What is a LLC Registered Agent?

Answering all of your Questions about LLC Registered Agents and should you be your own Registered Agent or Hire a Registered Agent Service - Find out More!
Denise Elizabeth P
Senior Financial Editor & Contributor
Last Updated: May 19, 2021
Date Published: May 7, 2021

A registered agent is simply a person or entity appointed to accept any official mail or important documents on behalf of an LLC or Corporation.

You can appoint yourself, or in many states, you can appoint your business to be its own registered agent.

Most states require that LLCs and Corporations designate a registered agent when forming their business.

Once you choose a business structure, you will have to file your Articles of Organization and choose a registered agent.

While you can serve as a registered agent for your own LLC, this puts pressure on you to keep up with business filings and potential legal disputes.

Sometimes it’s better to hand off that responsibility to a professional.

Furthermore, being the registered agent and the business owner means that your personal information and business address are made public.

A Registered Agent service ensures that your annual reports and other forms are filed efficiently and on-time, saving you from the penalties of delinquent filings and the stress of having to do it yourself.

We will discuss more on that later.

What is the purpose of a Registered Agent?

A registered agent does more than just receive official mail on your behalf.

They help your business maintain effective corporate compliance by informing you of annual filing deadlines or any legal notices that get sent to you.

Registered agents can receive the following types of documents on your behalf:

  • Tax forms
  • Legal documents
  • Official government correspondence like annual reports
  • Notice of lawsuits or summons

The registered agent is like a gatekeeper for your business and is there to make sure none of these important documents or deadlines slip through the cracks.

Best Registered Agent Services Online

Is a Registered Agent Required?

Every U.S. state requires that corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and partnerships have a registered agent.

Other names for a registered agent include: resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process.

You cannot form a corporation, LLC or partnership without a registered agent, and you will not be compliant with state government requirements if you do not maintain an active registered agent as long as your business is active.

Can I be my own Registered Agent?

Yes, as the business owner, you can be your own registered agent but this has its own pros and cons.

On the positive side, it will save you money by not having to pay any fees to a registered agent service.

On the negative side, when you serve as your own LLC registered agent, you have to make your registered office address a public record.

This is not ideal if you want your office to be private or don’t want your clients to know that you perhaps work from home, etc.

You are also required to be present and available to receive deliveries during normal business hours at your physical address.

Using a registered agent service makes your public record information such as your physical address private and removes some of the responsibility that comes with being your own registered agent.

In order to be a registered agent you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Have a physical address in the state where the business is formed
  • Be available, in person, during normal business hours

What is a Registered Agent Service?

A Registered Agent Service is basically a business entity that acts as your registered agent and receives important tax and legal documents on behalf of LLCs and Corporations.

This service is not free and you usually have to pay an annual fee for a registered agent service.

Although there is an annual fee, many businesses still choose to use a registered agent service rather than being their own registered agent.

There are many benefits to designating someone else to serve as a registered agent for your LLC or corporation, more specifically a registered agent service that specializes in just that, being a registered agent.

These registered agent service providers know the ins and out of being a registered agent and understand the annual deadlines as well as any legal documents that may come their way.

They provide knowledge, compliance with the law, privacy, flexibility, and peace of mind in knowing you won’t miss any important documents or deadlines.

Registered agents help businesses stay up-to-date on state requirements by sending regular reminders, and sometimes filings things like annual report filings and other official government notifications.

Registered agent services will also keep copies of your corporate documents.

In case of theft, natural disaster, or other unexpected losses, you will have a backup of all your important business and legal documents.

registered agent

Should I use a Registered Agent Service?

This is a question every business owner asks themselves when they get to the step of selecting a registered agent fr their business.

As mentioned above, you can certainly act as your own registered agent but before you make that decision, let’s look at the benefits of hiring a registered agent service:

  • Compliance
  • Privacy
  • Flexibility

Compliance

Every business entity has certain state requirements that need to be met in order to stay compliant.

These requirements include annual report filings and other official government notifications and deadlines that vary from state to state.

A registered agent service will not only keep secure copies of all of your corporate documents should there be a natural disaster, fire, or other incident, they will make sure you stay 100% compliant with your state’s requirements.

Some registered agent service providers will file all of your annual reports and compliance requirements for you while others will send you reminders before the deadline and offer assistance if needed.

Registered agent service providers keep you compliant with the law, which keeps your business in good standing.

This gives you peace of mind to focus on more important things – like running your business and growing.

Privacy

If you serve as your own registered agent, your personal information, including address, will be available to the public.

With a registered agent service,  your personal information is kept private which is important for a few different reasons:

  • Prevents you from being served with a lawsuit in person – perhaps at your place of business in front of customers, employees, or family members
  • Prevents you from receiving unsolicited mail and spam or unwanted visitors
  • If you perhaps work as an employee but run a business on the side, you will want privacy from your present employer who may have an issue with you having a second job or business
  • Perhaps you have an online presence as a blogger, writer, or influencer but don’t want anyone knowing your physical address

If privacy is extremely important for you and your business and you need to be 100% anonymous, there are some states that are known for providing complete LLC privacy.

Learn more about LLC anonymity here and why some business owners remain so private.

Flexibility

When you serve as your own registered agent, you need to be available during normal business hours at the physical address you provide to receive any official government documents, filings, or notices as well as any summons, should they arise.

A registered agent service takes the pressure off of you having to maintain a certain schedule because they are the point of contact for these official documents.

With a registered agent service, you can do more than just work from anywhere and maintain flexible business hours but will allow you to form your LLC in another stater perhaps in multiple states.

What is the Best Registered Agent Service?

Hiring a registered agent service has many advantages but there are many to choose from, so how do you know you are choosing the right one?

When looking for a registered agent service provider there are a few key features you will want to look for:

  • National registered agent service – this means they have registered agent service in all 50 states
  • Compliance management – annual report filing deadline reminders and business entity deadline reminders
  • Document management – secure online storage or official legal documents for easy online access via your business account
  • Customer service – reasonable customer service hours, reliable, and customer focused

To get you started, we’ve put together a list of the Best Registered Agent Service here, but for today’s post we are only going to highlight our top choice.

For several years in a row, Zen Business has won first place for the most affordable registered agent service and the best overall value.

The registered agent feature is pretty impressive and is offered at a reasonable price of $99 per year.

ZenBusiness also offers a worry-free guarantee which means they will file your company’s annual report and other compliance documents for you so that you don’t have to miss any important deadlines.

If you haven’t formed your LLC yet, they will form your LLC for $39 + State Fee and throw in the registered agent service for one year free.

Their pricing is clearly laid out, no surprises, gimmicks or sneaky fees or add-ons and that is another reason why we love them.

ZenBusiness will scan and upload all of your important legal documents to their document management system and mail you hard copies for your records.

Customer reviews rave about their excellent customer service and knowledgeable representatives.

As mentioned above, they are your best overall value forming your LLC or for their registered agent service.

Can I change my Registered Agent?

Yes, you can change your designated registered agent at any time.

In most states, you simply change your company’s registered agent by filling out a “Change of Registered Agent” form, but you will want to check with your state as to what the requirements are.

Some states also allow you to change your LLC’s registered agent in your annual report filing.

Changing the registered agent for your company costs anywhere from $0 – $50 depending on the state you live in.

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  1. IRS.gov "Limited Liability Company (LLC)" Page 1 . May 5, 2021

  2. SBA.gov "Business Structures - Limited Liability" Page 1 . May 5, 2021

  3. IRS.gov "State and Federal Online Business Registration" Page 1 . May 5, 2021