Do I Need A Registered Agent in Every State? (Answered)

Delina Chantel Yasmeh
Published by Delina Chantel Yasmeh | Author
Last updated: June 21, 2024
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The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper estimated that around 25% of established LLCs (those operating for over 5 years) conduct business in at least one state beyond their formation state.

As a multi-state LLC owner in the US, you may wonder if you need a registered agent in every state your business operates in.

To help you answer this question, we teamed up with our licensed LLC experts with over a decade of experience in the industry and spent 10 weeks researching different registered agent requirements for all states.

This post will help you determine if you should have a registered agent in every state and the benefits of doing so.

Quick Summary

  • You need a registered agent in every state to keep your business entity in the right standing with the Secretary of State.
  • If you expand your business to a new state, you must name a registered agent with a physical address there.
  • A registered agent is responsible for handling all correspondence and legal notices on behalf of your business.
  • I highlight that a registered agent must have a physical address in the state of business and must be of legal age.

Do I Need A Registered Agent in Every State?

A registered agent smiling

Yes, you need a registered agent in every state.

Businesses that operate in more than one state should have a resident agent office in each state to act as a contact point with the Secretary of State of that jurisdiction.

A registered agent is a business entity or an individual authorized to handle legal correspondence, accept service of process, and initial business filing paperwork on behalf of a limited liability company.

From our LLC formation experience, we had to appoint a registered agent during the application process.

Also, when our Texas business was expanding to Illinois, we applied for a foreign qualification to operate there and then named a registered agent authorized to transact in Illinois.

"You can decide to work with one national registered agent that's authorized to transact in all 50 states in the U.S.; this way, you name the same agent with a different state address based on where your business expands into"

- Jon Morgan, CEO, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter

Requirements For a Registered Agent in the U.S.

Top view of contracts needed

Different jurisdictions have different regulations about registered agents, but here are the general requirements for being a company’s registered agent across the U.S.:

  • Must have a physical address in the state of business
  • Must be a resident of the state (if it's an individual)
  • Must be available throughout normal office hours to handle legal papers
  • Must be of legal age (if it's a person)
  • Must be authorized to provide registered agent services
  • Must be authorized to transact business in the state (if it's a foreign company/business entity)

Some states have more stringent rules. For instance, in Virginia, registered agents must be attorneys or members of the corporation's management [1].

Therefore, we recommend confirming the prerequisites in each state to see whether you qualify.

How To Maintain a Registered Agent in All States?

As your business expands into new regions, you must maintain a registered agent in all the states you transact.

Based on our practical experience, here's how:

1. Be Your Own Registered Agent

Using own laptop to become registered agent

You can be your own registered agent for your U.S.-based business.

During your business formation, you’ll fill out your registered agent information on the registered agent form, and the SOS will approve if you meet the criteria.

While business owners can choose to be their own registered agents if they meet the state's requirements, it can be challenging if they manage a series of LLCs in different states.

2. Hire A National Registered Agent Service

A national registered agent is a company that's authorized to provide registered agent services in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia.

If you scale your business into new states, you must appoint a registered agent in each state where you begin doing business.

You can have multiple registered agents for each state you move into, but dealing with various registered agents can be a hassle.

If you sign up for a service that provides registered agent services throughout all 50 states, your company can expand without any hassle.

Why Do You Need A Registered Agent in Every State?

Showing where to write signature

Here's a detailed description of the benefits of having a multi-state registered agent for your business:

1. Access To Different Addresses For Your LLC Series

If you're opening business entities in different states, you must have a physical address in each of them.

For our LLC, hiring an authorized multi-state registered agent with physical addresses in other foreign states was an efficient way to get different registered addresses for our business.

2. Solid Privacy

Privacy concept on cyber security

By using a qualified resident agent, you may be confident that you will receive any service of process quickly and discreetly because these legal documents are delivered to the agent's physical address [2].

3. Avoid Compliance Risks

A statutory agent will assist you in maintaining compliance, avoiding needless state fines, and preserving your business's good standing in the state where it was formed or is otherwise qualified to transact.

4. More Time and Freedom 

Checking watch for time and thinking do i need a registered agent in every state

If you hire a professional registered agent, they have offices in different states.

Their staff is also available to handle all legal papers for your business during regular hours.

This gives you more time and freedom to focus on other essential areas of your enterprise.

Related Articles:

FAQs

Is There a Registered Agent Available in All 50 States?

Yes, there's a registered agent available in all 50 states. Hiring a registered agent with a national reach is essential to help you scale your business worry-free.

What States Do Not Require a Registered Agent?

All 50 states require a registered agent. If you want to conduct business in any of them, you must appoint one.

References:

  1. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title13.1/chapter12/section13.1-1015/
  2. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/service_of_process

About The Author

Author
Delina Chantel Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, specializes in Mergers and Acquisitions at Deloitte and PwC, managing billion-dollar transactions. Educated in Accountancy at California State University and holding advanced degrees from Loyola Law School, she is highly skilled in tax law. Delina also dedicates time to pro bono work for women and children.
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Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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