Last updated October 12, 2020

When forming an LLC, who is the Registered Agent?

When forming an LLC, it is state requirement that you to designate a Registered Agent.

This is how the US court and legal system works. If somebody wants to sue a company, there needs to be reliable person (or company) and a reliable street address where court documents, such as a subpoena, summons, petition, or complaint, can be served.

This is what a Registered Agent is; a person or company who agrees to accept legal mail (called “Service of Process“) on behalf of your LLC in the event of a lawsuit or other court proceeding.

Registered Agent synonyms: In some states, a Registered Agent is called a Resident Agent, Statutory Agent, Statutory Agent for Acceptance of Process, or Agent for Service of Process. They all mean the same thing though.

The laws regarding Registered Agent requirements vary by state, but in the vast majority of states, the following hold true:

• If the LLC’s Registered Agent is a person, that person must be a resident of the state where your forming your LLC, be at least 18 years of age, have a street address located in the state where your forming your LLC, and be available during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

• If the LLC’s Registered Agent is a company, that company needs to be registered to do business in the state in which you are forming your LLC.

• The Registered Agent must have an actual street address. Post Office (PO) boxes are not allowed.

What this means is that if you are forming an LLC, you, or someone you know, can serve as your LLC’s Registered Agent. Some states require a written and signed consent form (known as a Registered Agent Consent to Appointment, or similar name) be on file with the Secretary of State’s office. Remember, you (or they) must be a resident of the state where you are forming an LLC, and have a street address where you are available (or they are available) during normal business hours.

It is important to note that the name and address of the Registered Agent will be listed publicly with your State’s Secretary of State’s Office. When forming the LLC, you’re going to file what’s called an “Articles of Organization” (or “Certificate of Organization” or “Certificate of Formation“) and that document goes on the public record.

Now, this doesn’t mean that if you use somebody else, or hire another company as your LLC’s Registered Agent, that your address is automatically going to be hidden from the public. The reason being, is that in addition to the Registered Agent’s name and address being on public, many states also require the name and address of the LLC Members or Managers.

For states requiring you to list the names and addresses of the LLC Members or Managers, hiring a Registered Agent Company is not going to offer much privacy. However, in states where the only name and address on the Articles of Organization (or similar document) is that of the Registered Agent’s, then listing someone else as your Registered Agent or hiring a Registered Agent Company (called a “Commercial Registered Agent”), certainly offers you privacy by keeping your personal information and home address off of the public record.

And although you can list yourself, or a friend or family member, as your LLC Registered Agent, if you or that person are not going to be at the street address you provided during normal business hours, this can expose your to risk. In most states, it is a requirement to “continuously maintain” a Registered Agent and that Registered Agent needs to be available during business hours if a legal document needs to be served on the company. If a legal or court document needs to be served upon your LLC, but you cannot be reached (or your friend or family member cannot be reached), after trying a few times, the court case can proceed in your absence (which you certainly don’t want).

If you don’t have an address located in the state where you are forming an LLC, or if your state offers privacy by designating someone besides yourself as the LLC’s Registered Agent, then we recommend you hire a Commercial Registered Agent.

A Commercial Registered Agent is a company that specializes in receiving Service of Process on behalf of LLCs and then forwarding it to the respective owners in a timely manner (usually by scanning and emailing mail). Most Commercial Registered Agents will charge anywhere from $100 per year upwards of $300 per year.

If you need to hire a Commercial Registered Agent, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent ($125 per year).

Northwest has been in the business for over 20 years and they have great customer support. Any mail that is sent to your LLC will be scanned by them and uploaded to your online account. They also let you use their address throughout your LLC filing (if you want to keep your address off public records).

Special offer: If you hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), they’ll include their registered agent services free for the 1st year.

In summary, a Registered Agent is a fancy word for a person or company who agrees to accept Service of Process on behalf of your LLC in order to ensure that the United States court and legal system functions properly.

Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! LLC University® teaches people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your business journey.
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