Florida nonprofit organizations will likely need to appoint and retain a registered agent.
A registered agent receives all official paperwork from the State of Florida, they also receive any service of process a business may be served in a lawsuit.
Choosing a registered agent for your 501(c)(3) nonprofit is the second step in our complete guide, How to Start a Nonprofit in Florida.
Recommended: Get a free year of reliable registered agent services when you form your nonprofit with Northwest ($29 plus state fees).
What Is a Florida Registered Agent?
The Florida Not For Profit Corporation Act, Section 617.0501, defines registered agents in the following way:
(1) Each corporation shall have and continuously maintain in this state:
(a) A registered office which may be the same as its principal office; and
(b) A registered agent, who may be either:
- An individual who resides in this state whose business office is identical with such registered office; or
- a. Another domestic entity that is an authorized entity whose business address is identical to the address of the registered office; or
- A foreign entity authorized to transact business in this state that is an authorized entity and whose business address is identical to the address of the registered office.
Putting It Into Practice
A registered agent is someone professional who will serve as your organization’s representative to the Florida Division of Corporations while you operate your business. Some states refer to registered agents as resident agents, statutory agents, or service of process agents.
Your registered agent will typically receive correspondence such as compliance information and tax notifications on behalf of your organization. Registered agents are in charge of accepting what is called service of process. This simply means, if your nonprofit is ever sued, your registered agent will accept the legal summons and documents on your nonprofit’s behalf.
In Florida, the requirements for registered agents include:
- Registered agents can be domestic or foreign individuals or business entities.
- Individuals must be Florida residents that are at least 18 years of age.
- Business entities must be registered to operate in Florida.
- They must have a physical address (not just a P.O. box) in Florida.
- They must always be available at said physical address during regular business hours.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Florida?
Any individual can serve as your nonprofit’s registered agent as long as they meet the requirements listed above. You may choose to act as your nonprofit’s registered agent; you may also select a member of your board of directors or a reliable friend.
If you choose to act as your organization’s registered agent, you must understand how important the position is. If you miss a filing deadline or lose a document, your nonprofit’s compliance status could be at risk and your nonprofit’s corporation status could be revoked by the Division of Corporations.
Many nonprofits and other businesses choose to hire a professional registered agent service to ensure that their nonprofit remains in compliance at all times.
Should My Nonprofit Use a Florida Registered Agent Service?
Before you decide to hire a Florida registered agent service, be sure to consider the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.
You might consider hiring a registered agent service for your nonprofit organization for several reasons. Specifically, this approach can:
- Save You Time: When you first start your Florida nonprofit, you need to focus on doing everything you can to make it successful. Hiring a professional registered agent service will allow you to focus on what’s important while the registered agent takes care of all incoming mail and official notices. In addition, they’ll often remind you of upcoming important filings or deadlines.
- Protect Your Personal Privacy and Your Business’s Reputation: Unfortunately, at some point in time, your organization may face a lawsuit. When you hire a professional registered agent service, all service of process notices will be delivered to a business address. If you act as your own registered agent, law enforcement agents could deliver these notices to your home or your place of work, depending on the address on file.
In addition to protecting your privacy and your business’s reputation, registered agent services are accustomed to receiving and properly handling this legal paperwork. This will help ensure your organization doesn’t lose a lawsuit on a technicality because you forgot to file something on time or you mishandled something due to not knowing how the legal system works.
- Ensure Prompt Handling of Your Business Mail: Because a registered agent service’s primary job is to serve as a registered agent for a number of organizations, you can be sure they’ll address any mail they receive promptly. In addition, they’ll be available during their normal business hours to answer any questions you might have about these documents.
- Keep Your Nonprofit Compliant: You must ensure your nonprofit remains compliant with the requirements set forth by the State of Florida and the federal government (if you successfully apply for 501(c)(3) status). Hiring a registered agent service will help ensure you don’t miss a single filing.
- Offer Convenience: Registered agents are required to be present at their listed address during business hours. That means hiring a registered agent service will allow you to take off work as needed and choose a flexible working schedule if desired.
- Provide National Support: If you think you may want to grow your organization nationally, choose a national registered agent service so it can continue to support you as your business grows.
The only disadvantage of hiring a registered agent service is that it costs money, whereas you could act as your own registered agent for free.
Should I Use a Professional Registered Agent Service?
While hiring a professional registered agent service can be a great idea for several reasons, it becomes essential in some situations. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you should hire a registered agent service for your nonprofit.
- Does your nonprofit keep irregular business hours? As previously noted, your nonprofit’s registered agent must be available at their listed address during standard business hours. If your nonprofit’s operating hours fall outside the standard 9-to-5, you’ll need to hire a registered agent service.
- Do you live out of state? Your nonprofit’s registered agent must be a resident of the state in which your nonprofit is incorporated. If you're not a Florida resident, you’ll need to hire a Florida registered agent to represent your nonprofit.
- Is your nonprofit located in multiple states — or will it be in the future? If your nonprofit currently operates in multiple states — or has plans to do so — you must appoint a registered agent in every state in which it will operate. Because you obviously can’t be in two places at once, it’s essential that you hire a registered agent service.
- Will you operate without a physical address? If you plan to solely operate your nonprofit online, or without a physical address, you won’t have a business address to list on your Articles of Incorporation and other important legal documents. By hiring a professional registered agent service, you can list their agency’s physical address on all documents.
How Do I Choose a Registered Agent in Florida?
For your Florida nonprofit, you must select your registered agent when you file your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation. The Articles of Incorporation is the primary nonprofit formation document in Florida.
Nominating a Registered Agent Online
You can file your nonprofit’s Articles of Incorporation online along with the $70 filing fee through the Florida Sunbiz website. While completing the Articles of Incorporation online, you’ll be able to nominate your nonprofit’s registered agent.
Your registered agent must consent to their appointment by electronically signing the Articles of Incorporation.
Nominating a Registered Agent by Mail
To form your Florida nonprofit by mail, download the Articles of Incorporation form, fill it out in its entirety, and submit the original plus one copy (along with the $70 filing fee) to the Florida Division of Corporations. You will list the registered agent’s name and contact details in section 6.
Your registered agent must consent to their appointment by signing the hard copy Articles of Incorporation.
How Do I Change My Nonprofit’s Registered Agent In Florida?
The Florida Not For Profit Corporation Act Section 617.0502 mandates the following for any change of registered agent by the nonprofit:
(1) A corporation may change its registered office or its registered agent upon filing with the Department of State a statement of change setting forth:
(a) The name of the corporation;
(b) The street address of its current registered office;
(c) If the current registered office is to be changed, the street address of the new registered office;
(d) The name of its current registered agent;
(e) If its current registered agent is to be changed, the name of the new registered agent and the new agent’s written consent (either on the statement or attached to it) to the appointment;
(f) That the street address of its registered office and the street address of the business office of its registered agent, as changed, will be identical; and
(g) That such change was authorized by resolution duly adopted by its board of directors or by an officer of the corporation so authorized by the board of directors.
Putting It Into Practice
To legally change your Florida nonprofit’s registered agent, simply fill out a Statement of Change of Registered Office or Registered Agent form and submit it along with the $35 filing fee to the Florida Division of Corporations.
When working in a nonprofit environment, you have more important things to focus on than checking the mail, filing legal documents, and worrying about remembering compliance deadlines. That’s what a registered agent can do for you. When you hire a professional registered agent service, you can leave these tasks in their capable hands and truly focus on what matters most to your organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can serve as my nonprofit’s registered agent?
In the state of Florida, anyone over 18 can serve as your nonprofit’s registered agent, as long as they are a state resident and available at their listed address during standard business hours during the week. We do, however, recommend all nonprofits utilize a registered agent service.
How much does a Florida nonprofit registered agent cost?
Although using a registered agent service can cost your nonprofit between $50 and $300 per year, it will save you time, money, and stress in the long run.
How much does it cost to change my nonprofit’s registered agent?
Changing your Florida nonprofit’s registered agent with the Division of Corporations costs $35.
What is a statutory agent?
A statutory agent is another name for a registered agent.
What is a resident agent?
A resident agent is another name for a registered agent.
What is a service of process agent?
A service of process agent is another name for a registered agent.
What does “service of process” mean?
Service of process simply means receiving legal documents, such as a court summons. A court summons is a document that requires a representative of your organization to appear before a judge because of a pending lawsuit.
What is the difference between a commercial registered agent and a noncommercial registered agent?
Most states require nonprofit owners to provide their nonprofit’s registered agent’s name and address when forming your nonprofit. In some states, you will be asked whether you are electing a commercial or noncommercial registered agent. Some states refer to professional registered agents as commercial agents and individual agents as noncommercial.