What is a Registered Agent?

When forming a legal entity such as a limited liability company or a corporation, you must nominate a registered agent. Continue reading below or select your state to go to our state-specific guides.

A businesswoman with an overlaid chart: “Registered Agent Services: privacy, legal compliance, flexibility”

A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business. Think of your registered agent as your business' point of contact with the state.

In some states, a registered agent is also called a statutory or resident agent, or an agent for service of process.

Why do I Need a Registered Agent for my LLC?

A registered agent is required to form your LLC. When filing the articles of organization, every LLC must nominate a registered agent for the company. In addition, the registered agent must have a physical address in the state where your business will be located.

It is possible for a member of your LLC to act as the registered agent for your business. However, a company may not act as its own registered agent.

Can I be my own LLC’s Registered Agent?

Yes, you can elect for yourself, an employee, or a person hired outside of your business to act as your company’s a registered agent.

However, there are a number of reasons to consider hiring a professional service. One reason that it is good to opt for a professional service is the added measure of privacy. If you choose to act as your own registered agent and use your home address as that of your registered agent, your address will be publicly listed for anyone to see. Hiring a professional registered agent service helps avoid potential lapses in privacy resulting from using a personal home address.

Another consideration is that a registered agent must be available at their physical location during all regular business hours, and have an agent available in all states in which the company does business.

Finally, having a registered agent helps avoid any fees or further legal trouble caused by missing or misplacing an important legal document or notice.

What does a Registered Agent Service do?

The typical range of services a Registered Agent provides includes:

  • Receiving Service of Process documents for legal actions (e.g. court documents, state notifications, etc.)
  • Scanning, storing, and sending legal documents via email, with recurring reminders
  • Mailing documents in need of a signature, or as a final reminder
  • Providing compliance calendars for filing information such as annual reports and tax returns

Note that other business mail is not usually handled by a registered agent, though some services may do so for an additional fee.

Why Use a Registered Agent Service?

Having someone else serve as your registered agent comes with many benefits. In this section, we cover the main advantages to using a registered agent service.


A major benefit of using a registered agent service is that it enables you to run your business the way you want. With a registered agent service, you can:

  • Maintain flexible business hours. A registered agent must be available from 9-5 every weekday. By hiring a registered agent service, you can work the hours that work for you.
  • Form an LLC in another state. A registered agent must have a legal residence in the state where the business is formed. Hiring a registered agent service will let you form an LLC in any of the 50 states.
  • Form an LLC in multiple states. If your business plans to have a physical presence in multiple states, you will need to have an appointed registered agent for each state.


Another advantage of hiring a registered agent service is the added layer of privacy. If you choose to be your own registered agent, keep in mind that:

  • A registered agent’s address is available to the public. Your home or business address will be publicly searchable.
  • Lawsuits will be served to the address of the registered agent. In the unfortunate event of a legal dispute, the lawsuit will be served at your place of business in front of your employees.

Compliance With the Law

Registered agent services help businesses stay up to date on requirements with their state and also offer other forms of practical assistance. If you use a registered agent service, they can:

  • Send you regular reminders for state filings. This will ensure that you stay up to date on all your LLC requirements.
  • Assist you in finding state-specific accountants and legal professionals. Most businesses need accounting or legal assistance at some point during their formation.
  • Keep backup copies of your corporate documents. In the 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 provides you with peace of mind, so you can:

  • Focus on running and growing your business. You can know that your important business documents will be received and stored for safekeeping.
  • Keep your business and personal mail separate. This will help prevent your work from overtaking your home life.

How do I Choose the Best Registered Agent Service?

Not all registered agent services are created equal. In addition to having a legitimate office in the state of your LLC, it is suggested to find a registered agent service with the following four 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

Our Recommended Registered Agent Services

Best Value: Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest provides the most comprehensive registered agent services you can get for the price. There's no hidden fees, and no gimmicks. Plus, if you form your Kentucky LLC using Northwest, 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 totally worry-free. They'll scan and upload all your essential legal documents and mail you physical copies as needed.

Registered Agent Service

Best Features: 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 the competitors, such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. If you form an LLC with Incfile, they offer one year of complimentary registered agent service.

As part of your registered agent service Incfile will scan all documents to your online account and also physically mail you important legal documents.

Registered Agent Service

Key Considerations

We stand behind both companies as reliable registered agent services.

Northwest really stands apart for its high quality of customer service. Its service representatives are known for being highly knowledgeable about business formation and business maintenance.

On the other hand, 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.

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If you want to explore all your options, check out this review of the 7 Best Registered Agent Services written by our friends at Startup Savant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I change my Registered Agent?

Yes, your registered agents name and address can be changed at any time. You’ll need to file a change request usually with the Secretary of State and pay a small fee. For example in Michigan you must file the Certificate of Change of Registered Office/Agent form with the Secretary of State and pay a $5 fee.

Who should be the Registered Agent of my LLC?

You can nominate anyone from your company to be the registered agent, even yourself. It should be someone you trust and who is available normal business hours. We do suggest hiring a service especially if you are working out of your home.

See more about this topic above in Can I be my own LLC’s Registered Agent?

What is a Statutory Agent?

A statutory agent is what a registered agent is called in the following states:

  • Ohio
  • Arizona

What is a Resident Agent?

A resident agent, or resident office, is what a registered agent is called in the following states:

  • Michigan
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Kansas

What is an Agent for Service of Process

An agent for service of process is what a registered agent is called in California.