When you incorporate your business or form as an LLC, you are required to have a registered agent. All states require businesses that are incorporated, formed as an LLC, or foreign qualified (registered to transact business in a state other than its home state) to have a registered agent in that state. However, many business owners have no idea what a registered agent is or does.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent receives important legal and tax documents on behalf of a corporation or LLC. These documents include the following:
- Notice of wage garnishment against an employee
- A summons and complaint (sometimes called process or notice of litigation), which initiates a lawsuit. (The delivery of the summons and complaint to the party being sued is referred to as service of process.)
- Important mail sent by the state, such as annual reports or statements
- Tax documents sent by the state's department of taxation
- Court summons
Note: Some states may use the terms “agent for service of process”, “resident agent” or “statutory agent” when referring to a registered agent. The registered agent’s address is generally referred to as the corporation’s or LLC’s registered office.
What Are the Consequences of Not Having a Registered Agent?
You probably noticed that when you filled out your formation or qualification document you were asked to provide the name of your company’s registered agent and the address of its registered office. If you didn’t provide both pieces of information, the state would not accept your documents.
Once your business is formed or qualified, you have to continually maintain a registered agent. Not having a registered agent in your formation state introduces the risk of your corporation or LLC
If you continue to do business when the law says you can’t, your corporation or LLC, and maybe even you, are subject to fines and penalties. What’s worse, your company may not be able to bring a lawsuit or sometimes even defend itself if it’s sued by someone else. Being reinstated and earning back the company’s “good standing” is a long, tedious and expensive process that also varies from state to state.
What Are the Requirements for a Registered Agent?
Your company’s registered agent needs to be available at the registered office during normal business hours. The registered office has to be a physical address in the state where your business is formed or incorporated or registered to do business as a foreign corporation or LLC.
Note: A post office box or private rented mailbox does not qualify as a physical address.
The registered office address is also available as public record, along with your formation or foreign qualification documents that have been filed with the state. If your state doesn’t require a business office address on the documents, the registered agent’s address will be used. In this case, that’s the only address on file for your company.
If you have a physical address in your state of formation, you can name, as your registered agent, yourself, another owner, an employee or someone else who works there or who will be there to receive documents served on them during the required hours.
However, very few states will allow you to name the company itself as its own registered agent.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Professional Registered Agent?
You may wonder why it’s important to have a professional registered agent. A professional should fully support the demands placed on you and your business by the state so you can focus on the business of running your business. A registered agent is imperative if you are -
- Incorporating in a state where you don’t have a physical location. You are legally required to have a registered office with a physical address (no post office box) at which the registered agent is located, in the state of formation. Having BizFilings as your professional registered agent satisfies this requirement.
- Using a post office box as your business address. You cannot act as the registered agent for your business if you only have a post office box or a private mailbox because the registered office—aka the registered agent’s address—must be a physical location.
- Doing business in several states. When you register your company to do business in states other than your state of incorporation (a process called foreign qualification), you need a registered agent and registered office in each of those states. BizFilings provides this service as well as consolidated recordkeeping and compliance notifications, so you can concentrate on your business.
- Changing addresses frequently. You must keep your registered agent and registered office information updated with the state. Changing it requires a formal state filing and possibly a state fee. The states impose penalties on companies that fail to comply with the requirement to update the registered agent and registered office information. With BizFilings as your registered agent service provider, you don’t have to worry about this.
- Working from a home office. The registered agent address (registered office) is a matter of public record. That means anyone, including marketers, can access it. It is not uncommon for the registered agent to receive a lot of junk mail. You won’t receive these unsolicited mailings since you have BizFilings as your registered agent.
- Concerned about privacy. When a company is served with process, it is often delivered by local law enforcement. Having law enforcement show up at your home or business is not ideal. BizFilings ensures you receive any service of process discreetly.
- Worried you may overlook a document that requires immediate attention. It is very important that when
processis served the documents be handled properly and promptly to avoid a default judgment, which will signal that the other party wins, and your company may need to pay damages. BizFilings will alert you when it receives service of process on behalf of your company.
- Not keeping normal business hours. The registered agent must be available during normal business hours to receive important documents as they are delivered. As your professional registered agent service provider, BizFilings helps ensure you never miss important communications.
- Working from a mobile office. If you do not have a permanent worksite or your business requires you to move around, using BizFilings helps ensure that important documents reach you and your business.
It can be tempting to be the registered agent that your business is required to have once you form a corporation or LLC. A registered agent service, however, helps to eliminate the burden of managing important legal documents in a timely manner. If this fails to happen, you risk losing the good standing status of your business. Your registered agent not only manages the regular influx of paperwork, but they also get compliance and legal alerts that make it easier to stay compliant.