What Is a Registered Agent?

Most states require businesses to designate and maintain a registered agent. This person or service receives official papers such as lawsuits (what lawyers call “service of process”), business registration renewal notices from the state, and tax notifications on behalf of a company.

Appointing yourself or someone within your active company to serve as the registered agent may seem simple, but it’s a very important responsibility and one that requires your attention.

What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is an individual or business that receives service of process, legal documents and official notices on behalf of a company. In the United States, all formal business entities (LLCs and corporations) are required to have a registered agent when they file their formation paperwork with the state.

A good registered agent is reliable and always available at the physical address they have listed on file with the state (P.O. boxes aren’t acceptable). They also need to be open during normal business hours so hand-delivered legal documents can be received.

A professional registered agent is an excellent choice for businesses that operate in multiple states or want consistency and convenience. They focus on this aspect of the law and keep up with state requirements, so you don’t have to. They also make renewing their services easy and fast. You can also find one that provides nationwide service for an additional fee. If you choose to go this route, they will typically have a form you can submit online for each state.

Why Do I Need a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is required by state law to receive service of process notices and official government correspondence. This is to ensure that any lawsuits against a company or its directors are addressed promptly. A registered agent can be an individual or business. Most companies choose to use a commercial registered agent service for its convenience, turnaround time, and expertise.

A professional registered agent also protects a business’ privacy. It is unlikely that the company will be served in front of customers or employees, which could cause unwanted gossip and speculation about the business.

A registered agent can also be helpful if the company plans on doing business in multiple states. It is important to designate an address in each state, and a company that provides registered agent services can make this task much easier for the business. This will prevent the company from missing important filing deadlines, which could lead to fines for noncompliance.

How Do I Designate a Registered Agent?

Most states require that active companies (LLCs, C corporations, and other entity types) appoint a registered agent. That person or company receives legal documents and government correspondence on behalf of the business, then promptly relays those documents to the actual business owner. It’s important that the person or service you choose is reliable and able to accept important legal documents during regular business hours.

You can designate yourself or an employee as your registered agent, but that may be embarrassing if a lawsuit is served in front of customers or co-workers. Also, the address becomes public record and could be viewed by anyone, including competitors or vindictive individuals.

A professional registered agent service, like CT Corporation, can protect your privacy while ensuring that legal documents and time-sensitive compliance correspondence are delivered properly and promptly. They also provide state-specific reminders and help you stay in compliance with all registration renewal requirements. Plus, they can provide nationwide service for businesses that are expanding into multiple states.

Who Can Be My Registered Agent?

Your registered agent can be an individual or a business. The person or company must be located in the state where your business is registered and have a physical street address (P.O. boxes are not acceptable). Most states require that your registered agent is available during normal business hours to accept service of process and mail on behalf of your company. You can find more information about specific requirements by contacting your state’s business filing agency.

If you choose to be your own registered agent, keep in mind that your personal information is public record and that your business address may be shared with customers or colleagues. A professional registered agent service can help you maintain privacy while also reducing clutter, with many offering the option to digitally scan documents and forward them to you immediately.

Regardless of who you select, make sure they have a good track record and are capable of handling the tasks involved. Many registered agent services are certified to handle various types of legal documentation in all 50 states and can simplify your compliance needs.

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