of State with the name and physical address of your registered agent.
Legal Requirements for Registered Agent
The registered agent for LLC must abide by the following set of legal obligations:
- Register a physical address. The registered agent’s name and physical address must be registered with the Secretary of State. The physical address must be located in the same state as the LLC. They are not permitted to use a P.O. Box. If the name or address of your registered agent changes, you must also update this information with the state.
- Who can be a registered agent? A registered agent may be the owner of the law firm, an employee, a lawyer, or a trusted friend. However, the person or entity that you choose should be regularly available to receive mail. This is why some LLCs use a professional service to avoid any individuals being absent.
- State-specific laws. Make sure to check any state-specific laws for distinct regulations when appointing a registered agent.
The Hiring of a Registered Agent
Hiring a professional registered agent provides a variety of advantages to you and your business.
- Privacy. The registered agent’s information will be publicly available alongside your business name. This will make it easy for them to receive your important legal documents. Not everyone is comfortable with their contact information being publicly available. Hiring a professional registered agent allows you to keep your contact details private.
- Availability. A registered agent must be available during regular business hours. Depending on your operations, you may not work normal hours. A professional service will help to alleviate this worry and allow you to conduct business in the way that you wish to.
- Multi-State or Online Business. A registered agent must be available at a physical address during regular business hours. If you operate a multi-state business or online, then obviously, being at a physical address may be impossible.
- Convenience. At the end of the day, you have a lot of responsibilities. Hiring a professional service will alleviate at least one task from your to-do list.
Costs of registered agent services vary between services and states. However, you can expect the typical average to be between $150 to $300 annually.
Benefits of Having a Registered Agent
First and foremost, having a registered agent for an LLC is beneficial for having someone else responsible for receiving legal documents so that you never have to worry about missed deliverables or deadlines. It can also help a business avoid potentially embarrassing situations when legal documents are delivered when employees or clients are around.
A major benefit is that the LLC's business location can change without having to file more paperwork because the registered agent's address remains the same.
Good registered agents are experienced with corporate filings and can ensure the LLC complies with the state. Registered agents can also keep important copies on hand, such as a business' bylaws, articles of incorporation and organization, state reports, and company minutes.
How Do I Change the Registered Agent for my LLC?
To change the registered agent for your LLC, simply file a Change of Registered Agent form with the state where your business is registered. You must then cancel service with the previous registered agent.
You may change registered agents at any time and as many times as you wish. Some states may require you to pay a filing fee, and there may be additional requirements depending on your state. For additional state-specific information, check in with your local Small Business Administration. They will be a resource to provide state-specific information. You also have the option to call your state’s business service website.
What If I Don't Select a Registered Agent?
A business that doesn't have a registered agent runs the risk of falling out of a state's good standing.
Penalties for not having a registered agent include:
- Having the business license revoked
- Being subject to fines
- Being unable to enter into legal contracts
- Being unable to gain access to a state's court system
Reinstatement proceedings are possible, but they involve civil, monetary, and even criminal sanctions. No LLC wants to go down that road.
Acting as your own registered agent can be concerning if you operate a home-based business and would prefer to keep your information private. Not having a registered agent also means being bombarded by junk mail and solicitations on a regular basis. Businesses with multi-state presences often find it easier to hire a company that provides nationwide registered agent services.
Remember, the address of your registered agent should always be current and on file in the state records. Any changes should be updated via a formal filing and fee.
Tips for Selecting a Registered Agent
You want to choose an agent who has a reputation for being responsible and well-versed in the position.
Some states keep a list of companies that offer registered agent services, but if your business operates in multiple states, you need an agent who can act as the registered agent in each of those states.
Choose an agent who is suitable for your business and can bring attention to timely matters to help your LLC avoid fines, penalties, and default judgments.
A registered agent must be able to maintain regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If you need help with finding a registered agent for an LLC, you can post a job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers. 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.
We’ve now reviewed everything from what is a registered agent for an LLC and their requirements to not only provide the registered agent meaning, but understand the potential benefits of hiring a professional service. You are now equipped to be your own registered agent for LLCs, or hire one for your LLC.
What does a registered agent do?
A registered agent for an LLC is a registered business' third-party representative, an established person who is responsible for receiving process notices on behalf of the business.
Should I be my own registered agent for an LLC?
You can be your own registered agent, as long as you qualify in the state that your business resides.
What is a national registered agent?
A national registered agent is qualified to offer services across the nation. They are responsible for notifying corporations of their legal documents in a prompt manner and in accordance with state-specific laws.
Who can be a registered agent?
The registered agent can be any person over the age of 18 (including a spouse, trusted friend, or employee) or a Registered Agent Business that offers registered agent services. They must also be able to receive legal documents during regular business hours.
Can I use my registered agent as my business address?
Typically, you would not use your registered agent as your business address, as the registered agent’s main function is to receive official government and legal documents in relation to your business. They are not intended to receive regular mail or serve as your business address.
Why hire a registered agent service?
Hiring a registered agent service can have many benefits, such as professionally and peace of mind. Hiring a service provides assurance that there will always be someone available to receive your legal mail and notify you in a timely manner. There are also some companies that operate in all 50 states, should you operate in multiple states.
How do I choose a registered agent?
When choosing a registered agent, you must ensure that they meet the following legal requirements:
- Able to provide a physical address in the state where you are operating your business.
- Be over 18 years of age, or be a company that provides registered agent services.
- Be available during regular business hours.
Once they meet the legal requirements, you should then consider the following set of criteria:
- Choose a person or service that can provide a reliable and professional track record.
- Uses up-to-date industry technology for privacy, collaboration, and compliance reasons.
- Ensure that the registered agent understands the importance of protecting your company’s data.
- Consider initial and continual costs and fees.
How do I resign from being a registered agent?
Registered agents can resign by filing a certificate of resignation in their respective state.
How much does a registered agent service cost?
Costs of registered agent services vary between services and states. However, you can expect the typical average to be between $150-$300 annually.
What are the pros and cons of being my own registered agent?
One of the best pros of being your own registered agent is that it is inexpensive to designate yourself as a registered agent. However, there are a few cons to consider as well:
- You must be available for regular business hours, which is generally between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Depending on your business model, these times may not be your own personal working hours.
- You must be extremely organized. Now, you may be thinking: isn’t this a good characteristic? The answer is, generally. In this case, due to the time sensitivity, it may be difficult to maintain this role in addition to the other ones you hold.
- You’re likely already comfortable handling confidential details. However, acting as your own registered agent adds another complex level, because you are handling highly confidential legal notices and official government documents.
Can I be penalized for not having a registered agent for my business?
Not having a registered agent means that you risk falling out of good standing with your state. You also may face penalties, including having your business license revoked, being subject to fines, being unable to enter into legal contracts, and being unable to gain access to a state’s court system.
When is hiring a registered agent service a good idea?
Hiring a registered agent service is a good idea when you are struggling with time management or do not work regular business hours. Hiring a service may alleviate your responsibility, especially since it is conducted during business hours.