What is a Resident Agent?
If you’re looking to form a business entity, such as an LLC or a corporation, you need
to designate a registered agent to receive notices of
lawsuits and government documents on behalf of your business. States use different terms for
“registered agent,” but they all refer to the same thing. One such term is “resident agent.”
The states that use the local term “resident agent” include the following:
- Rhode Island
- Washington DC*
*Term used only for Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships, and Family
Why Do You Need a Resident Agent?
A resident agent is required in each state where an entity registers to do business. While state
requirements vary, some businesses cannot serve as their own agent to accept legal papers. Instead,
the business needs to appoint an individual or a separate company to serve as the agent.
Entities must appoint a registered agent in every state where they plan to operate. The resident
agent must maintain a physical address where notices can be received. Examples of papers sent to
that physical address include court papers for
service of process, tax notices, and business
While resident agent services may not seem tremendously complex, the agent you designate assumes
significant responsibility and potential liability. They must be able to perform their duties
accurately and professionally.
How Do You Designate a Resident Agent?
While you can designate an individual to serve as your resident agent, a registered agent service
company offers additional privacy and reliability. Businesses registering in new states often
appoint a registered agent service company whose local offices meet the physical address
When you start the formation process for your business with the secretary of state, you will be asked
to designate a resident agent. While the process varies from state to state, you will likely need to
provide the contact information of your resident agent, including their address. In the event you
are looking to change your resident agent, you can
file an amendment with the secretary of state.
If you’re in the process of registering your own business and are looking to learn more about
appointing a resident agent, Harbor Compliance can help.