WHAT IS A REGISTERED AGENT FOR AN LLC?

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What is a registered agent for an LLC? A registered agent for an LLC is an individual or business that accepts official correspondence on behalf of an LLC. They then pass these documents on to the LLC owners in a timely manner.

An LLC registered agent must always be reachable at the address provided within regular business hours. And you must appoint a registered agent if you own an LLC.


WHAT IS AN LLC REGISTERED AGENT?

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An LLC registered agent is an individual or business entity that accepts official documents on behalf of an LLC business. The correspondence they receive includes legal papers, tax notices, and government-related documents. An LLC registered agent is sometimes referred to as a resident agent or statutory agent.

When you form an LLC you will need to appoint a registered agent in your LLC articles of organization. Depending on the state your LLC is being registered – you will also have to provide details of your agent in routine reports such as annual and biennial reports.

Although the role of a registered agent appears simple. They must be always available at the address provided to receive official documents. Many of these papers need to be received in person and cannot be simply posted to an address.


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WHAT DOES AN LLC REGISTERED AGENT DO?

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Why does your LLC need a registered agent? What do they do?  While the role of a registered agent is very simple, it is also critically important. They provide a vital service for an LLC company. Failure to appoint a good registered agent can result in damaging consequences for your LLC.

Your registered agent receives official documentation on behalf of the company and then passes these documents on to the LLC company owners. Some official correspondence must be received in person by your registered agent. This means they must be always available at the address provided – within regular business hours.

Examples of the official documents your registered agent can receive include tax notices, compliance papers, business registration renewals, and court papers such as service of process. If your registered agent is unavailable to accept any documents when they are delivered – there may be serious consequences for the company.

The key features of being a registered agent are always being available at the specified address, (within standard business hours, 52 weeks per year), receiving in-person important official documents of the company, and then passing these documents on to the company owners in a timely manner.


LLC REGISTERED AGENT REQUIREMENTS

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When talking about – what is a registered agent for LLC – we need to cover the requirements of an LLC registered agent. The requirements needed to be a registered agent for an LLC are simple. Five basic conditions must be met and they relate to location, physical address, availability, and age.

STATE-BASED

An LLC registered agent must be located in the same state that the LLC business has been registered in.

PHYSICAL ADDRESS

The registered agent must have a physical address to which documents can be delivered. You cannot use a PO address.

REACHABLE – ALL YEAR ROUND

The agent must be reachable during normal business hours. Typically, this means Monday to Friday from 9:00hrs to 17:00hrs. Many legal documents must be served to an individual.

MINIMUM AGE

The individual must be at least 18 years of age.

INDIVIDUAL OR BUSINESS ENTITY

A registered agent can be an individual or business entity as long as they meet the above requirements. However, you cannot appoint your LLC as its own registered agent.


CAN YOU BE YOUR OWN REGISTERED AGENT?

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Yes, you can be your own registered agent. You, a business partner, or any employee of the company can serve as the registered agent of the LLC as long as they meet the requirements outlined above. You can even appoint a lawyer, friend, or spouse as long as all requirements are met.

When considering who to appoint a registered agent you must take into account that they will be present at the address specified during normal business hours. If a court tries to serve legal papers to your registered agent and they were out of office at the time – you could have a problem.

Another problem with appointing yourself as your LLC registered agent is that your address will become a public record. When you appoint a registered agent you will have to disclose the address of the agent. If you use your home address this will become publicly available.

While appointing yourself as a registered agent may at first appear to be a good idea, it is often not the case. If you want to protect your identity and not tie yourself down to a specific location five days per week – you should appoint someone else. This is why many people use a professional registered agent service.


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WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T HAVE A REGISTERED AGENT?

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If you don’t have a registered agent you will not be able to form your LLC. To register your LLC with your local secretary of state you must complete and submit your company’s Articles of Organization.

This document includes all the details the state needs to officially sanction the formation of your LLC. And, appointing a registered agent is a critical part of the process. If you do not appoint a registered agent, your articles of organization will be incomplete and your LLC formation request will be rejected.

In addition to naming a registered agent during company formation, you will also have to periodically name your registered agent in company reports. If you don’t have a registered agent, you will not be able to file these reports.

Most states require an annual or biennial report on the state of your LLC. You will be obliged to provide the name and contact details of your registered agent in this report. If you cannot file these reports you will not be able to maintain the LLC status of your company.

POTENTIAL PENALTIES & FINES

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If you fail to maintain a registered agent your company may be in for some serious consequences. Firstly, there’s a good chance your company will no longer be viewed as being in good standing by the state.

This can result in a series of penalties for the company such as fines and losing the ability to form contracts or take legal action. Additionally, if you don’t have a registered agent you will be unable to receive service of process on important matters such as legal actions.

If your company was to be sued and you don’t have a registered agent, you may not be aware of the case against the company. This could result in a default judgment against you if the company does not respond to any court matters.


HOW TO CHOOSE A REGISTERED AGENT

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When choosing a registered agent – you need to pick someone that satisfies all the requirements listed above. Most of these requirements are easily fulfilled – being state-based, having a physical address, and fulfilling the minimum age. However, the requirement of always being reachable is more demanding – and more difficult to fulfill.

If you are a small business and want to save some money you can appoint yourself, a friend, a family member, or an employee as your registered agent. But bear in mind – this person must be available at the specified address during regular business hours, 52 weeks per year.

Also, once you appoint a registered, you must provide their address. If this is a friend or a family member you may need to use their home address. And, this address will become public record as part of your LLC filing. This can lead to privacy concerns.

If you want to appoint a registered agent that you can always rely on – and protects the home address of a friend, family member, or employee – you can hire a registered agent service. There are many companies out there that specialize in providing professional LLC registered agent services. And, for a small fee, you can hire one to represent your company.


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WHAT ARE REGISTERED AGENT SERVICES?

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When covering – what is a registered agent for an LLC – we need to take a look at professional services. A professional registered agent service is a company that specializes in providing registered agent services to other companies. These companies offer an alternative to naming a private individual as your registered agent.

The best registered agent services charge a small annual fee in the region of $100-$300 for their services. With this, you get the reassurance that your registered agent will always be reachable and contactable during regular business hours – all year round.  Need some help choosing a professional service?  Check out the Best Registered Agent Service Reviews.

Hiring a registered agent service means you won’t have to divulge the personal details of an individual. if you appoint yourself, a friend, a family member, or an employee as your LLC registered agent you will have to name the individual and provide an address – often their home address.

For more on the benefits of hiring a professional registered agent see – Pros & Cons of a Registered Agent Service.


BENEFITS OF USING A REGISTERED AGENT SERVICE

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What are the benefits of using a third-party registered agent service? Why not just use an individual such as a friend or family member? Here are some of the advantages of using a professional LLC registered agent service.

PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY

By using a third party you don’t have to publically divulge your or anybody else’s personal details. Using an individual will mean their name and address will be on public record.

IF YOU USE A PO BOX

If you use a PO box for general mail for your company you will need a real physical address for your registered agent. You cannot use a PO box for your registered agent or to receive federal or legal notices.

AVOID EMBARRASSMENT

Using a registered agent service means legal documents won’t be served on you or any other individual in front of customers, employees, or friends.

ALWAYS AVAILABLE

A professional LLC registered agent service is always available. That is what they do. So, you won’t have to worry about missing an important document if you travel for a meeting or take a holiday.

AVOID FINES & PENALTIES

A professional service is always available. And they will pass all official correspondence on to you in a timely manner. This means you won’t miss any notifications on important matters such as court proceedings or federal tax notices – and can avoid fines and penalties for not responding.

CHANGE OF LOCATION

If you appoint an individual as your registered and they change their address you will have to process a registered agent address change with your secretary of state.

OPERATE IN DIFFERENT STATES

Many registered agent services provide physical addresses in multiple states. This means you can use the same agent to do business in multiple states. All you have to do is provide their address in the state you wish to do business.


DO OTHER TYPES OF COMPANY NEED A REGISTERED AGENT?

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Yes, other types need a registered agent to form a business and continue to operate and be recognized as a legitimate business – not just an LLC. Every US state requires businesses that register as legal entities (LLCs, limited partnerships, corporations) to have a registered agent.

MUST HAVE A REGISTERED AGENT

  • LLC
  • Limited Partnerships (LP)
  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP)
  • Corporations

All formal business entities must have a registered agent. However, simpler business structures do not – sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not need a registered agent.

DO NOT NEED A REGISTERED AGENT

  • Sole Proprietorships
  • General Partnerships

WHAT IS A REGISTERED AGENT FOR AN LLC FAQ

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DO I NEED A REGISTERED AGENT FOR MY LLC?

Yes, every state requires a registered agent for an LLC. You will need a registered agent to form your LLC and their name and contact details must be submitted when you file your Articles of Organization with your secretary of state.

CAN AN LLC MEMBER BE A REGISTERED AGENT?

Yes, an LLC member can be a registered agent. Any of the LLC owners, (members), can act as the registered agent for the company as long as they satisfy the requirements of being an LLC registered agent.

WHAT IS A SERVICE OF PROCESS AGENT?

A service of process agent is another name for a registered agent. It is just another way of referring to the same company agent. A registered agent is also sometimes called a resident agent or statutory agent.

HOW MUCH DOES A REGISTERED AGENT COST?

A registered agent can be free if you appoint yourself, a colleague, or a family member. If you hire the services of a professional registered agent you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of $100-$300 per year.

HOW DO I CHANGE MY REGISTERED AGENT?

You can change your registered agent at any time by submitting the relevant paperwork to your local state authority – usually the secretary of state. Different states have different procedures but you can expect to have to fill out a form and pay a small fee.

WHAT ARE COMMERCIAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL REGISTERED AGENTS?

A commercial registered agent is a professional service. If you use a professional service as your registered agent, you may hear them referred to as a commercial registered agent. A non-professional service is sometimes referred to as a non-commercial registered agent.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Senior Editor at My LLC Guide | Website | + posts

Senior Editor

Erik is a 30-year industry veteran with a wealth of experience in cross-functional areas ranging from business consulting to business education. He has worked in the private sector where he has advised start-up enterprises on early formation, capital acquisition, and tax issues.

While he specializes in business formation he has also held roles in several academic institutions where he teaches organizational decision-making, business strategy, and operations management. Erik is a graduate of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

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