Registered agents are individuals or companies that serve as representatives of corporations for routine matters such as receiving legal documents. While the general duties of registered agents are the same nationwide, rules may vary from state to state. The duties of a registered agent are determined by state law and managed by the Secretary of State’s office.
Generally speaking a company’s registered agent must be a legal resident in the state where the business filed for incorporation. A registered agent can also be a business. Hundreds of businesses exist solely to act as registered agents for corporations. Their employees may include attorneys, paralegals and accountants. Some state’s such as Nevada charges individuals fees to become registered agents. Delaware, where the majority of publicly-traded companies in the nation are incorporated, maintains a database of registered agents.
The registered agent is responsible for accepting legal and tax documents from the state government on behalf of the company. These documents include franchise tax notifications, deadline notices for annual report filings and service of process documents for lawsuits. Having a registered agent is helpful as it prevents having lawsuit documents sent directly to the business or to the homes of the business owners. It is the responsibility of a company’s registered agent to deliver these documents to the business in a timely manner.
When a person or group of individuals wants to form a corporation, they must file articles of incorporation with the state government where the business will be based and designate a registered agent. In most states, the registered agent must be listed in the filing. The registered agent must have a valid physical street address. In most states, a post office box is not accepted as an address for registered agents.
If a registered agent changes her address, she must notify the Secretary of State and submit a change of address form. Businesses must also notify the state when their registered agent’s address changes or when they start using another registered agent. Some states charge corporations a fee to modify registered agent information. If a registered agent resigns from representing a business, he must notify the state.