A company’s owner and its registered agent can be the same person, but they don’t have to be. In fact, we recommend that owners hire a registered agent service rather than acting as their own registered agent.
Recommended: ZenBusiness is the overall best registered agent service, providing great customer service, and a worry-free guarantee at an affordable price. [End blockquote]
In this article, we’ll explain what a registered agent is, who can be one, and the pros and cons of being your own registered agent.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is a person or entity chosen by a company to receive official government documents. These can include, for example, tax filings, service of process, and correspondence from the Secretary of State. In addition, a registered agent can help the company meet filing deadlines and comply with other rules.
Who Can Be a Registered Agent?
Anyone who meets a state’s requirements can be a registered agent. These vary from state to state but are relatively minimal. Generally speaking, a registered agent must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a physical address (i.e., not just a P.O. box) in the state where the business is formed
- Be available in person during regular business hours to receive documents
Should an Owner Be a Registered Agent?
If an owner meets the above criteria, they can be a registered agent. Although being your own registered agent saves a few hundred dollars a year on registered agent services, it has several hidden costs. In particular:
- It takes time that you could use to build your business.
- Missing a court summons because the process server couldn’t reach you might result in a default judgment against you, which could be extremely costly.
- Being unavailable to receive other important documents or missing filing deadlines might result in fines that could be avoided if a registered agent service handled these tasks for you.
Benefits of Using a Registered Agent Service
In addition to avoiding the hidden costs listed above, using a registered agent service like ZenBusiness helps with:
- Legal Compliance
- Peace of mind
A registered agent service can send companies periodic filing reminders to help them comply with deadlines. This can help avoid costs like penalties and legal fees. A professional service also can:
- Help you find legal professionals and accounts in your state.
- Keep copies of your important corporate documents in case they are damaged, lost, or stolen.
Peace of Mind
Running a business takes a considerable amount of effort. A registered agent can ease some of the burden by allowing you to:
- Prioritize growing your business.
- Separate personal from business mail.
- Answer any questions that may come up.
By law, a registered agent must be present during normal business hours to receive documents at the address provided. As the business owner, you may want to set your own work hours, which a registered agent service allows you to do.
In addition, a registered agent service lets you form an LLC in one or more other states, as long as the service has a physical address in the state(s) in question.
A registered agent’s address must be listed in a public record. That means if you work out of your home, your home address will be publicly available, which you may not want. With a registered agent service, you can:
- Avoid being served with a lawsuit in front of your family, employees, or customers.
- Publicize the registered agent’s address instead of yours, which will help protect your privacy.
For more, see our Should I Use a Registered Agent Service guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a registered agent the same as the owner?
A registered agent and the owner are not necessarily the same. A registered agent is any person or entity that is designated to receive the company’s official documents and meets the state’s criteria for a registered agent.
What does registered agent name mean?
The registered agent name is simply the name of the person or entity chosen as a company’s registered agent.
Who qualifies as a registered agent?
Anyone qualifies as a registered agent if they are at least 18 years old, have a physical address in the state where a company was formed, and are available to receive official government documents during regular business hours. A business entity licensed to operate in the state can also qualify if it has personnel who meet the above criteria.