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Registered Agent Service

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Can I Be My Own Registered Agent—Answered

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Your business must appoint a registered agent to receive documents in legal matters, including notice of lawsuit. Our reliable registered agent service fulfills this requirement. You get:

  • Same-day documents from our local offices in all 50 states.
  • Immediate online access to state forms with our address and, where required, our signature
  • Annual fees from $89Multi-Year Discount to $99 /year per state with no additional charges
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In most U.S. states, you need to appoint a registered agent before you can form or expand your organization. You’ll do so when submitting the appropriate documents to the secretary of state or equivalent governing body, and your agent will accept legal and government notices on your behalf.

To keep things simple, some organization owners ask a common question—“Can I be my own registered agent?” The short answer is “yes,” but you might want to think twice before doing so. This guide will explain why this is the case and help you explore all the available options.

You’ll also learn about Harbor Compliance—one of the nation’s leading registered agent service providers that ensures all notices reach you swiftly.

Can You Be Your Own Registered Agent?

You can be your own registered agent, but only as an individual. With a few exceptions, most U.S. states don’t allow an organization to serve as its own registered agent.

To appoint yourself, you need to have a physical address in your state of operation. This is known as a registered office, and it’s where you’ll receive correspondence from the state and process servers. Your registered office cannot be a P.O. box or a mail forwarding service because legal process is always delivered in person.

How To Be Your Own Registered Agent

The process of appointing yourself as a registered agent depends on whether you’re forming a new organization or expanding an existing one. The main difference lies in the documents you’ll submit.

When registering a new legal entity, you can appoint yourself in your formation filings, which depend on your business structure:

If you’re expanding to another state and need a certificate of authority, you will appoint yourself in your foreign qualification documents.

Either way, you’ll need to provide your name and address in the registered agent section of your filings. Some states might ask for additional information like your email address to streamline communication. After your filings are accepted, you’ll be appointed as your organization’s registered agent and become the main point of contact with the secretary of state.

Should You Be Your Own Registered Agent?

Simplicity and cost reductions might seem like solid arguments in favor of appointing yourself as a registered agent. However, they’re shadowed by the four major disadvantages of this decision:

  1. No flexibility—You’d need to be available at the registered office at all times during regular business hours, or you might miss an important notice. Missing service of process can result in a missed court date in case of litigation, in which case the judge will resort to default judgment and rule against you.
  2. Privacy concerns—Your name and address will be given to the secretary of state and become a part of the public record. This can cause numerous issues, from junk mail to the discomfort of being served in person at your place of work or home.
  3. Geographical constraints—A registered agent must reside in the represented entity’s state. If you appoint yourself in one jurisdiction, you can’t do the same in any other state you might expand to.
  4. Continuous updates—Whenever a registered agent’s name or address is changed, the secretary of state must be notified as soon as possible. Forgetting to do so amid all your other responsibilities is natural but not tolerated, so it can result in the administrative dissolution of your organization and prevent you from operating in the state.

Alternatives to Using Yourself as a Registered Agent

If you don’t want to expose yourself to the aforementioned limitations, you have two general options when appointing a registered agent:

  1. Another individual who resides in the state and is of legal age (e.g., a friend, family member, or employee)
  2. A domestic or foreign organization authorized to transact in your state of operation

The first option isn’t particularly appealing since other individual agents might run into the same issues as you, especially when it comes to availability. They might be absent for various reasons, such as:

  • Travel
  • Other engagements
  • Illness and emergencies

If any of the above happens, the agent might miss your notice and complicate legal matters. That’s why organizations serving as registered agents (also known as commercial agents) are typically considered a much safer option.

Like any other business, they have systems in place and sufficient staff to ensure your correspondence never goes unnoticed. If you’d like such peace of mind, Harbor Compliance can be an excellent option.

Registered Agent Service by Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance offers a comprehensive Registered Agent Service that ensures your notices always reach you timely. It encompasses everything you need to stay on top of your correspondence, most notably:

  • A local office in any state your organization covers
  • Same-day electronic delivery of time-sensitive notices and a phone call in case of legal action
  • Convenient notice management and access to pre-filled state forms through the secure Client Portal

By signing up for our Registered Agent Service, you’ll meet an important state requirement and be one step closer to seamless operations. If you need help meeting your other obligations, we offer a wide array of services you can use. The following table shows some of the most highly sought-after solutions from our extensive portfolio:

Category Services
Expedited document filing and retrieval
Comprehensive entity lifecycle management
Tax registration and management
Beneficial ownership information reporting
Nonprofit formation
Business licensing support

Appointing Yourself vs. Partnering With Harbor Compliance

Our Registered Agent Service eliminates all of the aforementioned issues you might run into if you appoint yourself (or another individual) as a registered agent. Engaging with Harbor Compliance brings many benefits, most notably:

  • Privacy—Appointing us means that our name and address are given to the secretary of state, so your information stays out of the public record.
  • Security—We protect your data with strong encryption, cloud monitoring, confidentiality agreements, and various other security measures.
  • Nationwide presence—We have local offices in all U.S. states and territories, so you can appoint us in as many jurisdictions as you wish.
  • Reliability—Our offices are open at all times during business hours, and someone is always available to receive your notice.
  • Convenience and discretion—All notices are sent to your Client Portal, so there’s no risk of receiving them in front of your family, team members, or clients. You can access and manage them easily, regardless of your location.

How To Appoint Harbor Compliance as Your Registered Agent

You can appoint us as your registered agent in the following three scenarios:

  • Forming a new organization
  • Expanding from another jurisdiction
  • Changing your registered agent

Forming a New Legal Entity

If you’re registering a new organization and want to expedite the process, you can leverage our three entity formation services:

  1. Incorporation
  2. Nonprofit formation
  3. LLC formation

Choose your preferred service, and we’ll complete the entire registration process on your behalf. We’ll submit all the necessary documentation and appoint Harbor Compliance as your registered agent.

If you want to take a more involved approach to registration, you can sign up for our Registered Agent Service separately and appoint us by taking the following steps:

  1. Order the service.
  2. Find the address of our local office in the Client Portal.
  3. Complete our pre-filled formation filings and submit them to the secretary of state or similar regulatory body.

Expanding From Another Jurisdiction

Expanding your operations is no easy feat, and the last thing you need is regulatory setbacks. Our Foreign Qualification Service package lets you avoid them and makes the expansion far more effortless.

All you need to do is complete a simple signup wizard, and we’ll file the necessary paperwork to obtain your certificate of authority. We’ll also provide the Registered Agent Service at no additional cost for a year, helping you reduce qualification costs.

Changing Your Registered Agent

If you’ve already appointed yourself but changed your mind—or you’d like to replace your third-party agent —we can complete the change in your name.

While ordering our Registered Agent Service, you’ll see the Add Change of Agent Service option right before checkout. Select it and complete the purchase, and we’ll update the secretary of state without your involvement.

Registered Agent FAQs

Here, you’ll see some of the most commonly asked questions about registered agents. For additional guidance, visit our robust Information Center.

A registered agent is an individual or organization that accepts and forwards service of process and other official correspondence.

In most states, you’re legally obligated to appoint a registered agent before forming or expanding your organization.

A registered agent can be any individual of legal age with a physical address in your state of operation or another organization.

Most secretary of state websites let you perform a business search where you can see a legal entity’s registered agent.

Meet the Registered Agent Requirement With Harbor Compliance

While it’s technically possible to serve as your own registered agent, most organization owners don’t need yet another responsibility. Order our Registered Agent Service to outsource it to us, and you can keep focusing on meaningful work.

If you want to assess your organization’s current regulatory standing and uncover any issues timely, you can also get a free Harbor Compliance Score™. We can help you meet all the necessary obligations, so reach out to us to inquire about our additional services.

We also offer an advanced software solution that helps you effortlessly manage licenses, corporate records, tax obligations, and other aspects of compliance. Schedule a demonstration to see it in action.

To learn about registered agents in specific states and territories, refer to the following table:

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