Last Updated: February 16, 2024, 1:55 pm by TRUiC Team

The Essential Guide to Understanding Registered Agents

Ch2. 03

The role of a registered agent is crucial when starting a new business and filing formation documents with the state. Learn about the functions of a registered agent, whether you need to hire one, or if you can do it yourself, in this comprehensive guide.

This video is part of the free Small Business Startup Course designed to help walk you through the entire process of business formation from idea to launch. 

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Tools & Resources

How to Start an LLC Icon

Get the Full Course

Create your free Business Center account to get access to the complete Small Business Startup Course and all the worksheets.

How to Start an LLC Call to Action Get Started Now Get Started Now


  • Best LLC Formation Service: Northwest (1st year of registered agent services included!)


Why Does Your LLC Need a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of your business. They form the primary contact point for your LLC and must possess a physical address in your business state. They handle papers served during a lawsuit or judgment and ensure you're notified of state-required filings, such as annual reports.

The Essential Guide to Understanding Registered Agents – Transcript

When you start a new business, and you’re filing formation documents with the state, one of the questions you’re going to have to answer is, “Who is your registered agent?” If the term “registered agent,” your state might ask for a “resident agent,” “registered officer,” “statutory agent,” or “agent for service of process.” All of these names refer to the same thing. 

But the question remains: what is a registered agent? What do they do? Do you need to hire one, or can you do it yourself? Watch this video to find out everything you need to know about your LLC’s registered agent.

Hey everybody, Will Scheren here from Small Business Startup Guide by TRUiC. This video is part of a larger course dedicated to helping small business owners cut through the noise and get to the essentials of starting and operating their business. If that sounds like it would be really useful to you, be sure to like and subscribe. 

After you’ve filed your formation paperwork, which we’ll be showing you how to do later in this section of the course, your business will be treated as a distinct legal entity. In addition to professional credibility, this distinction is what gives you, as the owner, the limited liability protection that is the namesake of the LLC. Because your LLC is distinct from you, it has requirements for how it should interact with the state governments and communicate with legal representatives of the legal world, like lawyers and debt collectors, for example. 

And for these people to get in contact with your business, it’s not as simple as just having a mailing address. An LLC must assign the responsibilities of receiving mail and other communications to a registered agent. 

Simply put, a registered agent is responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of your business. The registered agent is your LLC’s main point of contact, and because of this, they must have a physical address in the state where you’re doing business. They’ll receive papers served in the event of a lawsuit or judgment, and it’s their responsibility to notify you of state-required filings such as annual reports.

Now that you know what a registered agent is, how do you decide who you should designate for this role? There’s two options when choosing a registered agent: you can either assign the role to an individual or a state-qualified corporate agent. Let’s look at the individual option first.

If you choose an individual to be your registered agent, you can choose a member of the business or a manager of the business, or actually any individual at all as long as they live in the state where you’re registering in. This individual, it must be said, can also be you. In the case of a single-member LLC, for example, that same single member can also be the registered agent. 

To qualify, however, you’ll need to have a physical address in the state where you conduct business. A P.O. box will not suffice as an individual registered agent’s address. An individual registered agent should also be aware that their name and address will become a matter of public record, and they can easily be found by anyone who’s researching the company. They also should be aware that they need to be available at all regular business hours to receive mail and official papers, which means they need to be at the registered physical address from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, every week of the year. 

The main advantage to being your own registered agent is price. A registered agent service will cost you between $50 and $150 a year, while being your own registered agent is free. 

Let’s look at the second option now — hiring a corporate registered agent — and consider the advantages of a professional service solution. If you decide to pay a service fee, here’s what the professional service offers over doing it yourself: 

Privacy — if you’re your own registered agent, your address will be listed publicly for everyone to see. A service allows for greater anonymity and keeps your personal and business addresses separate.

Availability — a registered agent must be available at their location during all business hours. They must also be located in all states that the company does business. Hiring a service allows you to work where and when you would like.

Organization — having a registered agent service allows you to avoid any fees or legal trouble caused by misplacing an important legal document or notice. They assist your LLC’s compliance with the law so you can stay focused on running and operating your business.

Given the two options, we recommend hiring a service. The fees are fairly modest, and if you value privacy, flexibility, and organizational assistance, it is easily worth the cost. 

If you’re running a small business, you want to focus as much of your limited resources as possible in growing your business. Having professional administrative help, increasing your flexibility, and limiting your exposure to junk mail and other abuses of public information can only help your bottom line.

When it comes to selecting a registered agent company for your business, we recommend working with Northwest Registered Agent, as they’re inexpensive and they provide excellent service. We’ve provided a link below this video where you can get a discount to their services.

At TRUiC our mission is to offer all our resources and information for free - but we support our work by using affiliate links, meaning we earn a commission on many of the amazing deals we’ve negotiated for you. Full transparency, Northwest is one such affiliate partner. Link in description below.

Once you’ve selected a registered agent, discussed ownership and responsibilities amongst the owners of your organization, selected a lawyer and an accountant for your business, and decided the legal business entity that you would like to form your business as, you’ll be ready to start compiling the legal business documents that you need to turn your business idea into a reality, which is what we’ll be talking about in the next video in the course.

This video is part of a step-by-step course that gives business owners all of the essential information for starting and operating their business. We've provided a link below this video for you to get access to all of the free and discounted business tools that we mention in this course. 

Be sure to like and subscribe to get more of this content. We'll see you in the next section of the course, and if you have any questions, let us know.