A corporation registered agent provides the government with a point of contact for your corporation so that official documents can be delivered during regular business hours. These can include, for example, tax forms and service of process.
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Most states require businesses, including corporations, to list a registered agent in accordance with the state’s rules. In this guide, we explain what a registered agent for a corporation does, who can be a registered agent, and why you might want to hire a registered agent service.
What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent?
A registered agent, which some states call a statutory agent, resident agent, or agent for service of process, is an individual or entity that a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) designates to receive official documents from the government. These documents may include:
- Legal documents
- Tax forms
- Summons (service of process), which is a notice of a lawsuit
- Official correspondence from the Secretary of State or another government agency
In addition, a registered agent can help a business comply with various rules by sending reminders of filing deadlines and forwarding legal notices. These reminders allow you to take timely action and avoid penalties associated with missing them.
How Does a Corporation Designate and Change Its Registered Agent?
Most states require you to choose a registered agent for your corporation at the formation stage when you file your official paperwork. You must provide a registered agent and/or a registered office when you file your Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State or equivalent government agency.
Generally, you can change your registered agent by filing a state-specific change form.
Can a Corporate Shareholder Be a Registered Agent?
A corporate shareholder can be a registered agent if they meet the state’s criteria. Generally speaking, they must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Have a physical address (not just a P.O. box) in the state where the business is formed
- Be available in person to receive documents during normal business hours (i.e., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Check out our Who Can Be a Registered Agent and Is a Registered Agent Considered an Owner guides to learn more. Alternatively, you can consider using a registered agent service.
Should a Corporation Use a Registered Agent Service?
Using an affordable third-party registered agent service like ZenBusiness or Incfile has clear advantages. These include:
- Compliance with the law
- Peace of mind
Learn more in our Should I Use a Registered Agent Service guide.
Compliance With the Law
Legal and regulatory requirements for businesses change regularly. Registered agent services keep you compliant with federal and state requirements, such as annual report filings.
In addition, a registered agent can keep copies of your important corporate documents. This could be crucial if the originals are lost in a fire, flood, etc.
Peace of Mind
Using registered agent service means you don’t have to worry about missing filing deadlines or important documents. Instead, you can focus on expanding your business.
A registered agent must be available during normal business hours to receive official documents. Hiring a service allows you to keep irregular hours if you wish.
You have to publicly list your registered agent’s address, even if it’s your home address. Using a registered agent service will keep your home address private.
Even if you list your company address, there’s still a privacy issue because you may be served with a court summons or other sensitive document in front of employees or customers.
Corporation Registered Agent FAQ
Can an LLC or corporation act as its own registered agent?
Although an LLC or corporation can act as its own registered agent, using a registered agent service saves time, increases flexibility, and helps with corporate compliance.
What are the risks of being a registered agent?
There are risks to being your own registered agent. In particular, you might miss filing deadlines or a court summons, which could result in fines or a default judgment against you. You also might miss official government documents that someone is trying to deliver, which could also result in fines.
How do I use a registered agent service?
A registered agent service like ZenBusiness costs about $120 to $300 a year, depending on the company. Many other useful related services are often available for an extra charge.