Registered Agent FAQs
What is a Registered Agent?
Most states in the United States, including the District of Columbia, mandate by law that any business entity formed or doing business in the jurisdiction must designate and maintain a "registered agent" in the public record of the state. A registered agent, in United States business law, is an individual or business designated as a party who may receive Service of Process on the business entity's behalf. In some states this party may be referred to as a “resident agent” or “statutory agent”, but most states identify this function as that of a "registered agent". This could be an individual associated with the entity, a third party such as a registered agent service provider, the entity's attorney or another person or company that meets the guidelines set forth by the specific state.
What Does a Registered Agent Do?
A registered agent provides a legal physical address within a jurisdiction, at which process may be served on the entity in question. This physical address is often referred to as the "Registered Office" address. The registered agent’s primary function is to receive Service of Process on the entity’s behalf and to forward it to an appropriate individual within the served company. The registered agent may also receive notices and official documents such as reminders of annual report filing and tax payment requirements from a state. While not a tremendously complex service, the registered agent assumes a great deal of responsibility and potential liability and therefore must be able to perform the required activities accurately and professionally.
Why Do I Need a Registered Agent?
In most jurisdictions, failure to maintain a registered agent can result in dissolution or revocation of the entity's legal status, thereby rescinding its authority to transact business within the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions assess penalty fees for failure to have an active registered agent on record. The laws requiring business entities to appoint a registered agent are designed to protect the public by helping to insure that companies are not able to avoid litigation in jurisdictions in which they do business simply by making themselves difficult to locate.