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A registered agent is an individual or company that receives service of process, legal documents and official notices on behalf of a business. Typically, businesses cannot act as their own registered agents.

Choosing the right professional registered agent is crucial to protect your business. Ideally, you want a team dedicated to keeping your data private and promptly relaying lawsuits or important documents.

What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is an individual or business that receives legal and tax documents on behalf of a business entity. State law requires that all domestic and foreign corporations, LLCs, and other business entities register a person or business to serve as their registered agent. The individual or business must have a physical address in the state of registration and be available during standard business hours to receive service of process. The registered agent must also have a name that is the same as that of the business entity.

While you can appoint yourself, an employee, or another person in your business as your registered agent, many people choose to hire a professional registered agent service. Choosing an outside company to serve as your registered agent will ensure that you don’t miss important and time-sensitive paperwork and notifications from the government or courts. The registered agent will receive and forward your legal documents and notify you of any upcoming deadlines or actions that you need to take.

Why Do I Need a Registered Agent?

Most states require that businesses, corporations and LLCs designate and maintain a registered agent. Individuals and businesses can be their own registered agents, but it’s best to use a reliable service company.

When you appoint an individual to be your agent, that person is responsible for accepting service of process, official government notices and any other correspondence on behalf of your business. If the person isn’t available, it could lead to lost documents or missed notifications of pending deadlines or action needed by your business.

Using a professional service provides consistency, privacy and the knowledge that they are an experienced registered agent with the ability to forward important documents to your business. Many registered agent services also offer additional legal support for your business, making them an ideal choice to help you stay in compliance. For a fast, accurate and convenient registered agent that you can trust, check out Northwest Registered Agent, a New York-based registered agent with more than 3,000 positive customer reviews!

What Are the Requirements to Be a Registered Agent?

Professional registered agents focus on keeping up with industry rules and requirements. This saves time for business owners, who can then spend more energy and resources growing their company. It also helps them avoid errors or missed notices, which could have major implications for a business.

Individuals, family members, or even employees may be eligible to serve as a registered agent for an active company, as long as they meet the state’s requirements. However, many businesses prefer to use a registered agent service provider. They’re more reliable and have a team dedicated to this task. They’re also available to accept service of process and other important documents during business hours, versus the privacy risk of having them served in front of customers or employees.

For companies that operate in multiple states, a registered agent service that offers nationwide services can simplify compliance with state requirements. This can reduce the cost of hiring a registered agent in each new state and make it easier to keep track of renewals.

How Can I Find a Registered Agent?

In general, state business laws require formal business entities like corporations and LLCs to appoint and maintain a registered agent. They also require that anyone registering an entity for business purposes provide a physical address.

You can choose to designate yourself or someone in your business as your registered agent, provided that you meet any state-specific requirements for that role (such as being available during normal business hours at the statutory address). However, this method often proves impractical and time-consuming for active business owners.

Instead, you can hire a commercial registered agent service. These companies receive legal, tax and government correspondence on behalf of businesses and individuals and then forward them to the proper parties. Many of these services are cheaper and easier to use than appointing an employee or yourself as your own registered agent. We recommend Northwest Registered Agent, which has a competitive price point and US-based customer support that’s polite and helpful.

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