Updated on: April 18th, 2024

What is a Registered Agent? And How Do I Choose One?

what is a registered agent

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For many people, the term ‘registered agent’ might be a new one, but the explanation can be pretty simple. If you have an LLC, then you need a registered agent. A registered agent is a business or individual that will accept tax and legal documents on your behalf. Depending on what state you have an LLC in, you are likely to be required to have a registered agent. As long as the registered agent meets the state’s criteria, you can even be your LLC’s own registered agent, or have a friend or colleague take up the role.


What does a Registered Agent do?

Essentially, a registered agent is an entity that will act as the main point of contact with the state for your LLC. Usually, you will have to designate a registered agent when you are setting up your LLC. A registered agent can do a few different things.

Primarily, they will receive mail on behalf of your business. This is one of the main services of a registered agent. No matter the size of your business, you should expect them to receive tax forms, legal documents, official governed correspondence and summons as a minimum.

They should also help your business maintain effective corporate compliance by sending annual report filing reminders or other official government notifications. Because of this, you won’t have to deal with legal fees, lawsuits or, worst case scenario, lose your business.

Most registered agent services will also offer the option of forming your LLC for you, which can help if you don’t have the time or energy to file the paperwork required. This affordable, quick and worry-free method of forming an LLC will prevent any mistakes or delays, and you could end up using the company to be your registered agent as well.

How to choose a Registered Agent service?

There are so many different registered agent services out there offering their business, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. To start with, you should look at budget. The price of hiring a registered agent can vary greatly, and if you only have a small budget, this could be the first step towards making your decision.

Another thing to consider is whether they offer the basic features that you will need. As a minimum, they should offer compliance management, such as providing reminders for filing an annual report and other important deadlines. They should also offer thorough coverage, so they provide their service in all 50 states. The customer service team should be reliable, so you can get your questions answered with ease. They must also offer local scanning of all official legal documents, making it easy to access them from your online business account.

Reviews should play a big part in the decision making process when it comes to choosing an LLC. Reviews come from real people, so you can hear first hand about the experience people have had with using different companies. If there are lots of reviews online, you will also be able to tell if they are a well known, big company, or a smaller one that not as many people have used.


Why Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

Privacy

Privacy

Although you will have to pay a third party to be your registered agent, there are many benefits that come with it. Paying for a registered agent service is a good idea if privacy is a big factor for you. The agent’s address is a public record, so if you were your own registered agent and had a home based business, then your address would a be public record. Anyone who wants to contact your business (think tons of junk mail) can find your address. If you hire a registered agent, their address will be on the public record and not yours.


The-job-is-done-right

The job is done right

You will also know that the job will be done right. Registered agent services are trained to do just that, and have been helping businesses for years. They are experienced and professional, and will certainly make sure the important documents will quickly be in the right hands.


Can-be-used-in-multiple-states

Can be used in multiple states

Plus, if you conduct business in more than one state, it can be a lot of hassle to arrange multiple registered agents. If you find the right service, they can your registered agent in multiple states.


No-extra-paperwork

No extra paperwork

For some businesses, the fee to have a registered agent is well worth it purely because they don’t have to track the annual notices and annual report due dates with the state. The registered agent will keep your business in compliance with the state, so you don’t have to, plus all your important documents will all be kept in one, easy to access place.


No-physical-address

No physical address

Some smaller, web based businesses may not even have a physical location, which means no address. If this is the case, a registered agent solves this problem, as official mail from the state can be sent to their address. Some businesses may also operate during odd hours, and hiring a registered agent will solve the problem of always having to be available during business hours.


Peace-of-mind

Peace of mind

By hiring a registered agent to do the work for you, you can focus your time and attention on your business. They will allow you to make your business your number one priority, while also helping you to maintain your work-life balance, so that all your business mail is kept separate from your person. You will also know that the customer service team are always just on the other end of the phone to offer support and guidance if your business runs into any problems or if you have any questions.


Flexibility

Flexibility

One of the key factors of a registered agent is being available at the address provided during business hours, therefore if you are your own registered agent, this ties you down significantly. If you have a designated registered agent, you have more freedom during business hours to keep track of other deadlines or choosing your own working hours.


FAQs About Registered Agent Services

Can I be my own registered agent?

If you are over 18 years of age, have a physical address in the state where business is conducted and be available during business hours, then yes, you can be your own registered agent. It doesn’t have to be you that is the designated registered agent, you could also give the role to another member of your business or a friend that you trust, just as long as they meet the criteria.

See our full guide on if you can be your own Registered Agent.


How much does a registered agent cost?

There is no set price for a registered agent, and the cost can vary greatly depending on what company you go with or if you decide to undertake the process yourself. If you act as your own registered agent, then of course it is free, but if you opt for a third party service, then you could be down a few hundred dollars a year. Although hiring a registered agent is the most costly option, it can save you a lot of stress and hassle along the way, and most people feel as though it is worth the investment.


Who needs a registered agent?

A registered agent is needed for an LLC, a corporation or other formal business. When you file your business formation paperwork with your state, you must name a registered agent. General partnerships and proprietorships don’t need a registered agent. If the address or name of your agent changes, then you must remember to update the state’s records by filling out an additional form.


Why do states require a business to have a registered agent?

The requirement came about as an aspect of due process. If there is a lawsuit against your business, it can’t move forward in court unless the business is first properly notified. That’s where the registered agent comes in. They must have a physical address within the state and be available during business hours so that if someone is suing you, you can easily be found. With a registered agent, the court can contact you easily and efficiently, as the registered agent is the point of contact between your business and the state for service of process.


How do I change my registered agent?

If, for any reason, you decide you want to change your registered agent, either to another service provider, or from an individual to a third party or vice versa, you have to file the paperwork to the Secretary of State. There may be a small filing fee for this process depending on the state where you conduct business. The process of changing registered agent usually varied by state, so it is best to look into state specific requirements.


Does a registered agent file my annual report?

If you would like them to, a registered agent can file your annual report if contracted to do so, however, a registered agent service does not automatically cover annual report filing. This service will more than likely incur an additional cost, with different companies charging different prices.


Is there a difference between a registered agent and a resident agent?

No, there isn’t. Most states call a registered agent by a different name, but they all do the same thing, and all states require one. For example, in Pennsylvania, it is called Certified Registered Officer Provider, while in other states it is a registered agent, resident agent, or sometimes a statutory agent.

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