A registered agent is an individual or business entity that is designed to accept official documents like tax documents and government correspondence on behalf of your limited liability company (LLC). In some states, a registered agent may be called a resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process.
Recommended: ZenBusiness is the overall best registered agent service, providing great customer service, and a worry-free guarantee at an affordable price.
Most states require LLCs to have a registered agent. You can be your own LLC registered agent, you can have someone else do it for you, or you can hire a registered agent service.
There are several reasons to use a registered agent service. For more, visit our guide to the best registered agent services.
Registered Agent Definition
Most states require you to designate a registered agent for your LLC, partnership, or corporation at the business formation stage. After choosing a business structure, you must list a registered agent office when you file your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State or other appropriate government agency.
What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent?
In addition to receiving official documents, a registered agent helps a company meet filing deadlines for annual reports and forwarding legal notices. The types of documents that a registered agent receives include:
- Legal documents
- Tax forms
- Official government correspondence
- Summons (service of process), which is a notice of a lawsuit
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?
You can be your own registered agent for your business or designate someone else, like an officer, employee, or even a trusted friend. The person must meet basic registered agent requirements, including:
- being 18 years or older
- having a physical address in the state where the business is formed
- being available (in person) during normal business hours
Another option would be to hire a professional registered agent service.
Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?
There are benefits to using a registered agent service like ZenBusiness or Incfile, such as:
- Compliance With the Law – reminders for filing an annual report and other important deadlines for business entities.
- Peace of Mind – allowing you to focus on growing your business, helping maintain work-life balance, and offering advice if you have a problem or question.
- Flexibility – letting you set your own hours instead of having to be available during normal business hours every day to receive documents. Additionally, you can form an LLC in another state if you hire a national registered agent service.
- Privacy – having the registered agent service’s address be publicly listed instead of yours, while avoiding the chance of someone serving you with a lawsuit or other sensitive document in front of employees or customers.
Visit our Should I Use a Registered Agent Service guide for help with making the right choice for your business.
What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?
When selecting a registered agent service, look for one that:
- Assists with corporate compliance
- Scans important documents so that you have online access to them
- Offers a reliable, helpful customer service team
- Provides registered agent services in all 50 states
- Offers premium features for your business formation like its “Worry-Free Guarantee,” a service in which they file your company's annual report and other compliance documentation.
- Doesn’t have hidden costs or gimmicks
- Includes a full year of professional registered agent services with LLC formation
- Uses an online document management system
- Offers regular compliance alerts and scans and uploads all of your essential documents
- Has excellent customer service
Learn About Registered Agents in Your State
Our state registered agent guides below have more information about registered agent requirements in your state.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?
Changing your registered agent is simply a matter of filing the correct form with the Secretary of State. Some states allow you to do this for free, while others charge a small fee.
Some states also require a signed consent form when changing registered agents. Make sure to check the rules in your state.
For more information on how to change the registered agent for your LLC, you can visit our state-specific registered agent guides.
LLC Registered Agent Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a registered agent?
Yes, every US state requires all corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and partnerships to have a registered agent and/or registered office. A registered agent may be called different names in different states, such as a resident agent, a statutory agent, or an agent for service of process.
Can I be my own registered agent?
Yes, you can be your own registered agent so long as you:
- Are 18 years or older
- Have a physical address in your state of business
- Are always available during normal business hours to receive service of process in person
What does a registered agent do?
Registered agents work to keep your business compliant by maintaining up-to-date paperwork. They also are in charge of accepting official correspondence on behalf of your business, such as paperwork from the state and federal government, tax forms, and legal notices.
Can the owner of an LLC be the registered agent?
Yes, the registered agent of an LLC can be its owner, as long as the conditions of age and residency are met according to state guidelines. Some small business owners choose to do this instead of hiring a third party or appointing someone else to the role.
This position does come with extra responsibilities and potential inconveniences; therefore, many business owners decide it’s better for them to choose another person or a professional service to act as their registered agent. You should weigh the pros and cons of each option and decide which is best for you and your business.
What is a registered agent service?
A registered agent service is a third-party company that acts as the registered agent for your company in exchange for a fee.
Who can be a registered agent?
Registered agent requirements can vary from state to state, but they generally allow for both individuals and business entities to serve as a company’s registered agent.
Individuals must be at least 18 years old, and business entities must be registered to operate in the state. Both must present during regular business hours and have a physical office location.
We recommend hiring an experienced and reliable registered agent service. That said, you can be your own registered agent if you wish.