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Registered Agent Service

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What Is a Registered Agent for LLCs? All You Need To Know

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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
A preview of our Registered Agent software

Like other filing entities, LLCs must appoint a registered agent with the secretary of state or equivalent body to operate in accordance with the law. If you’re unfamiliar with this requirement, you may wonder, “What is a registered agent for LLCs?”

An agent is obligatory in most jurisdictions, and they serve a simple but important purpose—accepting legal process and other official correspondence on your behalf.

This guide dives deep into registered agents’ responsibilities, qualifications, and everything else you need to know before appointing your agent. You’ll also learn how Harbor Compliance fulfills an agent’s duties and why partnering with us is an excellent way to avoid regulatory and legal escalations.

What Is an LLC Registered Agent?

A registered agent is an individual or organization that accepts and forwards legal and government notices to your company. By doing their job efficiently, your agent ensures you have enough time to respond to legal action or otherwise meet your obligations.

States and territories across the U.S. might have different names for registered agents, such as:

  • Resident agent
  • Statutory agent
  • Agent for service of process

Note that these are all synonyms, and the agent’s role is the same regardless of what they’re called in your jurisdiction. For example, “agent for service of process” doesn’t mean your agent will only relay lawsuits—they might also forward annual report notices and similar correspondence if the secretary of state doesn’t send them directly.

Do You Need a Registered Agent for Your LLC?

In most states, LLCs and other filing entities (corporations, nonprofits, etc.) are legally obligated to appoint a registered agent. Failing to do so can result in the rejection of your Articles of Organization (Articles of Incorporation for profit or nonprofit corporations).

If you run a multistate company or plan on expanding beyond your state of formation, you must have a registered agent in all jurisdictions you cover. With a few rare exceptions, new states won’t accept your foreign qualification filings without an agent.

Some jurisdictions (like New York) appoint the secretary of state as your registered agent by default, so you may not need to appoint another one. Such cases aren’t common, though, so you’ll most likely need to find an agent before you start the formation or foreign qualification process.

Besides, third-party agents are often more efficient and discreet than the secretary of state, so appointing them is a wise move.

Who Can Be a Registered Agent for an LLC?

In most cases, you have two broad options when choosing your registered agent:

  1. Individuals of legal age who reside in the represented entity’s state
  2. Domestic or foreign organizations authorized to do business in the state

An individual agent can be anyone from your friend or family member to an attorney or professional agent. You can appoint anyone who maintains a so-called registered office in the state. This is a physical location to which your notices can be delivered, and the agent must be available at the registered office at all times during regular business hours.

If your agent isn’t found at the office, they might miss your notice and complicate legal matters. For example, you’d be unaware that your company is involved in litigation and miss the court date. If this happens, a judge will resort to default judgment and rule in the plaintiff’s favor. This is the case even with trivial lawsuits you would otherwise win without issues.

As individuals are prone to absence for various reasons (such as travel, illness, and emergencies), partnering with another organization as your registered agent is a safer choice. They’re often referred to as commercial agents, and they have sufficient staff and solid systems in place to ensure your notices aren’t missed.

Can You Be the Registered Agent for Your LLC?

You’re legally allowed to serve as your company’s registered agent, but only as an individual—most states don’t allow LLCs to be their own agents. This might seem like the simplest way to meet the registered agent requirements, but it suffers from numerous drawbacks.

The first one is availability. If you appoint yourself, you’ll need to spend 40 hours a week at the registered office, which means you’ll lose all flexibility. Any absence might result in a missed notice, and you don’t need such looming threats.

Another significant issue is disrupted privacy. A registered agent’s name and address are publicly available, which many people aren’t comfortable with.

Other reasons you shouldn’t appoint yourself include the following:

  • You may be served at your home or place of work in front of your team or clients.
  • You’ll most likely deal with lots of junk mail as a result of your address being public.
  • You can’t appoint yourself in multiple jurisdictions, so you’ll need another agent anyway if you plan on expanding your company.
  • You’d need to update the secretary of state or similar governing authority of any changes to your address, which might slip your mind and cause trouble with the secretary of state.

How To Appoint a Registered Agent for an LLC

In most cases, a registered agent section will be included in your formation or foreign qualification documents. All you need to do is provide the necessary details, and your agent will be appointed.

Certain jurisdictions require the agent’s written consent for the appointment to be valid. The consent will either be included in the formation/foreign qualification documents or available as a separate form. Either way, the agent must sign the acceptance of the appointment before you submit your filings.

Note that your obligations don’t end when the registered agent is appointed. You must maintain them as long as they represent you, which means that any changes need to be reported to the secretary of state swiftly.

For example, if the agent changes their name or address, you need to submit a notice of change with new information. Failing to do so might lead to administrative dissolution, which means your rights to operate in a state are revoked.

If your agent resigns or you decide to appoint another one, you must file an agent change form as soon as possible. Not doing so is also grounds for administrative dissolution, so make sure to keep the secretary of state up to date at all times.

The good news is that you may not need to worry about updates if you appoint a commercial registered agent. They can notify the secretary of state of any changes on behalf of all represented entities and take this responsibility off your shoulders.

Who Should You Choose as Your Registered Agent?

With so many options to choose from, finding the right registered agent might seem tiring. To speed up the search, focus on the factors outlined in the following table:

Factor Explanation
Reliability No benefit can compensate for the risk of missing a notice due to the agent’s absence. Ask about the agent’s availability and ways they can ensure your correspondence doesn’t go unnoticed.
Privacy and discretion One of the main perks of appointing a third-party agent is that you won’t receive lawsuits in front of your clients, colleagues, or anyone else. Your agent should make this happen by delivering notices discreetly and keeping everything on a need-to-know basis.
Efficiency While your correspondence can be delivered by certified mail, this is far from the fastest approach. Your agent should have a more efficient approach, such as electronic delivery (preferably on the same day they receive your notice).
Support A good registered agent should go beyond the basic duty of receiving and forwarding your notice. Look for someone who can submit relevant updates to the secretary of state, alert you about time-sensitive legal matters, and otherwise make official communications more effortless.

Registered agents that check all of the above boxes are few and far between. If you need a trustworthy, efficient solution, Harbor Compliance can help.

Comprehensive Registered Agent Service by Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance combines extensive know-how and a well-established system to provide a robust Registered Agent Service—here’s how it works:

  1. We receive your correspondence at our local office in your state of operations.
  2. We process and forward the notice electronically on the same day.
  3. You get an email with a link to the secure Client Portal where you can access the notice.

Our service goes beyond forwarding official communications and includes useful ancillaries at no additional cost. When you enter the Client Portal, you’ll see pre-filled state forms that reduce the filing time and clerical errors. Plus, if your company is involved in litigation, we’ll give you a phone call to ensure you don’t miss important legal notices.

Your LLC must meet numerous requirements besides appointing a registered agent, and we’re here to support you every step of the way through our additional solutions, most notably:

Individual Registered Agents vs. Harbor Compliance

Due to the aforementioned availability issues, appointing a third-party registered agent might not be wise. You also saw the many drawbacks of appointing yourself, which many consider the worst option.

By stark contrast, commercial registered agents like Harbor Compliance can ensure complete peace of mind. The main reasons to partner with us include the following:

  • Constant availability—Our local offices are open during regular business hours, and someone from our team is always there to receive your notice. This means there’s virtually no risk of missed correspondence and related legal issues.
  • Privacy—By appointing us, you eliminate the risk of unwanted correspondence and junk mail at your home or office. Our information will be given to the secretary of state instead of yours, leaving your privacy intact.
  • Discretion—As we deliver your notices through the Client Portal, you don’t need to worry about being served in person or someone accessing sensitive legal information.
  • Security—Your information is kept safe with our industry-standard security measures and protocols, such as confidentiality agreements signed by all our team members.
  • Nationwide availability—We have local offices in all U.S. states and territories, so you can appoint us in as many jurisdictions as necessary. You can manage correspondence from multiple states conveniently since they’re all aggregated in the Client Portal.
  • Support—If you run into any issues or need help getting the most out of the Registered Agent Service, you can explore our Help Center or reach out to our team.

How To Appoint Harbor Compliance as Your Registered Agent

You can partner with Harbor Compliance in the following three scenarios:

  1. Forming a new company
  2. Expanding into a new state
  3. Changing your existing registered agent

Below, you’ll see breakdowns of each scenario alongside the steps to appointing us as your agent.

Forming a New Company

If you’re registering a new company, our LLC formation service is an excellent way to make the process quick and effortless. When you sign up, we’ll complete the registration on your behalf from start to finish—including the appointment of Harbor Compliance as your registered agent.

We also offer incorporation and nonprofit formation services to help other entity types get off the ground as quickly as possible.

If you prefer to form your company independently, you can order our Registered Agent Service as a standalone solution and take the following steps to appoint us:

  1. Sign up for the service.
  2. Open the Client Portal to find the address of our local office.
  3. Complete our pre-filled registration forms and submit them to the secretary of state.

Expanding Into a New State

If your company has outgrown its state of formation, we’re here to help you expand into new jurisdictions through our Foreign Qualification Service package.

Complete the signup wizard, and we will:

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

Changing Your Agent

You can use our Registered Agent Service even if you already have an agent but aren’t satisfied with them. We can complete the agent change in your name to spare you the hassle of doing it manually.

You’ll see the Add Change of Agent Service option right before checkout while ordering the Registered Agent Service. Select it, and we’ll notify the secretary of state of the change.

Registered Agent FAQs

Here, you’ll see some of the most frequently asked questions about registered agents. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, head to our Information Center.

In most states, a registered agent is legally required for LLCs and other filing entities, so you can’t operate without one.

A registered agent accepts and forwards service of process and other official communications to your company.

You can appoint someone from your company as a registered agent, but doing so carries the risk of receiving legal process at your place of work.

Your LLC can only have one registered agent on file within a given state. If you run a multistate organization, you need an agent in each jurisdiction.

Enjoy the Convenience of Our Registered Agent Service

Harbor Compliance makes it easy to meet the registered agent requirement and avoid worrying about missed notices. Order our Registered Agent Service today, and you’ll outsource an important responsibility to a team of experts.

To check whether your company is on top of its other obligations, you can also get a free Harbor Compliance Score™. We can help you address any red flags promptly, so reach out to us to inquire about our other services.

If you want better control over your regulatory obligations, we also offer an advanced compliance platformschedule a demonstration to see how it works.

To learn about the duties, qualifications, and other details on registered agents in specific jurisdictions, refer to the following table:

Continue reading “Can I Be My Own Registered Agent”

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