Easy Ordering:
Get a 5-10% discount for 2+ years.
Our Service Fee $99.00
Discount -$0.00
Total $99.00
Registered Agent Service

Order $89 to $99 registered agent service online for immediate access to our address and state forms. No additional charges.

Registered Agent vs. Organizer—Differences Explained

- Rated 4.4/5 by 104 clients on Google

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
A preview of our Registered Agent software
Registered Agent Education
What Is a Registered Agent?Can I Serve as My Own Agent?Service of ProcessOur AddressesNational Registered Agent ServiceCommercial vs. Noncommercial Registered AgentsChanging Your AgentThe "Free Agent" LieBest Registered Agent ServiceWhat Is a Registered Agent for LLCCan I Be My Own Registered AgentChanging a Registered AgentRegistered Agent AddressRegistered Agent CostsHow to Find a Registered Agent For an LLCRegistered Agent for Service of ProcessThe Secretary of State Registered AgentRegistered Agent vs. OrganizerDoes a Registered Agent Have To Live in the State
State Information
Local Names
USA Registered AgentResident AgentStatutory AgentLLC Registered AgentNonprofit Registered Agent
Special Agency
Charitable Registered AgentBOC-3 Process AgentD.C. FCC Appointment

Forming a new business can sometimes involve more than one party, each with a specific role to ensure the venture's success. Two prominent roles in this process are the registered agent and organizer. While technically, the founder can serve as both, many opt to delegate the duties. If you choose to do that, you should understand the core responsibilities of each of these roles.

This concise registered agent vs. organizer comparison explains the key differences between these roles. In this article, we’ll also introduce Harbor Compliance, a registered agent service provider with nationwide coverage.

What Is the Difference Between a Registered Agent and an Organizer?

When forming a business, you might encounter unfamiliar terms on state forms, such as registered agent and organizer, and wonder what the differences are.

An organizer is a person or organization in charge of forming an LLC. An LLC organizer is responsible for ensuring formation documents like Articles of Organization are accurate and correctly filed, but their responsibilities don't generally extend beyond the initial formation.

A registered agent is responsible for handling legal and government correspondence on behalf of a legal entity. The agent must be listed on the formation document for the state to approve it, so, like organizers, their obligations exist from the beginning. Unlike organizers, the registered agent’s duties extend beyond formation and continue throughout the business's lifecycle. As long as the business is operating, it must have a registered agent appointed on state records.

The Role of a Registered Agent in Business Formation

Appointing a registered agent is a mandatory legal requirement in nearly all U.S. states and territories. Most states will reject formation documents if the applying entity doesn't designate a statutory agent or revoke the organization's certificate of authority if it doesn't maintain an agent.

As the official point of contact between your business and the state, the agent helps you stay on top of legal and government notifications during and after formation. For instance, letters from the secretary of state are typically sent to your agent, who forwards them to you. Without a registered agent, your business would miss important notifications, resulting in the following:

  • Default judgments against the business
  • Loss of good standing with the jurisdiction
  • Administrative dissolution by the state

Who Can Serve as a Registered Agent?

To serve as a registered agent, individuals or organizations must meet several regulatory requirements, depending on the specific state where the business operates.

In most states, you have three options when appointing a resident agent:

  1. An individual of legal age residing in the state (e.g., an employee, friend, family member, or even yourself)
  2. A domestic organization licensed to operate in the state
  3. A foreign service provider authorized to do business in the state

Beyond meeting these basic criteria, a statutory agent must have a physical address in the state where the business is registered—P.O. boxes and virtual offices are not accepted. A physical address ensures your agent can receive government documents in person and forward them promptly to the appropriate individual in your organization.

The Responsibilities of a Registered Agent

A registered agent's primary responsibility is receiving and forwarding legal documents. Still, some agents may offer other services as an additional value-add, which may include:

  • Tracking and notification of approaching deadlines—They can alert you about filing deadlines, including approaching license renewal, annual report filing, and court deadlines.
  • Document organization and storage—The agent keeps a record of all the important documents received and sent, providing an extra layer of security.
  • Business expansion services—During foreign qualification, you must appoint an agent to receive legal documents in the new state. A certificate of authority, which gives your business the authority to transact business in the new state, is granted to organizations that have successfully completed this process.
  • Assistance with filing annual reports—Depending on the offered services, an agent may also help you submit annual reports to the state.
  • Business consultation—Some agents also provide advice and guidance based on their expertise and experience.

The Role of an Organizer in Business Formation

An organizer is an individual or organization that takes the lead in setting up a new business. They are responsible for preparing the legally required documents during entity formation, such as Articles of Organization, and submitting them to the state.

Who Can Serve as an Organizer?

While a registered agent must meet several state requirements, such as being a resident of the state and having a street address within the jurisdiction, qualifications for an organizer are less specific. Anyone who is authorized by the initiators of the business can act as an organizer, including the following:

  • One of the business owners
  • A business formation service provider
  • An attorney representing the business owners
  • A trusted advisor, such as an accountant or business consultant

The organizer must be someone who understands the business formation process and can accurately complete and file the necessary paperwork.

The Responsibilities of an Organizer

An organizer plays a critical role in the formation of a business. Their responsibilities include:

  • Drafting the Articles of Organization—This is the primary legal document required to form an LLC. The Articles of Organization includes essential information about the business, such as its name, purpose, and initial registered agent.
  • Filing the formation documents with the appropriate state agency—Once the articles are drafted, the organizer files them with the secretary of state or similar agency.
  • Transitioning responsibilities to the new business entity—Once the business is established, the organizer's role is typically complete. They hand over control to the newly elected directors or managers.

While the organizer's role is usually temporary, their impact on the business is long-lasting. The organizer sets the foundation for the business, and their work influences how the business operates long after formation.

Can the Registered Agent and Organizer Be the Same Person?

Yes, a registered agent and organizer can be the same person. Commercial agent providers often offer formation services as well, filling in both the registered agent and organizer lines. This process involves no additional work since the agent either lists the client or themselves on the form.

Some agents may choose not to act as organizers, usually due to the increased responsibilities, especially if they’re individuals. Still, making your agent your organizer is generally not problematic, provided they are willing and comfortable with assuming both roles.

Can You Appoint an Individual as Your Registered Agent/Organizer?

Yes, you can appoint an individual both as your registered agent and organizer. In most cases, the business owner lists themselves or another individual as the organizer, rather than an entity.

However, appointing an individual (whether yourself or another natural person) as your registered agent comes with several downsides. Check out the following table for more details:

Downsides Explanation
Limited availability If the individual is out of the office due to an emergency or other commitments, you could miss time-sensitive correspondence.
Privacy concerns If you serve as your own agent, your address will become a public record, which can lead to inconveniences, such as receiving junk mail or being served in front of family members or business associates.
Resource limitations An individual might not have the resources to manage these responsibilities effectively, especially for larger businesses. Whether you're considering yourself or another individual for the role, it can put a lot of pressure on one person.
Potential for errors Without a robust system for managing responsibilities, an individual might make errors, such as missing deadlines or missing documents.

To avoid the setbacks of designating an individual as your agent, consider a professional service with the expertise and resources to handle the role effectively. For example, Harbor Compliance offers a robust software solution for streamlining the responsibilities of a registered agent.

Comprehensive Registered Agent Service by Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance's Registered Agent Service is a comprehensive solution designed to keep your business in good standing. Here's how we ensure you never miss an important notice:

  • Your correspondence is received at our registered office in your state.
  • The notifications are processed and forwarded electronically on the same day.
  • You receive an email with a link to the secure Client Portal, where you can view the notice.
  • If your company is involved in litigation, we'll give you a phone call to ensure you're aware of all important legal notices.

We also offer ancillary features at no extra cost. When you log into the Client Portal, you'll find pre-filled state forms that simplify the filing process and minimize errors.

If you're a multistate organization, our robust software allows you to manage notices from different U.S. states and territories with ease, no matter your location.

We understand that appointing a registered agent is just one of many requirements your LLC must meet. That's why we offer additional solutions to support you every step of the way. The table below lists some of our most popular services:

Category Services
Expedited document management
Business lifecycle support
Ownership and leadership tracking
Tax-related services
Nonprofit formation
Business licensing support

Appointing an Individual vs. Designating Harbor Compliance as Your Registered Agent

Choosing an individual as a registered agent might seem like a convenient choice, but it has several downsides. Personal time off, sickness, or other obligations can lead to the agent being unavailable when important notices arrive, resulting in missed correspondence and potential legal issues for your business.

To ensure you're on top of notices, partner with Harbor Compliance. Choosing us comes with several benefits, including:

  • Constant availability—Our local offices are open during regular business hours, ensuring someone is always available to receive legal or tax documents.
  • Discreet service—We deliver your notices through the Client Portal, eliminating the discomfort that comes with receiving them in front of employees.
  • Privacy protection—Once you appoint us, our name and address are given to the secretary of state instead of yours, protecting you from unwanted correspondence.
  • Secure handling—We use industry-standard security measures and protocols to protect your notices from unauthorized access.
  • Constant support—If you encounter any issues while using our service, you can visit our comprehensive Help Center or reach out to our team.
  • Nationwide service—We have local offices in all U.S. states and territories, allowing you to manage correspondence from multiple states conveniently.

Choosing Harbor Compliance as your registered agent helps you stay on top of state requirements and provides peace of mind, knowing that your official business correspondence is in capable hands.

How To Appoint Harbor Compliance as Your Registered Agent

You can partner with Harbor Compliance under three distinct scenarios:

  1. Forming a new business
  2. Foreign qualifying in a new state
  3. Changing your registered agent

Forming a New Business

If you're launching a new business, you can leverage any of our three entity formation services:

  1. LLC formation
  2. Incorporation
  3. Nonprofit formation

Choose the service that suits your organization's structure, and we'll handle everything, including gathering and filing the required documents—such as Articles of Incorporation for profit or nonprofit corporations or Articles of Organization and appointing Harbor Compliance as your registered agent.

If you prefer to handle the registration yourself, you can still order our Registered Agent Service separately and appoint us in three steps:

  1. Sign up for the service.
  2. Find our local office address in the Client Portal.
  3. Complete the pre-filled forms and file them with the secretary of state.

Foreign Qualifying in a New State

Growing a business to a new state may seem straightforward, but it often comes with regulatory hurdles due to differences in statutes across U.S. states and territories. To make the process quick and effortless, you can leverage our Foreign Qualification Service. After you complete the signup wizard, we will:

  • Gather the necessary documents
  • Secure your certificate of authority
  • Appoint Harbor Compliance as your registered agent and provide the service for a year at no additional cost

Changing Your Registered Agent

If you're not satisfied with your current registered agent, our Change of Registered Agent Service can facilitate a smooth transition. You can order the service in two steps:

Registered Agent FAQs

Below, you'll find answers to some of the frequently asked questions about registered agent regulations. If you don't find what you're looking for, visit our Information Center.

Yes. A business can have a different registered agent in each state where it's registered. However, it's much more efficient to work with a nationwide registered agent provider with offices in every state.

Yes, a registered agent can resign. If a registered agent resigns, the business must promptly appoint a new one to maintain its good standing with the state.

A registered agent must meet certain requirements, such as being a resident of the state or a corporation authorized to do business in the state. In most states, organizers only need to be of legal age. Still, they should be individuals who understand the business formation process and can accurately complete and file the necessary paperwork.

An organizer can be a non-commercial registered agent as long as they meet specific requirements, such as:

  • Being a resident of the state where the business is registered
  • Having a physical address in the state
  • Being of legal age
  • Maintaining regular business hours

Choose Harbor Compliance's Registered Agent Service

Harbor Compliance is a dependable ally for your registered agent needs and other regulatory requirements. Order our Registered Agent Service and let our team of experts handle your correspondence, giving you the freedom to focus on growing your business.

Beyond the wide range of services, we've developed a sophisticated software solution that gives you complete control over statutory obligations in multiple states. Schedule a demonstration to see it in action.

To ensure your organization meets its other legal obligations, get a free Harbor Compliance Score™. If any of our additional services interest you, reach out to us.

To learn more about the specific requirements a registered agent must meet in different U.S. states and territories, refer to the following table:

Order Registered Agent Service

Easy Ordering: