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One of the key requirements in starting a business is finding a Registered Agent. A Registered Agent, also known as an agent for service of process, statutory agent or resident agent, accepts your business’s official documents and ensures that you receive these important notifications from various government agencies.
So what states require Registered Agents? All of them! Having a Registered Agent is a requirement in all 50 states. There is no way around not having one, and assigning a Registered Agent is often a requirement when submitting your state filings.
Resident Agent Requirements in All 50 States
Luckily, the guidance around Registered Agent requirements is clear and consistent across the country. In general, Registered Agents must:
- Have a physical office within the state
- Be available during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m.)
- Receive important “official” correspondence and provide notification of receipt
- Be at least 18 years old
Your Secretary of State's website will highlight any additional requirements and responsibilities of a Registered Agent. It will also provide access to the different forms and fee schedules. In almost all cases, you will name your Registered Agent in your Articles of Incorporation when you first register your business. Changing your agent requires a different form and likely a fee.
Here are the Registered Agent compliance requirements in all 50 states. Select your state from the drop-down menu:
Registered Agent Requirements in Florida
To operate as a Registered Agent in Florida, they must have a physical address. A P.O. Box or virtual address is not acceptable. They must also be available during normal business hours. Unlike most other states, Registered Agents operating out of Florida are not required to keep copies of communications and contact data on file. Official documents and correspondence are accepted and passed on to the business being represented.
Registered Agent Requirements in Michigan
Business entities must assign a Registered Agent or registered office when they file their Articles of Organization. The agent or office must have a physical address in Michigan. You can act as your own Registered Agent in Michigan but will need to be available in during normal business hours. However, if your job requires travel and meetings outside the office, being your own Registered Agent may not be a good idea.
Registered Agent Requirements in Delaware
Not all businesses keep normal business hours. If that's the case, then being your own Registered Agent is not a good option. Even though you can serve as your own Registered Agent in Delaware, you'll need to make sure that you have a physical location and the availability to accept important correspondence from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Registered Agent Requirements in California
Known as the Agent for Service of Process, the duties mirror those of Registered Agents in other states. For California, that would include having a physical location in the state and availability during normal business hours. A business owner in California can act as their own agent. They can also assign an employee or family member. But it's important that whoever takes on the job is compliant with the requirements of an agent.
Registered Agent Requirements in Pennsylvania
Referred to as a Registered Agent or Commercial Resident Office Provider (CROP), their main duties include receiving official documents from the Pennsylvania Department of State. A virtual address or P.O. Box cannot be used to accept official correspondence. The CROP must have a physical address and be available during normal business hours to accept official correspondence and other official mail.
Registered Agent Requirements in Massachusetts
Business owners in Massachusetts can act as their own Registered Agents if they are over the age of 18. They also need a physical location within the state and must be present in that location to accept all official correspondence. This would include state government notices and legal correspondence, including summons, subpoenas and lawsuits. Most businesses, however, opt to hire a service to meet the state's Registered Agent requirements.
Registered Agent Requirements in New York
A New York Registered Agent, also called an Agent for Service of Process, accepts all official correspondence from the NYS Department of State Division of Corporations and forwards this important mail to the business owner that it's representing. The agent is appointed when the business submits its formation paperwork. Like the other states, the agent must have an office within the state it represents.
Why Is Having a Registered Agent So Important?
At some point in your business formation process — or while filing your paperwork with the Secretary of State — you will be asked for the name and address of your Registered Agent. Without this information, you will be unable to form your business.
Here's what having a Registered Agent provides for your business:
Freedom and Flexibility
While you run your business, meet with clients, work off-site and handle the day-to-day operations and demands of the job, you will need to ensure that your important documents are received and processed and not buried in your inbox.
Having a Registered Agent gives you the peace of mind that your “official” documents are not neglected so that you can focus on your company. With a Registered Agent, someone will always be available to accept official correspondence, ensuring that important documents are not missed or lost.
Handling and Processing of Your Important Mail
A Registered Agent will be available during business hours to receive your important mail. They will make sure that the mail is received and that you are notified. Correspondence that is deemed important can include:
- Federal and state notices
- Corporate filing notifications
- Tax bills
- Subpoenas and summonses
- Wage garnishments
It’s worth noting here that your Registered Agent will not be handling all of your mail, but only the important correspondence that will be delivered directly to them. So you’ll still need to sort through your invoices, payments, subscriptions, junk mail, etc.
Assigning a Registered Agent to your business also provides privacy protection. Instead of the address of your business or home, all important correspondence will be sent directly to your Registered Agent. This will be the address that will be included as part of the public records.
Having your Registered Agent receive lawsuits, subpoenas and summons can also save you from being served while meeting with clients or customers. Though businesses are served every day with legal notices, it can be embarrassing for this to occur while you are working. And it can also influence customer sentiment with the assumption of guilt.
Why Being Your Own Registered Agent May Be a Bad Idea
Having a Registered Agent assigned to your business can cost as much as a few hundred dollars a year. Some companies even offer free Registered Agent service either for the first year or as part of other package offerings. Each business owner will need to weigh the options of whether to pay the cost to hire a Registered Agent or to act as their own agent.
Weighing the cost versus the benefits of having a designated Registered Agent is a decision that each individual business owner will need to make, but here are a few points to consider on why acting as your own agent may not be a good idea:
- You need to have a physical address.
- You like your freedom.
- You don’t want to risk missing important mail.
- You could get served subpoenas and other legal notices in public.
Bizee's Registered Agent Service
No matter where your business is located, Bizee can provide the peace of mind you may be looking for when it comes to having a Registered Agent service. And if you plan to incorporate your business through Bizee’s business packages, the first year is free and just $119 a year after that.
Peter Mavrikis is an author and editor with over 25 years of experience in publishing. He has worked as the Editorial Director for Barron’s Educational Series, as well as Kaplan Test Prep, where he ran the test prep, foreign language, and study guide.
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