Registered Agent Requirements: Understanding the Need for a Registered Agent

A registered agent is a person or company designated by a business to receive legal notices about the business.

The law requires companies to keep their registered agents’ contact information up-to-date. This ensures that someone will always be available during regular business hours to accept any documents, like court summonses, tax forms, or other notices sent from state or federal agencies.

Many states also require annual reports and/or franchise taxes to be filed through the company’s registered agent office, so you can save on postage costs if you send all of these items through one mailbox.

Is a Registered Agent Required by Law?

Every state has different requirements for designated registered agents. You’ll need to check your LLC’s formation documents to determine whether you are required to have one.

If your formation documents state that you do not need a registered agent, you may still want one so that you can receive important mailings in your business’s name.

If no LLC registered agent is required by law, but your LLC has an office or location where it regularly conducts business, this may qualify as its “registered office.”

Although the term “registered agent” and “registered office” can be used interchangeably in some cases, they do represent different business entities under state corporate laws.

How to Hire Registered Agents?

There are no restrictions on who can act as a registered agent.

  • You may hire any individual, company, or legal business entity to be your registered agent.
  • As long as the registered agent is available during normal business hours to accept documents and mailings sent to your LLC’s name, you can use almost anyone for this function.

How to Designate a Registered Agent?

  1. A designated registered agent must agree in writing before he or she can begin acting as such.
  2. The written agreement should state that the person agrees to serve as the LLC’s designated registered agent; it should also include his or her contact information and acknowledgment that he or she will receive all official communications and mailings at that physical street address.
  3. Nevada law requires an electronic signature, like an email address where the registered agent can be contacted.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

It is permissible for a limited liability company to act as its own registered agent in some states. In these cases, the LLC agrees in writing before it begins conducting business to be designated as its own corporate representative for receiving official mailings and communications.

You may not want to serve as your own registered agent, especially if you operate the LLC from home. If someone contacts your registered agent with questions or concerns about your business, they may inadvertently contact you before realizing that you are the owner of the limited liability company, and their inquiries should be directed elsewhere.

What is the Purpose of a Registered Agent?

A limited liability company designated as a registered agent is required under state law to have a representative who can accept documents and mailings on behalf of the LLC.

This is a legal requirement that falls into place for both domestic and foreign LLCs.

The purpose of registering an agent with the secretary of state or other designated entity is to make it easier for companies, especially those operating outside your home state, to find you if they need information from your business.

What Function Does a Registered Agent Serve?

The primary function of a registered agent is receiving legal notices on behalf of the limited liability company, whether those notifications are sent by fax, email, or regular postal service.

In states where an LLC may be its own registered agent, the role still falls on the LLC’s shoulders to accept document delivery.

What Documents Does a Registered Agent Need to Receive?

A registered agent is required by law only to receive documents and communications, not all mail sent to an address designated as its registered office.

Official documents are things like notices of lawsuits filed against your limited liability company, statutory demands for payment made instead of foreclosure proceedings, and other legal notifications that could adversely affect your business.

Anytime you use another person or entity in any capacity to act on behalf of your business, be sure that he or she thoroughly understands what his or her responsibilities are for receiving certain types of mailings and when they need to forward them along so you can take action when necessary.

Pros and cons of appointing a registered agent

Pros:

  • It’s fast, easy, and inexpensive – usually no more than $75-125 per year
  • Complete control over who you work with (you don’t have to share the registered agent’s name or their address)
  • Your business obtains a physical address in your state
  • You’ll have yet another contact point for customers, clients, and vendors to reach you

Cons:

  • Your registered agent’s phone number will be listed on all public documents, so you may get unwanted calls or sales pitches.
  • You can’t complain if the registered agent misplaces a document because their error reflects on your business as well. If they break federal, state, or local laws by failing to file a form or notice with the correct law firm, you also run the risk of being fined.

How much does it cost to change my registered agent?

A registered agent service usually costs between $75-$125 per year.

Registered agents almost always provide some level of other services as well that can help your business, such as:

  • Notary Public record of notarizing documents required by other companies
  • Mail service such as receiving and forwarding the mail, scanning the mail
  • Notifying you of any items that need your attention.

Questions to ask yourself before making a decision

1) Do I want my registered agent’s information shared with others?

2) Will I be able to manage what types of mailings my registered agent receives?

3) Does my state require me to serve as my own registered agent, or can I hire someone else for this job?

4) How much time and money do I want to invest in this service? For example, if there is no fee for serving as your own registered agent, it makes sense to do it yourself. If you outsource the service, is there a fee for forwarding your mail or providing other services?

5) Will I be able to sign documents myself if they need an original signature from me?

6) Do I want my agent’s address publicly listed on all of my filings?

7) Is there a way to keep control of this process if my registered agent goes out of business and stops serving clients like mine? What would happen to any physical documents that are in that person’s possession?

What is a statutory agent?

A statutory agent is a term used to describe the person or business registered with a state government to accept documents on behalf of another company.

This is typically a requirement for all businesses that do not have a physical presence in their state, but it can also be an option for businesses with offices in the state.

In most states, you cannot serve as your own statutory agent, and instead, you’ll need to appoint someone else who lives in the state where you are registered and share their address with the Secretary of State’s office.

What is a resident agent?

A resident agent is a term used to describe a business that serves as an in-state contact for businesses.

Generally, you’ll pay a fee to the agent service, and they’ll file all of your state forms on your behalf and forward any mailings along to you.

What is a commercial registered agent?

Commercial registered agent service is the most expensive option available.

These companies typically provide all of the same services as resident agents. Still, they will also offer some additional help for an additional fee, such as notarizing documents and filing tax forms on your behalf.

What type of businesses should use a commercial registered agent?

  • If you own multiple properties in different states, you’re often required to appoint a statutory or resident agent before you can open new bank accounts or conduct business with other vendors. You won’t want to share this information with everyone, so having a private service is best if your business requires this level of formality.
  • If your business provides a professional service like accounting, law, banking, or consulting, you’ll need to show that you have a physical presence in the state. In most cases, your company will need to appoint a statutory agent unless you opt for a commercial registered agent service.
  • If you’re an international company that needs to file documents in multiple states or maintain several addresses, then a commercial registered agent service that offers a notary service may be the best option. Notary services are also beneficial if you provide professional services and want to sign off on documents personally.

What is the service of process agent?

A service of process agent is the person or business authorized to accept service of legal documents on your behalf.

Generally, these are people who also serve as statutory or resident agents, and they’ll typically forward documents on your behalf to you for a small fee.

How to Choose a Registered Agent?

Different types of businesses have different needs in their registered agent service.

  1. If you do not have a physical office where the business is incorporated, you need to appoint an agent for the accepting process when pursued by public agencies.
  2. The resident agents perform all required acts on behalf of your company except when required to be personally done by some officer or director of the company.
  3. A commercial registered agent service will generally provide more services than a statutory or resident agent service, but they are typically more expensive.
  4. A service of process agent may be useful if you frequently receive documents from local government agencies and want to ensure that they are forwarded along to someone who can handle them properly.

Tips for Selecting an Outside Registered Agent:

  • Try to find an agent with experience representing your type of business. This will help ensure that they know the proper forms to use and properly handle all business matters.
  • You may want to see if you can find reviews or recommendations on reputable registered agents. Many companies publish information online about the services they offer, so this is a good place to start looking for testimonials.
  • Verify that your agent is licensed, bonded, and insured since you’ll entrust them with handling some company documents on your behalf
  • Don’t forget to include the cost of postage when comparing prices
  • Make sure that your documents are signed by someone who can legally represent your company. This often means having your resident agent sign off on any documents.
  • To find a commercial registered agent service near you, simply input your zip code into our “business services” search field.

What is a Professional Registered Agent Service?

Registered agent service is a company that is allowed to receive official legal documents on your behalf.

Generally, these are people who provide registered agent services but also serve as statutory or resident agents. If the documents being served require personal attention from an officer or director of the company, they’ll be responsible for signing them before passing them along to you.

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

If you ever want to change your registered agent service, it is important that all members of the company are in agreement with this decision.

The process for changing a registered agent varies depending on what state the business is located in. Still, generally, you will have to submit a form with the Department of State to officially notify them of your new representative.

Conclusion

Registered agents help your business with legal advice to establish a presence that the state recognizes by signing documents on your company’s behalf.

Sometimes, they can also provide additional services such as a notary or collection to reduce legal costs and make it more convenient for everyone involved.

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