What is an Agent for Service of Process?

Denise Elizabeth P
Senior Financial Editor & Contributor
Last Updated: July 22, 2021
Date Published: July 6, 2021

Business entities that include limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations are required to have an agent for service of process.

You may be wondering what an agent for service of process is and why it is needed.

Continue reading to find out more!

An Agent for Service of Process Defined

Before a limited liability company or a corporation can be formed, the budding business owner will need to elect an agent for service of process.

An agent for service of process sounds like a technical notion that is mostly legal jargon however, the actual concept of it is in fact fairly simple.

An agent for service of process is also referred to as a statutory agent or a registered agent depending on the state you live or operate in.

An agent for service of process is the entity that is the recipient of your business’ documents and lawsuits.

Basically, an agent for service of process receives pertinent documents inclusive of those that are legal on behalf of your company or corporation.

What does “Service of Process” mean?

Agent of service of process

In the event that your business is sued, the one filing the case against your business has to notify your business of the lawsuit that is taking place.

Each state will have its own laws and regulations that will detail how the notice has to be made.

An example to illustrate this is when certain states would require a copy of the lawsuit to be delivered personally by entities known as process servers.

Meanwhile in other states, the notice is required to be mailed by the court clerk.

The individual in charge of delivering the notice of the lawsuit has to create a record of the date the notice was delivered (also known as the “service”) and it is from this record that the deadline for filing an appropriate response is based on.

The delivery of the notice of lawsuit is what is known as the service of process.

It should likewise be noted that a “service of process” can also pertain to additional or other legal documents that include subpoenas which require the business owner to testify in court.

Why do I need an Agent for Service of Process?

It is mandated by each state’s law for business entities to have an agent for service of process available to receive and accept the service of process of the concerned company or corporation.

The reason behind why it is legally required to assign an agent for service of process is due to the business needing to know if their company is ever sued and to have the notice of that lawsuit actually received.

In addition, anyone who is planning to sue your company or corporation will need to know who or where to serve the “process” or lawsuit upon.

It is not advisable to have lawsuits delivered to whoever was available at the business that time which could include part time employees who are about to quit or have no intention to stay leading them to not notify the owner of the process that has been served.

It is mandated by law for every business entity to have a registered agent for service of process in the state where the corporation or company was formed and to also have a designated agent for service of process in every other state the company or corporation is registered to do business in.

Risks of being your own registered agent

What does a Registered Agent for Service of Process do?

It is the registered agent for service of process that functions as the initial recipient that accepts the legal documents sent to be served onto your company or corporation.

From there, it is the registered agent for service of process that forwards the documents they have received on your behalf to the apt authority in your company or corporation.

On public records, it will be the registered agent for service of process’ address and name that will be reflected on behalf of your business which would lead to the registered agent also receiving different notifications such as that from the taxing authorities or from the secretary of state.

It is the registered agent’s responsibility to forward the notifications they receive to the business they represent.

It is possible for a business to be fined penalties in the event that it does not maintain a registered agent.

Meanwhile, it is the business owner’s responsibility to update their registered agent’s address and information with the state when it has been subjected to changes.

Who can provide Registered Agent Services?

A registered agent service cannot stop at merely having a P.O. box.

Rather, a registered agent service has to have an exact street address located within the state that the registered agent functions as an agent in.

Certain states refer to the agent’s address as a registered office.

The agent is required to be of service in the address that was filed with the state during every normal business hour.

In most states, any individual over the age of 18 can function as a registered agent.

It is possible to nominate an employee or an owner of the business to act as the company or corporation’s registered agent.

It is also possible to have an external third party whether they may be an individual like a lawyer or a business entity that specializes in being a registered agent for service of process to provide registered agent services.

What is a LLC registered agent

Who should I choose as my Registered Agent?

A registered agent’s role is vital to your company or corporation so when selecting a registered agent, it is important to choose an individual or business entity that can fully take on the responsibility in a way that is consistent and reliable.

You can always opt to have yourself as your own registered agent although there will be situations you are likely to encounter where you might prefer to hire a dedicated registered agent service instead.

Things to take note of when selecting a registered agent include:

  • The registered agent has to be of service every hour of the business’ normal hours of operations. For business owners that are not commonly in their offices during daytime hours, it would be more beneficial to hire a designated registered agent service instead.
  • For those that opt to have themselves or their employees elected to function as the business’ registered agent, the possibility of having the process server send legal or court papers in the presence of the business’ customers or other employees is present which may lead to embarrassment.
  • The registered agent’s information inclusive of its address and name will be made available on the corporation or limited liability company’s public records. Business owners who would like to protect their privacy can opt to assign another individual or business entity as a registered agent.
  • Business that is conducted in multiple states will require one registered agent per state. Business owners may find it more convenient and invariable to just opt to hire a dedicated registered agent company to ensure that each business in different states will receive registered agent services in a uniform manner.

A registered agent whether you opt to hire a service or not is a crucial part of your business’ operating structure.

Selecting a registered agent that you can depend on will guarantee that your business does not miss out on pertinent official correspondences especially when it comes to knowing about legal procedures or actions that will take place so you as the business owner can make the necessary actions it will take to respond appropriately.

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  1. SBA.gov "Register with State Agencies" Page 1 . July 6, 2021

  2. SBA.gov "Register your business" Page 1 . July 6, 2021

  3. SBA.gov "Register with state agencies" Page 1 . July 6, 2021