A nonprofit registered agent is someone that the government can reach at your nonprofit during regular business hours so that it can deliver official documents like tax forms and service of process.
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Under the laws of most states, nonprofit corporations and other businesses must choose a registered agent. This article explains more about what a registered agent for a nonprofit does, who can serve as a registered agent, and why you might want to use a registered agent service.
What Does a Registered Agent Do?
A registered agent, which some states call a resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process, is an individual or entity that a nonprofit, corporation, or limited liability company (LLC) designates to receive court summonses, government correspondence, and other official documents. Type of documents a business may receive include:
- Legal documents
- Tax forms
- Summons (service of process), which is a notice of a lawsuit
- Official correspondence from the government
Another important function of a registered agent is to help your business comply with applicable laws and regulations by sending reminders of filing deadlines and forwarding legal notices. This helps you avoid penalties for noncompliance.
How Do Nonprofits Designate and Change Their Registered Agents?
In most states, nonprofits and other businesses have to choose a registered agent when they’re formed. You also have to list the registered agent and/or registered office address when you file your Articles of Incorporation with the appropriate state agency.
If you want to change your registered agent at some point, you need to file the appropriate form with the state government.
Can the Owner of a Nonprofit Be a Registered Agent?
As the owner of a nonprofit, you’re allowed to serve as your own registered agent. Another option is to choose someone else who meets the criteria. These vary from state to state but generally speaking include:
- Being 18 years or older
- Having a physical address in the state where the business is formed (i.e., not just a P.O. box)
- Being available in person to receive documents during normal business hours (typically between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday)
Another option – and one we recommend for most businesses – is to use a registered agent service.
Should the Owner of a Nonprofit Use a Registered Agent Service?
A reliable, affordable registered agent service like ZenBusiness or Incfile can provide several benefits for a nonprofit owner, including:
- Compliance With the Law
- Peace of Mind
For more information, see our guide Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?
Compliance With the Law
A registered agent service helps you stay apprised of annual report filing deadlines and other requirements, which can change from time to time. The service can also keep copies of your important documents in case the originals are lost or stolen.
Peace of Mind
With a registered agent service, you can rest assured that you won’t miss an important document or deadline. Letting someone else handle official paperwork allows you to focus your time and energy on running your nonprofit.
If you act as your nonprofit’s registered agent, you have to be available during normal business hours to receive documents. Hiring a registered agent service allows you to work other hours if you choose to.
Using a registered agent service means their address will be publicly listed instead of yours if you run your nonprofit out of your home. If you have a separate office, you won’t be served with sensitive documents like a court summons in front of others.
Nonprofit Registered Agent Frequently Asked Questions
Can a nonprofit act as its own registered agen
A nonprofit can act as its own registered agent. However, to increase flexibility, save time, and assist with corporate compliance, we recommend hiring a registered agent service.
What are the risks of being a registered agent?
Being your own registered agent has risks. In particular, you might miss filing deadlines for official documents or miss service of process, which could result in financial penalties. You also might miss official government documents when they are delivered, which could also result in fines.
What are the costs of using a registered agent service?
A registered agent service charges about $50 to $300 a year. Many related services are often available for an extra fee.