What Is Service of Process for an LLC?

Business man going through registered agent paperwork.

Service of process is the act of serving a person or company with a lawsuit.

Recommended: ZenBusiness is the overall best registered agent service, providing great customer service, and a worry-free guarantee at an affordable price.

This notice, also known as a summons, is given to the person or company being sued. A summons is an official legal document that’s brought before a judge or magistrate.

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Registered Agents and Service of Process

The person or entity that you designate as your company’s registered agent will be in charge of accepting official documents on behalf of the business, including service of process. It is then the registered agent’s job to forward the court summons to the appropriate individual in your company so it can be acted upon promptly.

If someone acts as their own registered agent for their company, service of process and other documents will be delivered to the address they provided. This could be their home or a separate office.

To learn more about the role of a registered agent, visit our What Is a Registered Agent article.

Hiring a Registered Agent to Receive Service of Process

If you would rather not act as your own registered agent, another good option is to hire a registered agent service, sometimes known as a commercial registered agent, that has plenty of experience receiving official documents on behalf of companies, including service of process.

It can be intimidating to receive a court summons. A registered agent service can receive it on your behalf so you can avoid embarrassment in front of employees or customers at your office.

If you’re in the market for a registered agent service, check out our top-rated options below to help you find the best one for your needs.

How to Select a Registered Agent Service

Any registered agent service you use must have a legitimate physical office in your company’s state. Also, make sure the service has reliable customer service and can provide registered agent services in all 50 states in case you want to start a company in another state.

In addition, look for a service that provides:

  • Compliance management: reminders for filing annual reports and other important deadlines
  • Document management: local scanning of all official documents so you can access them from your online account

For detailed reviews of registered agent services, visit our review of the best registered agent services.

Recommended Services

ZenBusiness Registered Agent

ZenBusiness provides the most comprehensive registered agent services available for a good price. Not does it include registered agent services with LLC formation, but it only charges $99 annually after the first year.

The company’s Complete Registered Agent plan includes a “Worry-Free Compliance” guarantee. This feature provides annual filing report alerts, submits documents on your company’s behalf, and permits two free changes to your filings per year. It also pays the cost of regaining good standing if your company misses a deadline.

Additionally, ZenBusiness offers a user-friendly, intuitive dashboard for all its services. You can keep track of important business documents in real-time for convenience.

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest provides high-quality registered agent services without hidden fees or gimmicks. The company uses an online document management system and sends regular compliance alerts. It also will scan and upload all your essential legal documents and mail you physical copies as needed.

With representatives who are highly knowledgeable about business formation and maintenance, Northwest’s excellent customer service really stands out.

Incfile Registered Agent

Texas-based Incfile has been in business since 2004. They have a good reputation for providing high-quality services at a lower price point than competitors such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer.

Incfile provides a free year of registered agent services with LLC formation. Among other things, the company scans all company-related documents so you can view them online, and it physically mails you important legal documents.

Entrepreneurs will especially appreciate additional features like banking offers, business contract templates, business website offers, and other physical items such as a corporate seal.

Important Considerations

  • Service of process and receiving a summons mean the same thing. Being “served papers” can also mean service of process.
  • Clarify exactly who is serving as your registered agent and what address that person or entity will use.
  • Even if you’re not available at the address provided for your registered agent, a summons can still legally be delivered there.
  • If you are acting as your own registered agent and receive service of process, we recommend contacting an attorney. You should also talk to your attorney about any other legal matters pertaining to your business.

Service of Process Frequently Asked Questions

What is a registered agent?

A registered agent is a person or entity who receives and sends legal documents on behalf of your LLC. Depending on the state, a registered agent may be called a statutory agent, resident agent, or an agent for service of process.

Most states require that you appoint a registered agent when your company is formed. To learn more about your state’s requirements, visit our state-specific guides.

Who can be a registered agent?

Any person or entity can be a registered agent if they are at least 18 years old (in the case of a person), have a physical address in the state where the company was formed, and are available at the given address to receive documents during regular business hours.

Although you can be your own registered agent, we recommend you consider hiring an experienced and reliable registered agent service like ZenBusiness, Incfile, or Northwest to handle this portion of your business needs.

How much does a registered agent cost?

Registered agent service ranges from about $50 to $300. However, this cost is usually worth paying because a registered agent service will save you time and money over the long term.

What is a service of process agent?

A service of process agent is another name for a registered agent, a resident agent, or a statutory agent. The majority of states use the term registered agent, but California and West Virginia refer to registered agents as service of process agents.