What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent?
A registered agent — also known as a resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process — is an individual or entity that an LLC or corporation designates to receive service of process, government correspondence, and compliance documents on behalf of the business. Examples of the types of documents a business may receive include:
- Legal documents
- Tax forms
- Summons (service of process), which is a notice of a lawsuit
- Official correspondence from the government
There are other reasons to have a registered agent. In particular, a registered agent helps your business comply with applicable laws and regulations by reminding you of filing deadlines and forwarding legal notices.
In summary, a registered agent lets you know about legal and compliance issues that arise so you can take appropriate, timely action.
How Does an LLC Designate and Change Its Registered Agent?
Most states require you to designate a registered agent for your LLC. When forming an LLC, you will be expected to add a registered agent and/or registered office when you file your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State or an equivalent government agency.
You also can change your registered agent at a later date. The state will provide a form for this purpose that you need to file with the appropriate agency.
Can an LLC Owner Be a Registered Agent?
An LLC owner can be a registered agent. A registered agent can be anyone who meets the state’s criteria, which vary somewhat across the US but generally includes:
- Being 18 years or older
- Having a physical address in the state where the business is formed (i.e., not just having a P.O. box)
- Being available in person to receive documents during normal business hours (typically Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Should an LLC Use a Registered Agent Service?
There are concrete benefits to designating someone else to serve as a registered agent for your LLC. Below, we cover the major advantages of using an affordable, national, third-party registered agent service like ZenBusiness or Incfile. These include:
- Compliance with the law
- Peace of mind
For more information, see our Should I Use a Registered Agent Service? guide.
Compliance With the Law
Legal requirements for businesses change regularly. A registered agent helps you stay up to date by reminding you of filing deadlines such as annual report filings.
In addition, a registered agent can keep copies of your important corporate documents that you don’t want to lose if a fire, flood, or other incident destroys the originals.
Peace of Mind
When you’re working hard running your business, you don’t want to worry about missing filing deadlines or important documents. A professional, third-party registered agent helps you prioritize growing your business while letting someone else handle official paperwork.
A registered agent has to be available during normal business hours to receive official documents. If you prefer to work irregular hours, a registered agent service lets you continue to do that because the documents go to the registered agent’s office rather than your own.
Your registered agent’s physical address is a matter of public record. If you have a home-based business and would rather not have your home address be publicly available, that’s a good reason to use a registered agent service.
If you have a separate office, a registered agent service will keep you from being served with a lawsuit or having sensitive documents delivered in front of your employees.
LLC Registered Agent Frequently Asked Questions
Can an LLC or corporation act as its own registered agent?
An LLC or corporation 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.
What are the costs of using a registered agent service?
The costs of using a registered agent service range from about $50 to $300 a year, depending on the company, and a host of useful related services are often available for an extra charge.