Most states require that business entities designate and maintain a registered agent. These agents must be available at the registered office’s physical address during normal business hours. They can be an individual or a service company and must meet the state’s criteria, including being reliable and having a consistent availability.
What is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is an individual or company that your business designates to receive legal papers if it is sued (what lawyers call service of process) and time-sensitive compliance documents from government agencies. State laws require that domestic and foreign corporations and LLCs appoint and maintain a registered agent. This person or company must be at an address in the state where the business is registered to do business during normal business hours and be available to accept service of process and official mail.
Most states allow an individual 18 years of age or older or a company that is registered in the state to serve as a registered agent for a business. The registered agent must have a physical street address in the state where the business is registered, and it cannot be a P.O. box. Many small business owners choose to use a professional registered agent service for consistency and reliability. It also makes it less likely that important legal and compliance documents will be mishandled or missed.
How Does a Registered Agent Help My Business?
If you’re an LLC or corporation, the law requires that you have a registered agent. You can appoint yourself or another person in your company, or you can hire a professional registered agent service.
A professional registered agent service will receive legal documents and government correspondence on behalf of your business, then forward them to you. They will also alert you of upcoming deadlines and compliance actions that need your attention.
This saves you time, and it ensures that important documents arrive at the right place, even if you are on vacation or working remotely. A good registered agent service will also offer privacy options, so you can keep your private address off public records. My top pick, Northwest Registered Agent, offers privacy options as well as a great product at a competitive price with patient, helpful customer support. Check out their reviews! They have over 3,000 positive ones. I think you’ll agree they are worth hiring!
Why Do I Need a Registered Agent?
If you operate a business in the state of New York, you’re required to have a registered agent on file. Failure to do so can result in fines and a loss of your corporate status.
A reliable registered agent service can receive time-sensitive documents for your business and relay them to you promptly. This can help you avoid missing important deadlines for filings and other legal requirements.
It’s also not a good idea to list yourself as your own registered agent for your business, especially if you work nontraditional hours or don’t live in the same location as your office. This can expose your personal information to the public and open you up to unwanted gossip and speculation.
If you plan to expand your business into other states, a national registered agent service can provide consistency and convenience by providing one point of contact for all notices and documents. It can also simplify renewals since you’ll have to submit only one payment.
How Do I Choose a Registered Agent?
Choosing a registered agent isn’t just a legal formality—it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your business. The best choice is a professional service that can provide foolproof, immediate document delivery and customizable electronic notifications. Plus, they can offer a complete range of services for LLCs, C corporations, and other business entities to help them keep up with compliance obligations.
You can appoint yourself or an employee to serve as your company’s registered agent, provided you meet the state’s requirements. However, this can be risky and embarrassing if your business is sued or receives papers in front of customers and clients. A better option is to use a private registered agent company, which can ensure privacy and avoid embarrassment. Look for a service that also provides compliance reminders to help your business stay in compliance with all state requirements. This way, you can focus on growing your business. And if you have any issues, you’ll know how to get in touch with a knowledgeable customer support team.