Everything You Need to Know to Find a Registered Agent

Everything You Need to Know to Find a Registered Agent

Everything You Need to Know to Find a Registered Agent

  • A registered agent is someone that a business (like an LLC or corporation) designates to accept legal and government notices, such as service of process, tax notices, or demands.
  • In many states, you can be your own registered agent, but there are many reasons why you might choose someone else to take on the role.
  • Learn more about finding a registered agent in this article from Nav’s experts.

What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is a person or company designated by a business entity to serve as their official contact person and receive legal and government notices for them. When you form a business entity, such as a limited liability company (LLC), C Corp, S Corp, partnership, or nonprofit, you’re required to choose a registered agent with a physical address in your state. 

This person will receive any documents sent to your business in an official capacity, like:

  • Service of process (lawsuits or other legal documents)
  • Subpoenas
  • Court summonses
  • Legal notices
  • Tax documents from the IRS
  • Court filing notifications
  • Government documents from the secretary of state
  • Wage garnishment notices if you have to withhold a portion of your employees’ wages 

Because they have to be able to receive these documents and notices physically, a registered agent must have a physical office address, not a P.O. Box. 

Why Do I Need a Registered Agent?

Assigning a registered agent is part of the business formation process that helps you in several ways. In most states, you must select a registered agent when you apply for incorporation or file your formation documents. In many states, you can be your own registered agent, but there are several good reasons to choose someone else to represent your company.

First, a registered agent must be available during normal business hours — usually between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday, all year round except major federal holidays. If you ever plan to take a vacation, you’ll want someone else to be able to receive important documents when you’re away. 

Another good reason to get a registered agent is to protect your privacy. The registered agent’s address will serve as your business address, and all registered agent information, including contact information like phone number and street address, is a matter of public record. If you work out of your home or don’t have your own business office location, you can keep your home address private by choosing a registered agent. 

A registered agent may also be able to help you with other business services, such as business registration and other business filings, managing your annual report, filing taxes, and helping you register a business name, doing business as (DBA), or a fictitious name (including searching to make sure your company name is available).. Having a professional registered agent company can help keep your small business in good standing by making sure you’re meeting all the annual legal requirements for maintaining company registration in your state. 

Who Can Act As a Registered Agent?

In order to act as a registered agent, a person or company must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a physical address or registered office in the state where they are registered
  • Keep regular office hours from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday

A corporation or LLC is not allowed to serve as its own registered agent, although members of the staff or business owners can — at least in most states. Check with your state’s secretary of state (SOS) to learn more. 

Almost anyone can be a registered agent as long as they meet those requirements. You may choose some of the following types of people to serve as your LLC registered agent:

  • Business owner who lives in the state where your business is registered
  • Employee who lives in-state
  • Friends or relatives in your state
  • A registered agent service
  • A law firm or attorney
  • A certified public accountant (CPA) or firm
  • A tax preparer or service

How to Choose a Registered Agent

Choosing a registered agent can appear difficult, but it’s relatively straightforward. If you have a business accountant or lawyer already, they may be able to provide the service for you. You can also choose to use one of your business 

If you plan to expand nationally, finding a registered agent service with offices in many states can be helpful. Many small business owners file their business entities in states like Delaware or Texas where there are few taxes and small corporate filing fees. A business formation service can help you determine the best choice for your business’s needs. 

Hiring a Registered Agent Tips

When you hire a registered agent, you may want to consider the following:

  • What kinds of services do they offer? If you simply need the individual or company to serve as a physical address and contact point for your business, you may not need a lot of other services. But if you have more complicated business formation needs, you may want to choose a registered agent that offers more services. 
  • How much experience do they have? Depending on the type of business you’re founding, you may want a registered agent with more experience to help navigate legal matters for you. 
  • Can you afford their fees? A good registered agent service may be worth higher fees if you need to call on them for other services, but you may choose a registered agent that will act on your behalf for free. 
  • Do they have a good reputation for customer service? Make sure the registered agent you choose will be available when you need them for questions and any services you need help with. 

Nav has curated a list of business entity formation services that can serve as your registered agent and help you get set up as a legal entity, whether that’s an LLC, corporation, partnership, or nonprofit. Sign up for Nav today to find the right business credit cards, small business loans, or other financing options for your business. You can also learn how to establish business credit and get curated, actionable insights based on your business data.

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