Registered Agent Fundamentals: Here's What You Need to Know
So you've made the decision to form a corporation or LLC? Congratulations! One of the first things you'll need in the formation process is a registered agent.
What is a registered agent?
A registered agent, or agent for service of process, helps to ensure your business maintains compliance. It is the state's way of communicating with a corporation or LLC. This agent also receives legal and tax documents on behalf of a business or corporation, such as notifications from the Secretary of State, government notices, tax forms, notifications of lawsuits, and other materials.
Why do you need one?
- It gives you freedom. With a registered agent, if you are located in the state where your business is registered, you won't need to worry about updating the state if you move. Plus, this agent must be available during normal business hours. If your company doesn't follow the traditional 9-to-5 work day, an agent can fill the time for you.
- It's the law. If you are incorporated in one state (for example, Delaware), but physically located in another state, you need a registered agent. Why? Each state requires corporations and LLCs formed within their borders to have an agent with a physical address located in that state where legal documents can be delivered during business hours. And P.O. boxes are not acceptable addresses.
- It's your right. A corporation or LLC has certain legal rights, including the right to due process. And a key component of due process is the right to be given state compliance notices in a timely fashion. An agent ensures your ability to receive information, such as wage garnishments, subpoenas, and court summons.
- You'll stay informed and on time. You'll never miss an important notification. Third-party registered agent services will receive all communications on your behalf, so you don't have to worry about tax forms, legal notices, and other business compliance documents getting lost in the shuffle.
How should you choose a registered agent?
Individuals can act as a registered agent, but we recommend using an experienced service provider–like incorporate.com. Why? We're in the business of business compliance, and we're in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Plus, incorporate.com offers CSCNavigator®, a state-of-the-art online online tool that provides you with alerts when filings are due, a calendar of required filings, order status and related documents, the ability to view and pay invoices, current business standing with the state, and more.
A third-party registered agent also offers:
- Reliability. We'll remind you of important deadlines and complete the paperwork for you. And we're available during all business hours, so you're free to attend meetings, travel for work, go on vacation, or even just eat lunch outside of your office.
- Economy. When you partner with incorporate.com, you eliminate the need to pay an employee just to wait for documents from the state. With us, you will be covered 24/7. And our rates are competitive compared to other established registered agents.
- Discretion. When you use incorporate.com for your registered agent services, you'll never run the risk of your customers, vendors, or neighbors seeing a process server deliver legal documents to your place of business or home.
The bottom line? Using an experienced third party, like incorporate.com, to serve as your agent will give you peace of mind. And that's priceless.
Registered Agent FAQs
- What is a Registered Agent?
- What is service of process?
- Can I be my own Registered Agent?
- What will incorporate.com do as my Registered Agent?
What is a Registered Agent?
Corporations and LLCs must designate someone to receive official state correspondence and legal notices, called service of process. Most states refer to this delegate as a "Registered Agent." Some states also use the terms "statutory agent" or "resident agent."
In most states, a Registered Agent must:
- Remain available during normal business hours to receive legal documents
- Maintain a physical address located in the state where the business is registered
- List their name and address in public records
- Promptly forward state correspondence and legal notices to the business
Many business owners opt to use a third-party Registered Agent service like incorporate.com to avoid any inconvenience and protect their privacy. For instance, can you guarantee that you will never leave that address during business hours? Do you want a process server or sheriff to deliver your legal documents in front of your customers or neighbors?
Trust incorporate.com as your Statutory Agent to receive and forward your legal notices discreetly, promptly, and affordably.Back to Top
What is service of process?
"Service of process" might sound like a complicated legal term that applies only to large businesses, when in fact, it affects businesses of all sizes:
- "Service" refers to the delivery of legal documents. Types of service might include mail, fax, e-mail, or personal delivery.
- "Process" refers to legal documents. Companies normally think of documents related to a lawsuit, like a summons or complaint, as "process." However, process also includes wage garnishments, subpoenas for records, official state correspondence, and other requests common in the course of business.
Together, the words "service of process" simply mean the delivery of legal documents. All states require corporations and LLCs formed in that state to maintain an address in that state for service of process, usually known as the registered address.
Failure to respond to certain correspondence from the state can result in the suspension or termination of your company. Failure to respond to a legal notice can result in a default judgment against your company, which means that a party that has sued your company can receive the relief it was seeking without the court ever hearing your side of the argument.Back to Top
Can I be my own Registered Agent?
Generally, a company may appoint an individual from that company to serve as its registered agent. However in order to do so, the individual must:
- Remain available during normal business hours
- Maintain a physical registered office address located in the state where the business registered and any states where the company is doing business
- List his or her name and address in public records
For the sake of privacy and convenience, the majority of businesses choose to appoint a third-party Registered Agent like incorporate.com to handle service of process.Back to Top
What will incorporate.com do as my Registered Agent?
As the Registered Agent for your LLC or corporation, we will receive and forward legal documents and state notices on your company's behalf. We maintain a nationwide network of offices to receive legal documents during normal business hours. When we receive legal documents on behalf of your business, we will summarize the vital information on a cover sheet and forward the paperwork to you promptly.Back to Top