WHAT IS A REGISTERED AGENT?

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

Most states require you to appoint a registered agent when you form a limited liability company (LLC). To learn more, visit our state-specific guides by choosing your state from the dropdown menu below.

Hiring a registered agent service offers a number of benefits. If you want to explore options, check out this review of the 7 Best Registered Agent Services written by our friends at Startup Savant.


What Does a Registered Agent Do?

A woman with a graphic overlaid. Registered Agent Services. Privacy, Legal Compliance, Flexibility

An LLC registered agent will primarily act as your limited liability company’s main point of contact with the state. You can expect your registered agent to receive things like tax notifications and compliance information.

Registered agents also accept service of process. That is, if your limited liability company is sued, your registered agent will accept the service of process documents on your LLC’s behalf.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

It is possible to be your own registered agent. You could also choose to elect a member of your LLC, or even a friend you trust, as long as the person meets these requirements:

  • is 18 years or older
  • has a physical address in the state where business is conducted
  • is available (in person) during normal business hours

Another option would be to hire a professional registered agent service. One of the disadvantages is that it is more expensive than acting as your own.

However, using a registered agent service helps you avoid any fees or further legal trouble caused by missing or misplacing an important document or notice. This can actually save you more time and money in the long run.

Learn more about who can be a registered agent here.

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

Having someone else serve as your registered agent has its benefits. In this section, we cover the major advantages of using an affordable, national registered agent service provider like ZenBusiness or Incfile. Learn more about the benefits here.

COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW

Registered agent services help businesses stay up-to-date on state requirements by sending regular reminders for filings. As a result, you won’t have to deal with legal fees and penalties--or worse, lose your business altogether. If you use a professional service, they can:

  • Help you find state-specific accountants and legal professionals. Most businesses need accounting or legal assistance at some point during their formation.
  • Keep copies of your corporate documents. In case of theft, natural disaster, or other unexpected losses, you will have a backup of all your important business papers.

PEACE OF MIND

A registered agent service gives you peace of mind so you can focus your time, energy, and attention on running your business. Here’s what a professional service can do to ease your stress:

  • Make growing your business the number one priority. Important LLC documents will be automatically received and stored for safekeeping.
  • Help maintain your work-life balance. Business and personal mail are kept separate, preventing your work from overtaking your home life.
  • Offer personal guidance. You have additional support if your business runs into a problem or if any questions arise.

FLEXIBILITY

If you choose to act as your own registered agent, you will need to be available to receive official notices during standard business hours at the address you provide. A registered agent service gives you the flexibility to focus on your business instead of keeping track of deadlines and being available during business hours.

With a registered agent service, you can:

  • Maintain flexible business hours. A registered agent must be available from 8-5 every weekday. By hiring a registered agent service, you can choose your own hours.
  • Form an LLC in another state. A registered agent must have a legal residence in the state where the business is formed. Hiring a national registered agent service will let you form an LLC in any of the 50 states.
  • Form an LLC in multiple states. If you set up your business to have a physical presence in multiple states, you will need to have an appointed registered agent for each state.

PRIVACY

We all value our privacy. Your registered agent service’s address will be listed on the public record— not your personal or office address. This is especially important to consider if your business operates out of your home. A registered agent service will maintain your privacy by:

  • Preventing you from being served with a lawsuit in person. You don’t want to get served in front of your family, employees, or worse, your customers.
  • Having their address public instead of yours. As a result, you’re less likely to receive unsolicited mail.

What is the Best 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

RECOMMENDED SERVICES

ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness provides the most comprehensive registered agent services you can get for the price. They are also up-front about offering premium features like their worry-free guarantee, a service in which they file your company's annual report and other compliance documentation.

Other companies offer this under different names, typically buried in their dashboards, and for significantly higher fees. With ZenBusiness, there are no hidden costs or gimmicks. Plus, they'll include a full year of registered agent services with LLC formation.

ZenBusiness'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.

ZenBusiness 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



Starting at $99 Annually
(for those who already have an LLC)

LLC Formation + 1yr Included Registered Agent Service


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

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)

LLC Formation + 1yr Free Registered Agent Service


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

How Do I Change My Registered Agent?

You can easily change your registered agent service by filling out the proper form provided by your state's business services office. There may be a nominal fee depending on your state.

When filing your new registered agent, make sure to submit your new registered agent’s signed consent form if applicable. This step may vary by state. For more information, you can visit our state specific registered agent guides.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 to handle this portion of your business needs.

How much does an LLC registered agent cost?

Finding a reliable registered agent is important to protect your business. A registered agent service can sometimes cost anywhere from $50 to $300, but hiring a registered agent service will save you time and money in the long run.

How do I change my registered agent?

You can easily change your registered agent service by filling out the proper form provided by your Secretary of State Business Services Office either online or by mail. There may be a nominal fee depending on your state.

When electing your new registered agent, make sure to submit your new registered agent’s signed consent form if applicable. This step may vary by state and depends on who you choose to be your registered agent.

How much does it cost to change my registered agent?

Changing your registered agent can cost from $0 to $5 per state depending on the number of states you’re registered to do business with your LLC.

How to find a registered agent?

We can help you find a reputable registered agent if you’re unsure who to choose. We recommend ZenBusiness because they offer expertise, reliability, and a good price.

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 happens if I don’t maintain a registered agent?

If you fail to appoint a registered agent or maintain your current one, there are several negative consequences. Your business can suffer penalties and fines, lose good standing with the state, and eventually have to completely shut down.

What is the difference between a commercial and noncommercial registered agent?

You will usually be required to provide your 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 professional registered agent as commercial agents and individual agents as non-commercial.

Do registered agent requirements vary by state?

Yes. While general requirements for registered agents are the same (having a physical address in the state and being available during normal business hours), some states have specific requirements. You can select your state below to read its individual registered agent guide.

 

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