In a COVID-19 World, Do You Know Who Your Registered Agents Are?

Posted on March 2, 2021 by James Gilmer in Business Compliance.
In a COVID-19 World, Do You Know Who Your Registered Agents Are?

In every state, business entities such as LLCs need to appoint a registered agent when they form or register. The registered agent’s job is to receive service of process at its physical location and forward it to the organization it represents. It’s a straightforward but critical responsibility.

To meet this requirement, many business owners designate themselves or a manager as the agent, using the company’s office address as the physical location. There’s convenience and perceived cost savings from doing this—after all, where else would that individual be during business hours?

As we know, COVID-19 continues to change the way we do business, sparking a widely adopted transition to remote working arrangements. Once-bustling offices are devoid of non-essential personnel, and in many cases, their legally appointed registered agents. As a result, these companies risk missing deliveries which can be much costlier. 

Although the COVID-19 pandemic may be subsiding, remote work is likely to remain a fixture of current business operations. But, the risk of registered agent noncompliance doesn’t have to be. Read on to learn how to review your organization’s registered agents, while making the appropriate changes to protect your company’s good standing.

How to Search for Your Organization’s Registered Agent

Unless you directly file your organization’s annual reports, or the organization is involved in ongoing legal proceedings, you may not know who your registered agents are. Thankfully, every state maintains a public database, making it easy enough to locate this information.

  1. Find your state’s corporation authority, usually the secretary of state.
  1. Navigate to the business entity search feature and enter your organization’s legal name. Make sure you use the exact spelling and punctuation.
  1. Click your organization in the results. On the record, you’ll see the name and address of your registered agent* in that state.
  1. If your organization registers in multiple states, or if you have more than one entity, repeat this process.

* Keep an eye on synonyms! Some states have different names for a registered agent. Maryland, for example, calls it a “resident agent.”  Arizona calls it a “statutory agent.”  These terms all refer to the same role

Depending on the age and size of your organization, you may find surprising results. State records may show outdated addresses, former employees and business partners, or attorneys or service companies with which you no longer do (or wish to do) business.

Each occurrence of an outdated registered agent can result in failed delivery of service of process, which can present consequences for your organization. 

How to Change Your Organization’s Registered Agent

Registered agents are a legal appointment, which means a filing is required to update its information. Most states also assess a nominal filing fee to record the change. This transaction is done with the secretary of state and is typically known as a “change of registered agent” filing. 

  1. Before you file, you need a new registered agent to represent your organization. That agent must consent to their appointment. If you are changing to a registered agent service company, you’ll have to sign up for their service first.
  1. Look up how to file a change of registered agent in your state. 
  1. Follow the state-specific instructions to file the change. This may be online, by mail, or even on the organization’s annual report.** 
  1. Once the state approves the change filing, you’ll receive confirmation. If you’re changing service providers, you’ll need to provide your current agent with a copy to cancel. In all cases, keep the original in your company’s records.
  1. If your organization registers in multiple states, or if you have more than one entity, repeat this process.

** Don’t let the prospect of paperwork stand in your way! We can prepare and file your change forms and state annual reports as additional services.

The Case for Now

As your organization looks beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, registered agent compliance doesn’t have to be another area of concern. By doing your due diligence now, you’ll ensure your company continues to receive critical deliveries. The right registered agent will provide additional entity management tools, such as annual report reminders and cloud-based software, minimizing organizational risk and supporting your ability to collaborate across multiple locations.

With Harbor Compliance as your registered agent, you benefit from a reliable, local presence in every state. Our nationwide offices receive and scan documents electronically and notify you the same day. We eliminate your need to file change paperwork with state agencies each time you move. Registered agent service includes complimentary access to our award-winning Entity Manager software.

All you need to have ready is your company name, contact information, and where you need service. Online ordering makes it easy to get started.

Have a book of business? Need assistance preparing and filing change of registered agent forms for your organization as an additional service. Contact us to discuss registered agent consolidation today.


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