The registered agent is an official contact that accepts and forwards important documents to a company. When forming an entity, a registered agent is required in most states, and must have a local physical mailing address – that’s about it.
The registered agent is the person or service provider with a physical address (not a P.O. Box) that is responsible for receiving official correspondence on your company’s behalf. This includes lawsuits, tax matters, liens, and anything else you want to be abundantly sure isn’t lost in the shuffle. Because the registered agent’s address is the official address on file with the secretary of state (and publicly available), it can also include a lot of junk mail…
Each company registered in a state is required to have a registered agent so that, among other things, the state can deliver documents to the company and a third party can serve a lawsuit if they decide to sue your company, without leaving questions about whether or not it was ever delivered to the right person. The registered agent is responsible to ensure that you are aware of official mailings and many service providers have additional mail forwarding services at various levels. If you live in the state where you are organizing your company, you can serve as your own registered agent. Otherwise, you can engage a third-party provider to serve in this role for you as a commercial registered agent.
The name and contact information of the registered agent is publicly available by searching for the entity on the secretary of state’s database. If there is any need for anonymity, it makes sense to enlist a third party instead of using your own name and/or address. If you decide to serve as your company’s registered agent, it is your responsibility to keep an eye out for incoming mail at that address.
Service providers charge between $50-$400 a year for registered agent services. To change registered agents, most states have forms available that you can file at any time, or you can update that information with an annual report.
Picture on the top is by Jordan Bergendahl and is in the public domain.
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