What is Service of Process for an LLC?

woman frowning after being served with a lawsuit

Service of process is the action of informing an individual or entity that there's a pending lawsuit against him or her, or in this case, against one's company.

This notice, also known as a summons, is presented to the individual or entity being sued. A summons is an official legal document that’s brought before a judge or magistrate.


Registered Agents and Service of Process

The person you appoint as your company’s registered agent will be responsible for accepting service of process. It is then his or her responsibility to receive the service of process in person and take action toward a legal resolution.

If you decide to be your own LLC’s registered agent, these documents will be brought directly to your home or place of business depending on which address you choose to provide.

To learn more about the role of a registered agent, visit our What is a Registered Agent article.

Hiring a Registered Agent to Accept Service of Process

Another option is to hire an experienced registered agent service (commercial registered agent) to guide you through the process.

Receiving a summons can be intimidating and worrisome. A commercial registered agent will be available throughout the week during regular business hours so you won’t have to receive the summons yourself.

If you’re considering hiring a registered agent service, take a look at some of our top-rated options below to see which would work best for you.

How to Choose a Registered Agent Service

In addition to having a legitimate office in the state of your LLC, we encourage you to find a national registered agent service with the following features:

  • Compliance management: reminders for filing annual reports and other important deadlines
  • Document management: local scanning of all official documents so you can access them from your online account
  • Availability: a reliable customer service team who can answer any questions you may have
  • Thorough coverage: the ability to provide registered agent services in all 50 states

For detailed reviews of registered agent services, visit the Top 7 Best Registered Agent Services article by our friends over at Startup Savant.

Recommended Services

ZenBusiness Registered Agent

ZenBusiness provides the most comprehensive registered agent services you can get for the price. Not only is their service included with an LLC formation, but their fee is only $99 annually after the first year.

The Complete Registered Agent plan includes ZenBusiness’s Worry Free Compliance Guarantee. This feature includes annual filing report alerts, documents submitted on your behalf, two free changes to your filings per year, and it covers the costs required to regain good standing if your company should miss a deadline.

Additionally, ZenBusiness offers a user-friendly, intuitive dashboard for all their services. You can keep track of important business documents in real time for convenience.

Registered Agent Service

$99 Annual 
(for those who already have an LLC)

Get Started

ZenBusiness Logo

LLC Formation + 1yr Free Registered Agent Service

$49 + State Fees 
(Registered Agent: $99 after 1st year)

Get Started

ZenBusiness Logo

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest offers high-quality registered agent services. There are no hidden fees or gimmicks. Plus, they'll include a full year of registered agent services for free.

Northwest's online document management system and regular compliance alerts make working with them completely worry-free. 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 business formation and business maintenance.

Registered Agent Service

$125 Annually
(for those who already have an LLC)

GET STARTED

Northwest Registered Agent LLC Logo

LLC Formation + 1yr Free Registered Agent Service

$49 + State Fees
(Registered Agent $125 after 1st year)

GET STARTED

Northwest Registered Agent LLC Logo

Incfile Registered Agent

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Incfile has been helping entrepreneurs since 2004. They have established a reputation for providing high-quality services for a lower cost than competitors such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer.

If you form an LLC with Incfile, they offer a free year of registered agent services. As part of the service, Incfile will scan all documents to your online account and physically mail you important legal documents.

Incfile's expanded menu of extra options is particularly suited for entrepreneurs who desire additional features like banking offers, business contract templates, business website offers, and other physical items such as a corporate seal.

Registered Agent Service

$119 Annual
(for those who already have an LLC)

Get Started

incfile.com logo

LLC Formation + 1 Year Free Registered Agent Service

$49 + State Fees
(Registered Agent: $119 after 1st year)

Get Started

incfile.com logo

Key Considerations

  • Remember that service of process means the same as receiving a summons and being “served papers.”
  • Make sure you’re clear about who your registered agent is and the address you will use when you file.
  • Legally, a summons can be delivered if you’re not available or at the given address even if you’ve moved.
  • The person who will be receiving service of process for your LLC will be the assigned registered agent (you, a member or manager of your LLC, or a registered agent service).
  • If you chose to be your own registered agent and are being served papers, we recommend contacting an attorney. You should also talk to your attorney if you have any further legal questions relating to your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is a person or business who receives and sends legal documents on your LLC’s behalf. In some states, a registered agent is called a statutory agent, resident agent, or an agent for service of process.

Most states require that you appoint a registered agent when you form a limited liability company (LLC). To learn more about your state’s requirements, visit our state-specific guides.

Who can be a registered agent?

Anyone can be a registered agent as long as the assigned person or entity is available on weekdays, during regular business hours (8 am- 5 pm), and at the given registered agent address. This is important in case of a lawsuit and to remain compliant with legal forms and deadlines.

Although you can be your own registered agent, we recommend you consider hiring an experienced and reliable registered agent service like ZenBusiness, Incfile, or Northwest to handle this portion of your business needs.

How much does an LLC registered agent cost?

A registered agent service can cost anywhere from $50 to $300, but hiring a registered agent service will save you time and money in the long-run.

How much does it cost to change my registered agent?

Changing your registered agent can cost from $0 to $50 per state depending on the number of states you’re registered in to do business with your LLC.

What is a statutory agent?

A statutory agent is another name for a registered agent, a process of service agent, or a resident agent. Although most states use the name registered agent, different states use different titles.

What is a resident agent?

A resident agent is another name for a registered agent, a process of service agent, or a statutory agent. Although most states use the name registered agent, different states use different titles.

What is a service of process agent?

A service of process agent is another name for a registered agent, a resident agent, or a statutory agent. Although most states use the name registered agent, some states use different titles.

What does “service of process” mean?

Service of process means receiving legal documents, such as a summons. A summons is an order to appear before a judge due to a pending lawsuit.

What is a commercial vs. non-commercial registered agent?

Most states require LLC owners to provide their LLC’s registered agent’s name and address when forming your LLC. In some states, you will be asked whether you are electing a commercial or non-commercial registered agent. Some states refer to the professional registered agent as commercial agents and individual agents as non-commercial.