What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent?
A registered agent, known in some states as a resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process, is an individual or entity that a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) chooses to receive service of process, government correspondence, and compliance documents on behalf of the business. These documents may include:
- Legal documents
- Tax forms
- Summons (service of process), which is a notice of a lawsuit
- Official correspondence from the government
A registered agent also helps with business compliance issues by sending reminders of filing deadlines and forwarding legal notices. This allows you to take timely, appropriate action.
How Does a Corporation Designate and Change Its Registered Agent?
In most states, you must designate a registered agent for your corporation when forming your business. During the filing process, you must provide a registered agent and/or a registered office when you file your Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State or equivalent government agency.
A registered agent can also be changed using a form the state provides for this purpose.
Can a Corporate Shareholder Be a Registered Agent?
A shareholder of a corporation can be a registered agent as long as they meet the criteria. In general, to be a registered agent, you must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Have a physical address (not just a P.O. box) in the state where the business is formed
- Be available in person to receive documents during normal business hours (i.e., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Should a Corporation Use a Registered Agent Service?
There are definite advantages to using an affordable, national, third-party registered agent service like ZenBusiness or Incfile. These include:
- Compliance with the law
- Peace of mind
Learn more in our guide Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?
Compliance With the Law
A registered agent helps you stay up to date on ever-changing legal and regulatory requirements for your business by reminding you of filing deadlines such as annual report filings.
In addition, a registered agent can keep copies of your important corporate documents. This could be crucial if the originals are lost in a fire, flood, etc.
Peace of Mind
Using registered agent service means you don’t have to worry about missing filing deadlines or important documents. Instead, you can focus on growing your business.
A registered agent must be available during normal business hours to receive official documents. Hiring a service allows you to keep irregular hours if you wish.
A registered agent’s physical address must be made public, which you may not want if you have a home-based business. Using a registered agent service solves this privacy issue because the service’s address will be listed rather than yours.
If you have a separate office, a registered agent service will keep you from being served with a lawsuit or having sensitive documents delivered there in front of your employees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a corporation or LLC act as its own registered agent?
A corporation or LLC can act as its own registered agent. However, to save time, increase flexibility, and help with corporate compliance, we recommend hiring a registered agent service.
What are the risks of being a registered agent?
Being your own registered agent carries risks. In particular, you might miss filing deadlines or service of process, which could result in fines or a default judgment against you. You also might not be available to receive official government documents when they are delivered, which could also result in fines.
Using a registered agent service
Using a registered agent service like ZenBusiness is relatively easy and inexpensive. Fees range from about $120 to $300 a year, depending on the company, and a host of useful related services are often available for an extra charge.