Filing the LLC formation documents to start a Limited Liability Company comes with a lot of confusing terms.
We’ll teach you the difference between an LLC Registered Agent versus an LLC Organizer, and walk you through who can serve in each role for your LLC.
What is the difference between an LLC Registered Agent and Organizer?
Simply put, a Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail and notices on behalf of your Limited Liability Company (LLC).
And an Organizer is the person who files the formation documents to create your business (the legal entity) with the state.
Good news: There are no additional filing fees to list an Organizer and a Registered Agent in your Articles of Organization. You only pay the state filing fee to start an LLC.
While these are 2 different roles, sometimes the same person can be both your LLC Registered Agent and the LLC Organizer. We’ll break this down in more detail below.
What is an Organizer of an LLC?
The Organizer of the LLC is the person who signs the paperwork that registers the LLC with the Secretary of State.
This paperwork is called the Articles of Organization in most states (or it might be called the Certificate of Organization or Certificate of Formation).
Said another way, an LLC Organizer simply files the Articles of Organization (aka “organizes” the LLC). They’re like an accountant who files your taxes for you. The accountant is never entitled to your tax return. They just file the paperwork on your behalf. An LLC Organizer works the same way for your LLC formation documents.
Who is the Organizer of an LLC?
You have lots of options for who can be the Organizer of an LLC. LLC Organizers can really be anyone, as long as you give them authorization to file the LLC Articles of Organization on your behalf.
For example, the Organizer could be:
- You (the LLC Member/owner)
- Another LLC Member (if you have co-owners)
- A friend or family member
- Your LLC’s Registered Agent
- An attorney
- An accountant
- An LLC filing company (like Northwest Registered Agent)
Is the Organizer of an LLC the owner?
The short answer is that an LLC Organizer can be an LLC owner (called an LLC Member), but they don’t have to be. And an LLC Organizer isn’t automatically made an owner of an LLC just by serving as the Organizer.
That said, the Organizer of an LLC is often one of the LLC Members. That’s because many people who start an LLC file the LLC paperwork themselves.
So they are both an owner of the LLC and the Organizer (the person filing the paperwork).
Most people who follow our free LLC guides sign their own Articles of Organization and act as the LLC Organizer (as well as the LLC Member).
Related article: Learn more about the difference between an LLC Organizer vs Member.
If a friend or family member is the Organizer, or you hired an LLC formation company, the Organizer is not an Owner
Don’t worry: allowing someone else to be your LLC Organizer, does not mean they own your LLC. They also don’t control it, and they don’t have access to your LLC’s bank account.
That said, if you want extra reassurance that your LLC Organizer no longer has authority to do anything on behalf of your LLC, you can have them sign a Statement of LLC Organizer.
What is a Registered Agent?
When you form an LLC, the state requires you to maintain a reliable point of contact who will accept legal documents (called Service of Process) in case your LLC is involved in a lawsuit.
This point of contact is called your Registered Agent. And the Registered Agent is listed on your LLC formation documents.
Your Registered Agent should be available during normal business hours to receive any documents on behalf of your LLC.
Can I be my own Registered Agent?
You sure can! You actually have 3 options for who can be your LLC’s Registered Agent:
- You can be your own Registered Agent
- A friend or family member with an address in the state where you’re forming your LLC can be your LLC’s Registered Agent
- You can hire a Registered Agent Service for an annual fee
There are some risks in being your own Registered Agent (like having your address listed on public record and missing delivery of a legal document if you’re on vacation).
That said, you are allowed to be your own Registered Agent as long as you meet the state requirements (like having a physical address in the state).
Can the Registered Agent and Organizer be the same person?
Yes. There are a few circumstances when this can happen:
You are the Organizer and your own Registered Agent
If you form your LLC yourself by filing the Articles of Organization and listing your name as the Registered Agent, then you will be both the Registered Agent and the Organizer. You’ll also be listed as an LLC Member.
For example, Juanita files the paperwork to create an LLC for her jewelry store called Nita’s Necklaces. Since Juanita files the formation paperwork, she will list herself as the LLC Organizer.
Juanita also decides to be the person who will accept Service of Process in case her business gets sued (aka she will be her own Registered Agent). This means she will also list herself as the Registered Agent for Nita’s Necklaces.
And since she’s the owner of the LLC, she’ll list herself as an LLC Member.
A friend is the Registered Agent and files your LLC Paperwork
If a friend or family member is going to be your LLC Registered Agent, and they are going to fill out the LLC formation paperwork for you, they will list themselves as both the Organizer and the Registered Agent.
You will be listed as an LLC Member, but they won’t automatically be listed as an LLC Member unless you decide you also want to make them a Member of your LLC.
You hired an LLC Formation Company / Registered Agent Service
If you hire an LLC formation company to file your LLC and also purchase Registered Agent services from the same company, the company will list themselves as both your LLC Registered Agent and the Organizer.
You will be listed as an LLC Member, but they won’t be a Member of your LLC.
Do I have to have an Organizer and a Registered Agent?
Yes. Every state requires a Limited Liability Company to have an Organizer, and to list a Registered Agent.
Rules for the Registered Agent vs. the Organizer
|Does it apply to Registered Agent?
|Does it apply to Organizer?
|Must live (have a physical address) in the state
|Yes (except for an Ohio LLC, where you can have a PO box)
|Can be an individual or a company
|Listed on the LLC formation paperwork (Articles of Organization)
|Listed on public record
|Can be an LLC Member
|Must be an LLC Member
|No (it can be, but doesn't have to be)
|No (it can be, but doesn't have to be)
Registered Agent vs Organizer FAQs
Can I be my own LLC Organizer?
You can absolutely be your own LLC Organizer! Lots of small business owners file their LLC paperwork themselves.
If you file your own LLC Articles of Organization, you should list your name as the Organizer since you’re the person filing the documents.
How many Organizers does an LLC need?
An LLC only needs one Organizer.
Some states only have space for one Organizer on the LLC formation documents, while other states allow you to list more than one.
But you’re only required to list one Organizer.
Remember, an LLC Organizer’s duties are just to file the LLC paperwork. So you don’t need to list all of the LLC Members as Organizers.
Regardless of whether you’re starting a Single-Member LLC or a Multi-Member LLC, you can list just one Organizer.
Should I be the Organizer of my LLC?
You certainly can be your LLC’s Organizer. The only risk of being the Organizer is having your name listed on public record.
Most of our readers use our free step-by-step guides to start an LLC. So they list themselves as the Limited Liability Company Organizer.
If you don’t want your name listed on public record, we recommend hiring a filing company to form your LLC (and be your Registered Agent).
How to remove an Organizer from an LLC
Once your LLC is approved, you can’t “remove” an Organizer.
And even if you could, there’s no point because the Secretary of State keeps your original Articles of Organization on public record, and they can’t can’t erase the original Organizer’s name from the filed documents.
Additionally, besides filing the Articles of Organization with the state, the LLC Organizer has no other power or authority over your LLC.
If you haven’t formed an LLC yet and you’re worried about privacy (and don’t want your name to be listed as the Organizer on public records), you need to have someone else be the LLC Organizer.
The Organizer could be an LLC Formation Company, or a friend or family member. You can’t file the documents yourself, list your name as Organizer, and then remove your name later. So if you want to avoid putting your name on the documents as the Organizer, you have to plan ahead to protect your privacy.
Can the Organizer of an LLC be the Registered Agent in my state?
Yes. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow you to list the same person as your LLC’s Registered Agent and your LLC Organizer.
Note: For a New York LLC, the Secretary of State is the Registered Agent for all companies in the state. So you don’t need to list a Registered Agent. You will still list an LLC Organizer, though.
How do I choose a Registered Agent?
Choosing the right Registered Agent for your LLC depends on your specific business needs.
We’ll guide you through your options and how to choose a Registered Agent, so you can confidently pick the best one for your LLC.
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.