When forming an LLC, who is the Registered Agent?

Home » Articles » When forming an LLC, who is the Registered Agent?

Need to save time?

Hire a company to form your LLC:
Northwest ($39 + state fee)
LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)

Deal alert! Northwest will form your LLC for $39 (60% discount). See details.

When forming an LLC, it is state requirement that you to designate a Registered Agent. The only exception is in West Virginia.

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.

And 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.

Special offer: Hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), and you'll get a free year of Registered Agent service.

(Why is Northwest the best? Read our Northwest Registered Agent review)

Who can be a Registered Agent?

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.

This means 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.

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.

LLC University® Recommendation: 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 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.

Special offer: Hire Northwest to form your LLC ($39 + state fee), and you'll get a free year of Registered Agent service.

(Why is Northwest the best? Read our Northwest Registered Agent review)

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
Matt Horwitz
Matt Horwitz has been the leading expert on LLC education for the past decade. He founded LLC University in 2010 after realizing people needed simple and actionable instructions to start an LLC that other companies weren't offering. He's cited by Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and the US Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by CNBC and InventRight.
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.

Want our free email course?

Get simple LLC lessons sent right to your inbox.

Thanks! You're subscribed √
Your email address is already subscribed.

28 comments on “When forming an LLC, who is the Registered Agent?”

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

  1. Do all members of an LLC need to vote who to be a registered agent? Can one LLC member can just pick who is a registered agent disregard other members decision ?

    • Hi Diana, you’ll want to look in your Operating Agreement. Typically – as most Operating Agreements are written – it’s either all Members must agree, or a majority.

  2. Hi Matt,
    I’m forming an LLC in MA and conflicting answers with attorney’s. I know of people who have formed an LLC without using their SS#. The EIN later is used in place of having one. From what I can tell If I am a sole owner I can use my lawyer as resident Agent and assign others to manage, SOC, Real property. I want to keep my identity as distant as possible. Would I have to give my SS# or put my name on the LLC? I am a US Citizen and I could use My husband as partner if its not possible under sole ownership. But I have lawyers saying I have to use my ss# and identity when I know my builder who just did my windows used neither. Thank You!

  3. Good morning, please I have a question. I registered my LLC in missouri state in 2018. A registered agent help me in doing it when I used to drive for a trucking company before I quit as owner operator in 2019. Since then I joined another trucking company as a company driver.
    Now I wanted to go back as an owner operator with my own truck, will I have to pay for another money to the agent or not since the state of missouri does not have annual fees? Please I need help. Thanks.

    • Hi Samuel, can you share the name of your Missouri LLC? (we can remove the name later if you want). Because Missouri doesn’t have Annual Reports, there is a good chance your LLC is still in good standing. If the Commercial Registered Agent removed themselves as the Missouri Registered Agent, there is a chance the LLC isn’t in good standing. Either way, you most likely don’t need to form a new LLC. You can most likely use your existing LLC and just update the Registered Agent. Do you live in Missouri or have a friend or family member that does? If so, you or they can be the Registered Agent for the LLC and you don’t need to pay a company.

  4. Hello, I reside in AL and need to change my Registered Agent. What are the steps that I need to take? Do I need to contact the Probate Office in addition to the Sec’y of State? Thanks in advance!

  5. Hi, I am an Australian resident wanting to set up an LLC in Florida
    Do I need a US resident involved or can I use a company such as Northwest to satisfy all compliance laws?

    • Hi Peter, you don’t need to be a resident to form an LLC in Florida. And you don’t need to use/hire a resident to form an LLC in Florida. You can hire Northwest to form the LLC for you if you need help. Or you can file yourself. You will need a Florida Registered Agent thought. Hope that helps.

  6. Hi Matt. My question is somewhat similar to Nancy’s, but regarding 2 different forms. Can the agent for service of process listed on the Articles of Organization be different from the registered agent when I filed for LLC registration with the California Secretary of State?

    • Hi Barb, in California, those two terms (Registered Agent and Agent for Service of Process), in the context of LLC formation, are synonymous. And when you register or form an LLC in California, that is done with the California Secretary of State and the form to do so is the Articles of Organization. Hope that helps.

  7. Question? I am forming my single member LLC and want to know if you can change the registered agent. If so how would you do that?

    • Hi Nancy, your LLC’s Registered Agent is not “set in stone”. Soo yes, it can be changed at any time. The process is different by state. Usually there is a “Change of Registered Agent” filing that can be done online or by mail. And some states allow you to update the Registered Agent when you file the LLC’s annual report (if applicable). Hope that helps.

  8. Hello, I have another question. How do you change the registered agent? Also, what if one of the members of the LLC retire, how are they removed from the LLC?


    • Hey Jeannette, where did you form your LLC? How many members are there originally? And how many would you like there to be after the transfer of membership interest?

      Generally, the process goes like this: review your Operating Agreement to check procedure for removing an LLC Member. Then prepare Assignment of Membership Interest Agreement, amend Operating Agreement, amend Articles of Organization (if applicable), notify IRS if change in tax classification, update state Department of Revenue (or equivalent), and update bank.

  9. How do inform the state that you have new address? Is there a special form? This would be regarding an LLC and one of the members and the organizer.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jeannette, it’s slightly different in each state. Where did you form your LLC?

        • Hi Jeannette, in Texas, this is done via a Certificate of Amendment (Form 424). The filing fee is $150. To change the Registered Agent, that form is called Change of Registered Agent/Office (Form 401). The filing fee is $15. Hope that helps!

  10. On Form 205, can my spouse be listed as my registered agent at our personal residence under Article 2? Can I then also use our PMB as our mailing address in Article 3?

    • Hi C.J., yes, in the Texas Certificate of Formation (Form 205), you can list your spouse as Registered Agent and use your residence. And yes, you can use your Private Mailbox (PMB) for the Governing Persons address(es). Hope that helps.

  11. Thanks so much for your help and the information you have provided! You mentioned Northwest allows you to use their address throughout the filing process. Can you tell me some examples? Can I use their address when filing for an EIN. If my business doesn’t have a physical address can I use them as the address instead, or is it only for legal matters and service of process. Thanks again for all your help.

    • Hi Robert, what state are you forming your LLC in? They don’t explicitly advertise it, but they’ll let you use their address for your EIN. The thing is, USPS mail delivery can be a little less reliable when doing this.

  12. That was very helpful and detailed great for first timers

Leave a comment or question

Comments are temporarily disabled.