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What Is a Registered Agent?

If you've spent any time researching or looking into how to form an LLC, there's a good chance you've come across the term Registered Agent.

The term you  have heard could also be resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process depending on which state you live in.

Our goal with this guide is to help you with everything you need to know about registered agents so that you can make the best decision for your business.  

We'll touch on everything from the basics of what is a Registered Agent to giving guidance on whether you should be your own registered agent or whether you should hire a professional service.

Everything you need to know about registered agents can be found in our resource below.  Read on to learn more about what an LLC Registered Agent is, what they do, and why you need one.

Our List of Top Professional Registered Agent Services


Do you want to deal with being your own registered agent?  If not, here are a few quick links to our choices for the best LLC Registered Agent services on the market today.

Starts at $125 (free mail forwarding, locally scanned documents, and privacy)

Starts at $99 (or first year FREE with LLC formation service)

Starts at $149 (offers many more legal services)

State Specific LLC Registered Agent Information

Each state requires for you to appoint a Registered Agent when you form an LLC or create a different legal entity like a Corporation or Limited Partnership.  This is one of the first things you'll need to decide on as each state requires that you designate your registered agent on your formation document.

Generally speaking, the purpose and function of a registered agent is the same across all of the states.  However, there might be a few state specific requirements that are unique to the state you are filing in.  Click on the map below to access our guide to registered agents in your state of formation.

LLC Registered Agents - What Are They?

No matter which state you are in, the function of a registered agent is essentially the same.  A registered agent is a designated person or business who is essentially your point of contact with the state.  From the state's point of view, requiring each business to designate a registered agent allows the state to legally and efficiently serve process (give notice of a lawsuit) and distribute tax forms and other legal documents to each business registered with the state.


From the perspective of the LLC, a registered agent helps the business remain compliant with the legal requirements of the state.  A good registered agent will forward any legal notices and correspondence from the state in a timely manner.  Further, they can send reminders each year when it is time to file tax documents or annual reports with the state.


Depending on the state you are in, you might hear registered agent be referred to by one of the following names.  All of the below names refer to the same thing.


  • Statutory Agent
  • Agent for Service of Process
  • Resident Agent

Furthermore, a registered agent is there to help your LLC file appropriate paperwork with the state so that your business remains in compliance.  For example, most states require that each business file an annual report, which is a report that details a company's activities throughout the prior year.  A good registered agent will send yearly reminders to get your annual report filed.

Being Your Own Registered Agent vs. Using a Service

Can You Be Your Own Registered Agent?

The short answer is yes, you can be your own registered agent.  This is one of the decisions you should consider when forming your LLC - whether you want to be your own registered agent or if you want to use a service to be your agent for you.

You can designate yourself, a business partner, or somebody else you trust to be your LLC’s registered agent for convenience, as long as you or the person:

  • Has a physical address in the state of formation, and
  • Is 18 years of age or older, and
  • Is physically available during normal business hours

Some folks prefer to be their own registered agent to save a quick buck instead of hiring a third party service to do it instead.  Other than short term cost savings, however, there aren't many notable benefits to being your own registered agent.

Should You Use a Registered Agent Service?

Alternatively, you can hire a service to be your LLC’s registered agent.  It comes at an extra cost, but there are affordable and reputable services out there who will do it for you and ensure that you are remaining compliant.

Generally speaking, we are firm believers that a business owner should outsource administrative tasks wherever possible, and the registered agent designation is a perfect example of a task that can easily be outsourced.  

As a business owner, your time and mental energy is much better spent on things that will help grow your business vs keeping up with paperwork yourself.  We've found that in the long run, the fees associated with hiring a third party registered agent are marginal compared to the time and energy savings that they provide.

Reasons for Using a Registered Agent Service

When it comes to the decision of whether to be your own registered agent or to hire a service, it's important to have a firm understanding of what it is exactly that a registered agent service will do for you.  Here are the top advantages that come with hiring a reputable third party to be your LLC registered agent. 

Your Time Is Valuable

Every quality business owner knows how valuable their time is.  Time is an entrepreneur's most valuable resource, and odds are its much better spent focusing on your business strategy and operations instead of focusing on administrative tasks.  With a third party registered agent, you're relieved of some tasks that would otherwise be constantly hovering.

Nowadays, the fees that registered agents charge are pretty marginal compared to other expenses you are likely to incur over the course of running your business.  So in the long run, considering the time you are going to save yourself, it's quite possible that using a third party registered agent will actually be lest costly over time compared to being your own registered agent.

Your Privacy Is Too

A registered agent's address becomes part of the public record of the state in which you form your LLC.  There are plenty of reasons why a business might not want to advertise their address to the world, most of all might be to avoid tons of spam mail sent to your mailbox.  If you run your business out of your home, there are even more reasons why you might not want to paste your personal address on the public record.

Utilizing a third party registered agent service means that their address will become part of the public record, not yours.  This allows for you to maintain privacy and avoid an overload of junk mail at your personal address.

The Good Ones Provide Excellent Service

Like many services out there, there are good ones and bad ones when it comes to registered agent companies.  We've done our best to compile a list of the best registered agent companies out there that all provide excellent service.  If you're comparing different companies on your own, here are a few indicators that the agent you chose is a good one:

First and foremost, your registered agent should have a reputation for strong customer service.  Due to the nature of what a registered agent is, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a company that isn't helpful or responsive to your inquiries.  If you're unsure about the customer service department of a potential agent that isn't on our list of recommendations, make sure to spend a little time digging into it on the internet.

Second, the service you choose to hire should have a presence in all 50 U.S. States.  This is especially important if you plan to expand your business across state borders, where a registered agent is typically required for an LLC to register as a foreign entity with a state.  Even if you don't plan to expand, your registered agent being able to provide service to all 50 states is typically indicative that they are running a solid, competent operation and are well versed in each state's compliance requirements.

Next, your registered agent should offer annual report reminders and document management services as part of their package.  Many of the best registered agent services will keep digital copies of your formation documents and other important company documents on their server, where you can access them at any time when they are needed.

Last but not least, the services should be offered at a reasonable price.  Depending on the state and the details surrounding your business, most registered agent services charge somewhere in the ballpark of $100 - $250 annually for LLC's.

You Get More Control

One of the stipulations of being your own registered agent in most states is that you are required to remain open during normal business hours.  That means if you designate yourself, there is a chance you will be required to remain open on weekdays between 9 AM and 5 PM. Using a third party solves this problem because they will always be open and available during normal business hours, leaving you freedom to run your business the way you choose to.

Furthermore, you get a little more control over your business strategy by utilizing a service.  There could be a wide variety of reasons why you'd need to form an LLC in another state or register a current LLC in another state.  By using a third party service, you give yourself the ability to leverage a system that allows you to remain compliant in all 50 states.

Our Favorite Registered Agent Services

FREE first year of Registered Agent Service

With purchase of LLC formation plan

($49 + state filing fees).  Starts at $99 without LLC formation plan.

FREE mail forwarding, local scans, and more

Registered Agent Services start at $125.  LLC formation plans are also available.

LLC Registered Agent - FAQ

If you came to this resource wondering "what is a registered agent?", odds are you might have more questions by now.  Below we go over some of the most frequently asked questions about registered agents:

What is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is a designated person or business who is essentially your point of contact with the state.  


A registered agent allows the state to legally and efficiently serve process (give notice of a lawsuit) and distribute tax forms and other legal documents to each business registered with the state.  Furthermore, a registered agent helps for an LLC to remain in compliance with state requirements.

What Does a Registered Agent Do?

The essential function of a registered agent is to be the point of contact with your LLC's state of formation.  This means the registered agent is available to receive service of process and other legal notices from the state.

Quality third party registered agent services, however, do more than simply receive documents on your behalf.  The best registered agent services will forward important state notices to you, help you remain compliant by sending filing reminders, and store important company documents for you on their servers.

Why Do I Need an LLC Registered Agent?

Every state requires for your LLC to designate a registered agent at the time of formation.  From the state's point of view, a registered agent allows them to legally and efficiently serve process (give notice of a lawsuit) and distribute tax forms and other legal documents to each business registered with the state.

How Do I Designate an LLC Registered Agent?

In most states, an LLC is formed by filing a document known as Articles of Formation.  This form might be called a Certificate of Formation or Articles of Organization depending on which state you live in.

You are required to designate your LLC registered agent on your Articles of Formation.  Since registered agents are required by each state, they require for you to designate one up front on your formation document.

What Does Service of Process Mean?

Service of process is the procedure by which a party gives legally satisfactory notice to another party of a legal action.  If your LLC is ever sued or party to a legal action, the party bringing suit is required to serve process to your LLC.

What Are the Requirements To Be a Registered Agent?

Generally speaking, the requirements to be a registered agent are quite similar across all 50 states.  You can designate yourself, a business partner, or somebody else you trust to be your LLC’s registered agent for convenience, as long as you or the person:

  • Has a physical address in the state of formation, and
  • Is 18 years of age or older, and
  • Is physically available during normal business hours

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

Yes, you may be your own registered agent as long as you satisfy the requirements listed out in the section above.

What Are Other Names for a Registered Agent?

Most states use the term registered agent.  However, there are some states that use a different name for the registered agent designation. If you come across any of these terms, they are all referring to the same thing:

  • Registered Agent
  • Resident Agent
  • Statutory Agent
  • Agent for Service of Process

How Much Does a Registered Agent Service Cost?

There is no fee associated with being your own registered agent.

The cost of a third party registered agent can vary depending on a variety of factors such as which state you are in and the level of service you wish to receive.  But generally speaking, most registered agent services cost between $100 and $250 per year.

I Don't Like My Registered Agent.  Can I Change?

Yes, you can change your registered agent.  In most states switching a registered agent is as simple as filing a standard form with the state.

Depending on the state(s) your LLC is registered in, there might be a fee associated with changing your registered agent.  Some states charge a fee for this and some do not.

What Is a Registered Agent - Next Steps

Now that you know a little bit more about what registered agents are and how they serve your business, it's time to choose one!  There's nothing wrong with being your own registered agent if you think can stay on top of it and don't mind your address becoming part of the public record.

If you're set on using a registered agent service but are still unsure of which one is the best fit for your LLC, you can take a look at our more in depth reviews of the best registered agent services right here.

Alternatively, you can pick a state on the map below to learn more about registered agent requirements in the state that you plan to form or register your LLC.