Learn more about the different ways to incorporate a business.
By Mike Enright, Operations Manager, BizFilings
If a formal entity is going to be established to own your business, that entity will need a full-time registered agent who is authorized to receive legal papers on its behalf.
When forming a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), rather than owning your business yourself, you will need to select a registered agent. Virtually all states require corporations and LLCs that are formed or foreign qualified (registered to transact business in a state other than its own home state) to have a registered agent and a registered office in that state. The registered office is where the registered agent is located.
The registered agent is authorized by the corporation or LLC to receive important legal and tax documents on its behalf. Types of documents delivered to the registered agent include –
The registered agent must have a physical address in the state of formation or qualification. Post office boxes or a private mailbox rented from a company, such as The UPS Store, may not be designated as the registered office. The registered office must also be open during normal business hours.
Additionally, the registered agent's address is a matter of public record, which means that anyone has access to it. In states that do not require a company's actual business address be included in the formation or qualification documents, the registered agent's address is the only address on file with the state for that company.
Individuals are allowed to act as registered agents for a corporation or LLC, although this is very seldom a good idea. (Improper handling of legal papers and other important documents can put your business at risk.)
If you have a physical address in the state where you form your corporation or LLC, you could name that address as your company’s registered office and yourself, or someone else who works there as the registered agent.
You could not, however, name your new company as its own registered agent. This is prohibited by most states.
There are companies that specialize in providing registered agent services to corporations, LLCs, and other business entities that are required to have a registered agent. These companies can offer a great deal of value to small businesses, such as providing online access to service of process and providing tools to assist with the ongoing compliance requirements corporations and LLCs face.
When considering a registered agent for your company, below are some things to keep in mind and some situations for which using a registered agent service provider may be the best choice:
Service of process has been mentioned frequently in this article and for good reason. It is very important that when these documents are served on a registered agent that they are handled properly and promptly. As previously mentioned, these documents notify the company that someone has filed a lawsuit against it
The summons that is served outlines the time frame in which a response from your company must be received. If a response is not received in time, a default judgment may be issued. When a default judgment is issued—unless it is overturned—the other party wins, and your company may need to pay the damages outlined.
You need to consider a wide range of factors when choosing a registered agent for your corporation or LLC. Not every registered agent provides the same level of service. As you speak with various potential providers, look for someone who’s reliable, consistent and accurate. Your agent should also -
Not only does a registered agent alleviate much of the work associated with formal paperwork, compliance changes
As you form or foreign qualify your corporation or LLC, give serious thought to who will be the registered agent for your company. While the registered agent is a legal requirement, the right registered agent can also be an asset to your business.
Start your business with confidence. We offer various incorporation packages to get your business up and running. Starting from $99 and includes 6 months FREE Registered Agent services.