While there are certainly many other significant steps in the business formation process, like picking the perfect business name or acquiring licenses and permits, getting a registered agent is one of the most important phases of forming a business.
You might be surprised by how few legal requirements there are for serving as a registered agent. For example, is there an age requirement for this important role? In this article, we’ll answer this question, along with outlining some other crucial aspects of being a registered agent.
What Is a Registered Agent?
The registered agent is an individual or a business entity that receives important document deliveries from your state government. Then, your agent will inform you of the delivery, scan the forms to create digital backup copies, and forward them to your business location.
The specific documents that your registered agent handles include service of process for lawsuits and compliance reminders for document filings like annual reports, along with tax forms and other docs from your Secretary of State’s office. The registered agent often will help you keep track of deadlines and due dates as well.
You have several options for who can serve as your registered agent. As far as the DIY options go, you can designate yourself as your company’s registered agent, you can recruit a friend or family member to handle it for you, or you can assign the role to one of your employees. If you’re more interested in having a professional take the reins of this position, you could designate your lawyer or accountant, or you can hire a registered agent service.
What Are the Requirements for Registered Agents?
Before we even get started with this section, we’ll point out that each state has its own set of rules and regulations. For an in-depth state-by-state look at registered agent requirements, we suggest that you take a look at your state in our full registered agent requirements article.
Still, there are some general guidelines that apply in at least the majority of states. The following requirements apply to most states, if not all:
- Must have a physical street address in the same state where the business is registered (P.O Boxes are not sufficient)
- Must be present and available at that street address between the hours of 9am and 5pm every weekday, with the only exception being federal holidays
But how about age requirements? Can a person of any age serve as a registered agent, or is this reserved only for adults? As it turns out, this is one of the regulations that varies considerably by state.
There are quite a few states that strictly designate that the job of a registered agent is only for adults 18 years of age or older, like Colorado. However, there are also many states that don’t have any restrictions for registered agent age at all, like Georgia for example.
Even in the states that do have these restrictions, there is usually a loophole for people who aren’t old enough to still serve as a legal registered agent. If that individual is an employee of a business that provides registered agent service, they are allowed to provide that service, even if they don’t meet the state’s age requirement, because that age requirement does not apply to registered agent service companies.
So, is there an age requirement for being a registered agent? Technically, the answer is yes in some states. Practically speaking however, it seems to be exceedingly rare that this would ever be a significant hurdle to designating whoever you want as your registered agent.
What Is a Professional Registered Agent Service?
We mentioned registered agent service companies in the last section, so let’s quickly run down what exactly these companies are.
A professional registered agent service is a company that specializes in this service, meaning they’re true experts in every aspect of being a registered agent. They know the ins and outs of every state regulation, and because they typically operate offices in all 50 states, they can handle any company’s expansion plans with ease.
These companies tend to charge rates that are highly affordable (often $10/month or less), so if this seems like an option you’d be interested in, we encourage you to check out our full article on the best registered agent services. For now though, we’ll give you a sneak peek at a few of our top choices:
- Northwest Registered Agent: Northwest charges $125 per year, and they’re the only major national registered agent service that locally scans every document they receive as your agent. They also have personalized customer support that assigns a dedicated account representative to each client. If you also need to form your business, Northwest offers a $79 formation package that includes a year of registered agent at no extra charge.
- Incfile: They are one of the most well known LLC and registered agent services available, with rates that start at just $119 per year. Plus they offer an awesome free LLC formation service if you haven’t created a business yet and would like a free registered agent service in the process.
- Zen Business: Zen Business has the same $119 base rate that Incfile offers, with an extra focus on making the process less stressful and an easier to use website. You’ll receive their outstanding customer support, as well as access to helpful software that allows you to track and file your company’s annual reports.
Compared to LegalZoom, who charges $299 per year, these three affordable registered agent services are far better deals and more than half the cost.
The requirements for being a registered agent can vary considerably between states. In some states, you need to be at least 18 years old to provide registered agent service, but in others there are no age restrictions.
If you’re under the age of 18 and looking to be a registered agent, we suggest that you check with your state to see if you’re eligible, and/or seek employment with a company that offers professional registered agent service.