How To Find The Registered Agent Of A Corporation (Guide)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: June 21, 2024
Methodology
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Corporations usually have registered agents that act on their behalf to receive notices and other legal documents.

They have to make it clear who is the registered agent representing them, which means you stand a good chance of finding them.

As a legal expert and a business consultant with over a decade of experience, I will reveal the steps you should take to find a corporation's registered agent.

Quick Summary

  • You can find the registered agent of a corporation by visiting the Secretary of State's office or checking out the state's online business search.
  • Once you have a registered agent for your corporation, it becomes easier to grow and expand your business across different states.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in January 2024, 450,078 business applications were filed in the United States, underscoring the significance of registered agents in business formation and legal compliance.
  • In my experience, having a reliable registered agent is critical for maintaining good standing with state regulations and ensuring smooth legal operations for your business.

How To Find The Registered Agent Of A Corporation

Looking for a Registered Agent online

These are the steps you should take to find the registered agent of a corporation:

Contact The State Office

All businesses are required by law to register with the state’s business filing office before they can begin operating within that state.

In January 2024, as per the U.S. Census Bureau's Business Formation Statistics, there were 450,078 business applications filed across the United States, showing the dynamic nature of business formation and the critical role of registered agents in facilitating legal compliance [1].

If you have an idea of the state where the corporation was registered, head on over to the state office and inquire with the Secretary of State about the corporation’s registered agent.

You can also check their website, as they will usually include this information there.

Bottom view of business persons having an agreement

From my experience, finding a corporation's registered agent was straightforward once I knew where to look. You can find the registered agent information and the corporation it represents if it is registered in a state that has an online business entity search.

If the state has, go on to the Secretary of State’s website and look out for tabs like "business entities" or "search business entities."

Once you have gotten to this point, simply search for the company's exact name to avoid confusion.

Once it pops up, you will find its public information and documents.

Make sure you find the corporation’s articles of organization, or articles of incorporation, as this is where you will find their registered agent’s information.

Who Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is a legal expert or firm that handles all legal correspondence on behalf of a business entity or corporation. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), over 31.7 million small businesses were registered in the United States as of 2020, indicating the broad scale of enterprises requiring such services [2].

To become a registered agent, you will need to satisfy the requirements in your chosen state and accept appointments from businesses and corporations.

Why Do Corporations Need a Registered Agent?

Registered Agent using laptop

Corporations need a registered agent because it is required by law in most states that they have one.

From my experience, this is because this agent will serve as a means of contact between the government and the company itself.

You should also know that for every state your business operates in, there must be a registered agent there, and the government must have the physical address of the registered agent [3].

These are the legal consequences of not maintaining a registered agent:

  • Legal and Financial Penalties: Businesses failing to maintain a registered agent may face financial penalties, late fees, and the potential loss of good standing with the state, affecting their ability to legally operate.
  • Risk of Default Judgments: Without a registered agent, a business may not receive legal notices, such as lawsuit documents, leading to default judgments against the business for failing to respond to legal actions.
  • Loss of Business Licensure: Continuous non-compliance with maintaining a registered agent can result in the administrative dissolution of the business, stripping it of its legal capacity to conduct business.
  • Missed Important Notifications: A lack of a registered agent can mean missing critical government notifications, including tax forms and renewal notices, leading to non-compliance with tax laws and additional fines.

What Are The Requirements For Becoming A Registered Agent?

Clipped documents for Registered Agent Requirements

The requirements for becoming a registered agent are quite simple and include the following:

  • The registered agent must reside in the state where your company is registered.
  • The registered agent must have a physical address where legal documents can be delivered.
  • The registered agent must be at least 18 years old.
  • The registered agent must abide by all state-specific laws and guidelines to be classified as one.
  • The registered agent must be available to receive mail and sign official documents during normal business hours, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"In many states, either employees or owners are permitted to serve as the business's designated representatives."

- Delina Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, Distinguished Expert in Mergers & Acquisitions

Why You Would Need To Find The Registered Agent Of A Corporation

Staring at a document requirement

You would need to find a registered agent of a corporation in cases where you have difficulties reaching out to the corporation directly.

When you want to serve a legal notice or service of process to this corporation, a process server has to know the corporation's registered agent so that they can deliver your legal information to them.

A process server serves legal correspondence to a corporation involved in a court case [4].

FAQs

Must My Corporation’s Address Be The Same As My Registered Agent’s Address?

No, your corporation’s address must not be the same as your registered agent’s address. The address of your own registered agent should also be in a physical location.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Registered Agent?

It costs between $100 and $300 to hire a registered agent. However, this depends on the individual or company and the services offered.

Can I Become My Company’s Registered Agent?

Yes, you can become your company’s registered agent. However, it is better to hire a third party so that you can manage your business much better.

What Is the Role Of A Registered Agent?

The role of a registered agent is to serve as an intermediary between your corporation and the outside world. They help receive legal correspondence from individuals, organisations, and the government on behalf of your corporation.

References:

  1. https://www.census.gov/econ/bfs/current/index.html
  2. https://advocacy.sba.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Small-Business-FAQ-2020.pdf
  3. https://www.sos.wa.gov/corporations-charities/frequently-asked-questions-faqs/faq-registered-agent
  4. https://napps.org/faq/What-is-a-process-server-and-why-do-I-need-to-hire-one.aspx

About The Author

Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Jon Morgan, MBA, LLM, has over ten years of experience growing startups and currently serves as CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter. Educated at UC Davis and Harvard, he offers deeply informed guidance. Beyond work, he enjoys spending time with family, his poodle Sophie, and learning Spanish.
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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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