What is an LLC Registered Agent? (The Complete Guide)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: October 5, 2023
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You've just created your LLC and need to find a Registered Agent to file the required paperwork.

What is an LLC registered agent? What do they do? What are their responsibilities? Why does your company need one?

This article will provide the answer to these questions and discuss the importance of having an LLC registered agent for your business.

What Is the Role of a Registered Agent in an LLC?

An LLC Registered Agent (also called a statutory agent or a resident agent) is someone who has been authorized by the Secretary of State to act on behalf of a limited liability company, typically during formation or when filing annual reports with them.

The crucial role of an LLC's registered agent is that they are responsible for receiving important documents from government agencies, notifying you about them, and keeping copies of those documents on file so that your LLC can be in good standing with the state.

Find out what are the penalties if you do not have a registered agent.

Receiving Service of Process

Two women smiling on the camera

To begin with, a registered agent is responsible for the service of the process.

Service of process means that a party involved in the lawsuit or legal action can deliver court documents to another person, business, or organization by having them personally served with those papers.

According to state law, service of process must be done correctly and within strict timeframes; otherwise, your service could be voided, and the case dismissed.

If the service of process is successfully carried out, it must also be done by someone who isn't involved in the lawsuit or any other legal action related to it.

If your registered agent receives service of process for you, they will notify you within a certain number of days before forwarding service papers to you.

Accepting Official Correspondence

Discussion with an agent showing a report

Reliable registered agent service is also responsible for keeping state and federal governments informed about your LLC's administrative details.

An important part of this responsibility is to keep the state government updated with information regarding annual reports, changes in management or members, notices of dismissal or merger, and any other relevant paperwork that needs to be filed by law.

They are also responsible for notifying you when state agencies demand information from you.

For example, the state sales tax division may require a business to file returns or provide payment for any state taxes owed by them.

The federal government also has its own set of rules and requirements that LLCs must abide by to remain compliant with the law; these include filing annual reports for a start.

Managing Compliance Documents

A man organizing paperwork for managing compliance documents

Registered agents are also in charge of managing compliance documents for their clients.

Compliance document is a general term used to describe information and records that your business must keep on file with the Secretary of State or other state agency.

These may include articles or organizations, organization charts, minutes from members or managers' meetings, LLC operating agreements, tax returns, and so on.

You must keep your business records in chronological order and according to the state laws, so regular compliance alerts must be sent out reminding you about upcoming deadlines for these tasks.

Related Article: How to Change Registered Agent for an LLC

What Is the Benefit of Having a Registered Agent?

An agent working and writing on a folder full of important documents

Business owners usually hire a registered agent service because of their ability to deliver essential LLC legal documents in a timely manner, provide business advice, and keep a public record on file.

An LLC Registered Agent will provide timely reminders about upcoming compliance deadlines required by law to remain in good standing with the state.

They can also help you through any changes or updates needed for your business' Articles of Organization paperwork and make sure that you are in compliance with all filing requirements, such as annual reports.

In addition to timely reminders, an LLC Registered Agent can also provide business advice when it comes to legal matters.

For example, a registered agent service could recommend hiring an accountant or lawyer for the best results; they may even be able to connect your business with a dependable accountant or lawyer in your area.

Finally, a registered agent service keeps an up-to-date record of business documents on file with the Secretary of State.

Paul Martinez, founder of EcomSidekick, shares that a trustworthy service notifies you when various state agencies demand information from you. Compliance is then made much easier.

It notifies you when various state agencies demand information from you.

That way, business owners can stay informed about important deadlines without having to spend hours looking through their filing cabinets for the right document.

Find out what are the penalties if you don't have a registered agent.

How to Choose the Best-Registered Agent Service?

A registered agent in an interview

Any business owner thinking about hiring a registered agent service should do a decent amount of research and pick the best agent for their own business needs.

You should first consider what you need from a registered agent service and how often your business will need them; if you're only going to hire them once, or just when company business is being conducted, then the cost of hiring an individual might not outweigh the benefits.

On the other hand, business owners who hire a registered agent service on an ongoing basis can save money in the long run by hiring someone to do all of their business' paperwork.

You should also consider what kind of reputation the business has regarding customer satisfaction; many legitimate businesses actually have online reviews or testimonials from past customers, which can give you insight into the business' customer service.

You will also need a service that will be available for you, so consider a registered agent service that is available during regular business hours.

The availability during normal business hours is important because the agent will handle any emergency filing when you're not accessible.

Another important factor to consider is how much experience or knowledge a business has when starting and managing LLCs; for example, an experienced registered agent knows what kinds of documentation business owners need to remain compliant with state law.

An inexperienced business may not be able to provide all of your company's business needs.

Finally, business owners should also search for bonded registered agent services and have liability insurance to protect their business from unforeseen circumstances or negligence on the part of the business's employees.

How Much Is Registered Agent Service?

Shaking hands while holding money

Registered agent cost will depend on several factors, but most notably, on the state where you choose to form an LLC and the business structure your LLC has.

The fees for hiring a registered agent might be as low as $99 per year, but they may also be higher ($300).

Depending on the firm and the services supplied, additional charges can be applied, and these mainly pertain to business formation, filing, and other services.

Keep in mind that changing a registered agent could also come at an additional fee because of the paperwork you'll have to file with the state.

Who Qualifies as a Registered Agent?

A bearded man in suit reading files

In order for someone to qualify as a registered agent, they must be over 18 years old, have a business license in the state where they reside, have a physical address in that particular state (also called a registered office).

It is preferred that their business has liability insurance.

A business owner can be their own registered agent or even appoint an LLC to be the registered agent.

However, this option is best for many business owners. If you're new to the LLC structure, it's best to hire a third-party registered agent.

See our guide for full information on how to become a registered agent.

What Is a Non-commercial and Commercial Registered Agent?

Two different agent planning on a piece of paper

Commercial registered agent is registered with the state to represent clients in a business capacity.

These registered agent services are often hired by businesses that receive legal documents and demands from courts, law enforcement, or other government agencies.

A registered commercial agent is a person or entity that has registered with the state by submitting a commercial registered agent listing statement to the Secretary of State in accordance with the Model Registered Agent Act (MoRAA) or another comparable state law.

On the other hand, a non-commercial registered agent is an individual or an agent service that hasn't filed the listing statement with the state.

Related articles:


Should I Be My Own Registered Agent for an LLC?

You don't necessarily need a registered agent if you have the time and resources to do this part of business operations on your own.

You may name yourself or your business as a registered agent in many states.

The requirement of a registered agent was designed as part of the legal process.

A lawsuit against your company cannot get far in court without proper notification from your company.

The registered agent must have a physical address within that state and be available to clients during business hours so that someone suing you may easily locate you.

Being your own registered agent also impedes your privacy because you'll probably have to make your street address your LLC's legal address so that legal entities can contact you.

Is It Worth Paying for Registered Agent Services?

It is definitely worth paying for a registered agent if you can't find enough time or energy to handle legal business matters on your own.

You may establish an LLC in any of the 50 states by hiring a national registered agent service.

This is a great benefit for new LLCs, especially if you plan to expand your business to another state.

Can an LLC Have More Than One Registered Agent?

No, you can't have more than one registered agent. However, If your business operates with multiple offices across two or more states, you'll need a registered agent in each one.

Can a Family Member Be a Registered Agent?

Yes, a family member can be a registered agent, provided that this individual satisfies other criteria for performing this role.

However, hiring a professional registered agent service is always advised to handle this part of the business.

Is a Registered Agent a Member of an LLC?

A member of an LLC can be appointed as its registered agent. Suppose a professional registered service or an individual gets appointed as the registered service or agent of the LLC.

In that case, that doesn't mean that person or service will be granted a part in the LLC's ownership.

What Is a Free Registered Agent?

There is no such thing as free registered agents unless you are the one who is performing this role.

What Happens if I Don’t Have an LLC Registered Agent?

The first issue you'll face if your LLC fails to pick a registered agent is that you won't be able to start it.

The form you must submit requires a designated registered agent, and the state will not accept it without one.

You could suffer financial penalties if you name a registered agent, but that person no longer fulfills the function, such as an employee who no longer works for you or a registered agent company that has closed shop or is no longer able to represent you.


The importance of a professional registered agent service cannot be overstated for any business, but especially for LLCs.

If you are looking to grow your company and reach new heights, consider hiring a professional registered agent service like Northwest Registered Agent.

Hiring NorthWest Registered Agent will leave you with plenty of time to focus on what really matters - growing your business and making it profitable.

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