If you want to start a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation, you need to use a registered agent. A registered agent is a business or individual who acts as your proxy, standing in your place to receive service of process when your business is involved in a complaint, such as a summons or lawsuit. The registered agent’s physical address is used as the place where paperwork regarding your business’ charter is sent. A registered agent may be an officer of the company, or it may be a third party such as a service company or the business’ lawyer. Not maintaining your registered agent can impact your business negatively. Let’s dive deeper into why you need a registered agent.
Business Entities That Need a Registered Agent
An LLC or corporation’s business formation paperwork must be filed with the state that that business is being formed in. In that state, you need to get a registered agent. In every state in which your business operates, you need to maintain a registered agent. If you change your registered agent, or your registered agent’s name or address changes, you need to update your state records to reflect this.
The Purpose of a Registered Agent
A registered agent’s job is to receive service of process and compliance documents relating to a business’ charter, on behalf of a business. Having received those documents, the registered agent passes them on to the designated point person within that business. So, for instance, if the state wants to communicate something relating to your business’ income taxes, it will do so by communicating to you through your designated agent. Or, if for example someone wants to serve your paper with a lawsuit, they will do so through your registered agent. The registered agent is an assurance to all that there is someone they can communicate with regarding certain matters, who will pass that information on to you.
This is a very sensitive role because many legal and compliance documents have a clock on them, so you need a registered agent who will quickly hand over your documents to you. Missing deadlines can result in negative outcomes for your business.
People or Businesses Who Can Be Registered Agents
There are not a lot of restrictions in terms of who can be a registered agent. The regulations vary from state to state. Essentially, if a person is 18 years old or older, has a physical address in the state, and is at that address, in person, during business hours, they can be a registered agent.
You can also use a service company to be your registered agent. So if you needed a Florida LLC agent to be your registered agent for your LLC, you could appoint a service company instead of an individual.
A business cannot be its own registered agent. However, it can appoint an officer of the company as its registered agent, so long as they are physically present at their listed address during business hours.
When You Should Use a Service Company
It’s best to use a service company because it grants you privacy -because your registered agent’s physical address is used rather than your own-. It means you do not have to change registered agent’s every time an individual leaves your employ, or your relationship with them ruptures, or something else happens. It also means knowing that you are dealing with a professional with experience in the industry. Finally, it allows you to expand into multiple states without having to find a new registered agent. Many registered agent’s have offices in all 50 states to provide you with just this convenience.