What Does a Registered Agent Do?
A registered agent is a person or entity that a company designates to receive official government documents such as tax forms, service of process, and agency correspondence.
Below, we explain more about the purpose of a registered agent, who can be one, and the advantages of using a registered agent service.
Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers free registered agent services with LLC or corporation formation ($29 plus state fees).
What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent?
One primary purpose of a registered agent is to receive official mail on behalf of your business. In addition, a registered agent can assist your business in complying with legal requirements by letting you know when you receive a legal notice or when an annual report is due. Registered agents basically act as a gatekeeper for your company and allows you to take timely action on correspondence when needed.
Some of the documents you can expect registered agent services to receive include:
- Tax forms
- Legal documents
- Official government correspondence (ie. annual report)
- Summons (Service of Process) - Notice of a lawsuit
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?
Although you can be your own registered agent, you can also choose someone else, like a business associate or friend. This person simply has to meet the following requirements:
- is 18 years or older
- has a physical address in the state where the business is formed
- is available (in person) during normal business hours
Another option would be to hire a professional registered agent service.
Recommended: Registered agent services offer a number of benefits. To explore your options, check out our Best Registered Agent Services review.
Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?
You will need a registered agent in order to operate an LLC or corporation in most states. Depending on your state, agents may be referred to as resident agents, statutory agents, or agents for service of process.
If you’re operating in multiple states, you’ll likely want to hire professional registered agents just to satisfy having a business address and regular business hours in those locations.
A registered agent service’s cost is typically around $10 per month, making it worth it to hire a national registered agent service — even for small business owners.
There are distinct benefits to using a third-party registered agent, these include:
- Compliance with the Law
- Peace of Mind
Compliance With the Law
Businesses have to meet various deadlines and keep track of corporate documents. A registered agent service helps with both of these tasks by sending regular reminders, sometimes filing documents like annual reports, and keeping copies of documents in case the originals are lost.
Peace of Mind
A registered agent service receives and stores important tax and other legal documents so you can focus on building your business. It also keeps your personal and business mail separate and can answer questions that arise.
A company’s registered agent service is available during normal business hours to receive documents so business entities don’t have to be. Plus, it allows you to form a business entity in another state without having to have a physical address of your own there.
It keeps limited liability companies from receiving legal notices at a home or place of business. In addition, if you have a home-based business, your agent’s information protects your home address’ privacy because their address will be listed in the public record instead of yours.
Best Registered Agent Service - Northwest
Northwest provides one of the best services available for the money. There are no hidden costs or gimmicks, and they provide a full year of services with LLC formation.
Northwest's online document management system and regular compliance alerts make working with them completely seamless. They'll scan and upload all your essential legal documents and mail you physical copies as needed.
Northwest really stands apart for its excellent customer service. The representatives are known for being highly knowledgeable about company formation and business maintenance.
What is a registered agent and why do I need one?
All U.S. states require companies to designate a registered agent to receive official documents. The purpose of a registered agent is to ensure that the government can reach someone at your business during normal business hours.
Can I act as my own registered agent?
You can act as your own registered agent. Generally speaking, anyone who is 18 years of age or older, has a physical address in the state where the company is located, and is available to receive documents during normal business hours qualifies.
Is registered agent the same as owner?
No. A registered agent keeps certain paperwork up to date and accepts official correspondence on behalf of the company, but that role isn’t the same as an owner. However, the individual owner of a business may also act as the company’s registered agent.
Should I pay for a registered agent?
There are several advantages of hiring a service provider, including flexibility, corporate compliance, peace of mind, and privacy.