Choosing a Tennessee Registered Agent
Before starting your Tennessee LLC by filing the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State, you need to select a Tennessee Registered Agent for your LLC.
What does a Tennessee Registered Agent do?
A Registered Agent in Tennessee is a person or business entity who agrees to accept legal documents on behalf of your LLC in case your business gets sued.
In Tennessee Registered Agents can also serve as a general point of contact for receiving business and tax notices, payment reminders, and other documents.
Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their Registered Agent service free for the 1st year.
What are the requirements to be a Registered Agent?
Registered Agents must be available during normal business hours (9am – 5pm) in case Service of Process arrives. Service of Process for an LLC includes delivery of legal documents such as complaints, summons, and/or subpoenas.
Your Registered Agent must have a street address in Tennessee. PO Boxes aren’t allowed.
If your Registered Agent will be a person, they must also be at least 18 years old and a resident of Tennessee.
Is a Registered Agent required in Tennessee?
Yes, a Registered Agent is required in Tennessee to form an LLC – and to keep it in good standing with the Tennessee Secretary of State.
This is because Registered Agents accept legal mail on behalf of your LLC in the event that your business is involved in a lawsuit. This legal mail is called “Service of Process” and the Tennessee Secretary of State needs to make sure your business is able to receive it.
It’s similar to how ‘certified mail return receipt’ works. It creates a physical record that something was delivered.
Can I be my own Registered Agent in Tennessee?
Yes, you can be your LLC’s Tennessee Registered Agent, as long as you meet the requirements listed above.
However, you actually have 4 options when forming an LLC in Tennessee:
- You can be your LLC’s Registered Agent (Are there risks?)
- Your LLC can be its own Registered Agent.
- A friend or family member can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
- You can hire a Tennessee Registered Agent Service, technically known as a Commercial Registered Agent.
What’s the best Registered Agent option to choose?
- If you have a street address located in Tennessee (such as a home or office address), and are available during business hours, you (or your LLC) can be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
- If you don’t have a street address in Tennessee, you can use an adult friend or family member’s address. They need to have a street address in Tennessee and be available during business hours.
- If you don’t have a street address in Tennessee, and you don’t have a friend or family member’s address that you can use (or prefer not to), you can hire a Tennessee Registered Agent Service.
Using a Registered Agent Service in Tennessee also offers more privacy (can keep your address off public records) and can be a more reliable setup.
Tennessee Registered Agent Services
Note: The terms “Registered Agent Service” and “Commercial Registered Agent” mean the same thing. We will use them both interchangeably.
Tennessee Registered Agent Services specialize in receiving Service of Process (legal mail) on behalf of your Tennessee LLC.
Once hired, they will accept Service of Process on behalf of your Tennessee LLC and then forward it to you by mail, or scan and upload it to your online account.
How much does a Registered Agent cost in Tennessee?
Most Registered Agent Services in Tennessee cost between $100 and $300 per year.
Who’s the best Registered Agent Service in Tennessee?
The Tennessee Registered Agent Service that we recommend (and use ourselves) is Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).
Northwest has been in the business for over 20 years and they have great customer service.
However, one of the coolest things about using Northwest is the privacy feature.
How to keep your address off public records:
It’s important to realize that your Registered Agent address (and all addresses in your LLC’s Articles of Organization) get listed on public record and may appear in google searches. If you want to keep your address off of public record, using a Registered Agent that will allow you to use their address as your LLC’s address can be very helpful.
Northwest Registered Agent is the only company that provides a Registered Agent service where they’ll let you use their Tennessee business address throughout your entire Articles of Organization.
Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded into your online account.
Special discounted pricing for LLC University® readers
Northwest usually charges $100 + state fees to form an LLC. However, we’ve negotiated a discounted rate (60% off) for LLC University® readers.
Risks of being your own Registered Agent in Tennessee
As mentioned above, you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Tennessee. In fact, you, a friend, or a family member can be your Tennessee Registered Agent.
However, there are risks. They are not extremely likely to occur, but if they do, you could lose your liability protection and the Tennessee Secretary of State has the power to administratively dissolve and shut down your LLC.
This can happen if you don’t maintain (always have) a Registered Agent on file, or if the Tennessee Secretary of State is unsuccessful in reaching your Registered Agent.
Additionally, if a process server (a person who serves court documents and notices of lawsuits) is unsuccessful in reaching your Tennessee Registered Agent, a court case can proceed in your absence and you might not even know about it. Or worse, the court could enter a default judgment against your LLC if you aren’t there to defend yourself.
A few reasons a process server might not be able to reach your Tennessee LLC’s Registered Agent:
- You, your friend, or family member are not there during normal business hours
- You/they are on vacation or out of town
- You/they moved and you forgot to file a Change of Registered Agent with the state
Using a Registered Agent Service, like Northwest Registered Agent, is a more reliable setup and offers more privacy.
It also gives you the freedom to take vacations, and not worry about changing your Registered Agent’s name or address if you move.
Tennessee Registered Agent FAQs
Yes, Tennessee requires all LLCs to maintain a Registered Agent for the life of their LLC.
While you can google various different Registered Agents and check on their pricing, here is a list of some of the most popular Registered Agent Services and their fees:
- Northwest Registered Agent is $125 per year
- Our #1 recommendation for privacy
- ZenBusiness is $99 per year
- MyCompanyWorks is $99 per year
- Harbor Compliance is $99 per year
- IncFile is $119 per year
- Rocket Lawyer is $150 per year
- LegalZoom is $299 per year
Note: If you want to save money, you can also be your LLC’s Registered Agent in Tennessee. Or, your LLC can be it’s own Registered Agent in Tennessee.
Whether or not you can use a PO Box for a Tennessee LLC depends on which address you want to use it for.
The Tennessee Articles of Organization has three different address fields:
- the Registered Agent’s physical address
- the LLC’s Principal Office address
- the LLC’s Mailing address
You can’t use a PO Box for your LLC Registered Agent’s address. This must be a physical street address in Tennessee
You also can’t use a PO Box for your LLC’s Principal Office address. However, this address can be in any state, or even an international address.
That said, you can use a PO Box for your LLC’s mailing address. This address can also be in any state, or it can be an international address.
Yes, you can be your LLC’s Registered Agent. Tennessee law allows any business or a consenting adult who is a Tennessee resident to be your LLC’s Registered Agent. That includes you, a friend, or a family member.
Additionally, Tennessee is one of few states that allow your LLC to serve as its own Registered Agent.
Just know that anyone serving as your Registered Agent will have their address made public record.
How can I keep my address off of public record?
If you aren’t comfortable with your address being on public record, then you can hire Northwest Registered Agent as your Registered Agent Service. They’ll let you use their Tennessee office address throughout your filing so your information remains private while still meeting all state legal requirements.
Once you determine who will serve as your Tennessee LLC’s Registered Agent, you can proceed to the next Lesson: Tennessee LLC Articles of Organization.
If you need to hire a Tennessee Registered Agent Service, please do so before going to the next step.
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Tennessee LLC Act: Section 48-208-101
Tennessee LLC Act: Section 48-208-102
Tennessee LLC Act: Section 48-208-103
Tennessee LLC Act: Section 48-208-104
Tennessee LLC Act: Section 48-208-105
Tennessee LLC Act: Section 48-249-112