How To Become a Registered Agent
When starting a business, you may incorporate your business in one state, operate in another, and locate in yet a different state. So how can your company be all those places at once? With the help of a registered agent.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is a person or business located in a state representing the company in that state. For example, if a Delaware corporation located in New York were doing business in New Jersey, that company would need a registered agent in each state.
A registered agent is required when you form a corporation or limited liability company (LLC). When filing articles of incorporation for a corporation or articles of organization for an LLC, you include the registered agent's name and address. In addition, if you register to do business in another state, you need a registered agent to represent you there.
The agent is your company contact in that state. They provide a physical office address. Additionally, they receive mail, lawsuits, and legal and tax information for your company.
Who Can Be a Registered Agent?
A person, age 18 or older, or a business located in that state, can serve as a registered agent. However, they must have a physical office address to receive mail. A post office box is not allowed.
The registered agent must be present during business hours to act as the company representative. You can have an employee service as your registered agent. Alternatively, you may use your lawyer or accountant as a registered agent.
If you are forming your own company and reside in that state, you can act as the registered agent. It is convenient, and you don't have to pay a fee to a registered agent.
However, being your own registered agent may not suit you. For example, if you aren't available during regular business hours or aren't willing to accept lawsuits at your place of business.
Commercial Registered Agents
A "commercial registered agent" is a registered agent service company representing hundreds if not thousands of companies. These service companies receive and forward mail and annual franchise tax reports on your behalf for a fee.
You can find many registered agent service companies online. First, however, consider the pros and cons of using a third party as your registered agent. Then, see if a third-party registered agent is best for your business.
What Does a Registered Agent Do?
The primary function of a registered or statutory agent is to represent the corporation or LLC and receive tax, legal, and official correspondence. They also accept service of process, meaning acceptance of lawsuit notifications, for your corporation or LLC.
Other services include:
- Providing a physical address for the corporation or LLC
- Being available during regular business hours for the company
- Accepting service of process for the corporation or LLC
- Forwarding mail, tax, or lawsuit notices to the company
- Filing annual franchise tax reports
How Do You Become a Registered Agent?
If you have a physical address in the state, are 18 years or older, and can act as a company representative, you may serve as a registered agent.
The company lists your name and address on corporate formation filings or registrations with the secretary of state. So now your information is part of a state record. Anyone can search to find out who the registered agent is of a company.
Can You Change Your Registered Agent?
It is easy to change a registered agent if necessary. First, file a Change of Agent form with your secretary of state. Many states allow you to file online. On this form, you include the new registered agent's name and address. Then update any paperwork to reflect the new registered agent's information.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
You can file the corporate formation documents yourself, naming your registered agent and address. However, if you are uncertain about where you may need to file, it is wise to consult a small business attorney.
For example, if you plan to operate in many states, knowing where you need to register to do business is helpful. A lawyer may also know people or companies that may serve as your registered agent.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.