The role of a registered agent (sometimes known as a statutory agent or resident agent), in the form of an individual or resident agent service, is required in all states. However, the requirements and duties of this agent differ from state to state.
We’ve created an educational resource to help you understand what is required of this role for your business in the state(s) you are operating in. This page was created as a convenient tool to save you added time, effort, and stress as you prepare to open or expand your business in the United States.
Select your state to find out what your state says about its registered agent requirements.
Choose Your State To Learn More
Registered Agent Reading
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is an individual or a business entity that has a physical address in the state you’re doing business in.
A crucial part of this role is to be present at this location during all standard business hours, because the registered agent needs to be available to receive document deliveries from your state government. For example, if someone files a lawsuit against your business, the service of process documents would be dropped with your registered agent, who would quickly notify you of this legal action.
Is a Registered Agent Required by Law?
Every state legally requires a new LLC to designate a registered agent, with no exceptions. While there are nuances to the laws depending on which state your business is based in, you cannot legally operate without one.
If you fail to comply, you may be fined or sanctioned, or the state may even dissolve your business. In addition, as we mentioned before, if you haven’t formed your business yet, you won’t be allowed to until you get a registered agent.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?
You are legally allowed to serve as your own registered agent, but we tend to caution against it in most cases. While you can save some money by designating yourself for the role of registered agent, you will have to follow a strict set of rules and regulations that can hamstring your company’s chances of success.
We’ll dive further into these responsibilities in the next section, but just for a brief rundown, if you serve as your own registered agent, you’ll need to do at least some of the following things:
- Only do business in your home state
- Be available at your place of business from 9am-5pm every weekday
- Get served for a lawsuit in front of your clients or employees
- Enter your home address into the public record
In short, it’s usually just not worth the small amount of money you can save by serving as your own registered agent.
How to Designate Yourself as Registered Agent
Designating yourself as your company’s registered agent is a simple process. First, you’ll need to fill out your own information when asked to provide registered agent info in your articles of organization.
Of course, you’re only eligible to do so if you have a physical street address within the same state your business operates in. Just enter your own name and address in this space, and you’re ready to go.
Once your business is formed, you’ll need to be present and available to receive document deliveries every weekday during standard business hours. If you’re not present, you run the risk of missing a service of process delivery. This could result in a lawsuit progressing against your business without your knowledge.
If your business is already formed, and you want to replace your current registered agent with yourself, the process looks a little bit different. In this scenario, you’ll need to file what’s usually called a “statement of change of registered agent” form. Just like with forming a new business, you’ll need to enter your own name and address on this form to become your own registered agent.
Keep in mind that we do not typically advise that you serve as your own registered agent. In addition to needing to be present at your listed location during all standard business hours, serving as your own agent means that your address will become part of the public record.
You’re also likely to receive much more junk mail than you ever have before. Especially considering how low-cost many of these services like ZenBusiness and Northwest are, we strongly recommend hiring one instead of being your own agent.
What Is a Registered Agent Service?
One of the most popular options for outsourcing this role is to hire a registered agent service, which is a company that acts as the registered agent for many different businesses.
Most major registered agent services have offices in all 50 states, meaning this option keeps the door wide open for potential business expansions into additional states.
Fun Fact: Many registered agent services can help you form an LLC.
Typically, pricing for this service starts around $100 per year, although there are some companies that charge annual fees upwards of $300.
Most registered agent services will perform numerous duties, such as:
- Acting as the official point of contact for your business for correspondence regarding legal matters.
- Providing their address as the publicly available address for state agencies to send important business documents.
- Immediately forwarding important documents like tax bills or legal summons to you.
- Reminding you of important deadlines for yearly compliance-related paperwork.
Do you need some more information about registered agents? You’re in the right place! We have tons of resources available on this site regarding many different aspects of registered agents.
We will mention though that most of the issues covered in the following articles are things you’ll never have to worry about if you simply hire a registered agent service instead of trying to DIY this important requirement.