If you’re starting a business and are thinking about registering your name with your state, then you’ll need to have a registered agent.
If you’re forming a legal entity like an LLC, partnership, or corporation, then having a registered agent is required by law.
A registered agent is a person who is designated to receive service of process mail or official mail on behalf of a business, including taxes, compliance-related notifications, and legal paperwork.
In other words…
A registered agent acts as the point-of-contact between your business entity and your state.
Related: What is a Registered Agent?
If you’re just getting started with your business endeavors, then you’re likely wondering how much a registered agent will cost you and why.
Registered agent costs vary, but generally speaking they don’t represent a significant cost to businesses.
What can a Registered Agent do for You?
Before breaking down the cost of having a registered agent, you need to first understand what a registered agent can do for you and your business.
When looking for a registered agent:
- Make sure that the registered agent is located in the same state as your business, or that it has a registered address in that state.
- If your business works across state lines, you will need to have a registered agent in all states, even if your company doesn’t have a physical presence to ensure that you receive important mail and paperwork.
- They need to be open during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
So what exactly do registered agents do?
- They can receive, accept, and file tax documents on behalf of your business.
- They can help you develop and implement a successful tax strategy for your business.
- They can receive, accept, and file regulatory compliance documents from the federal, state, county, or city government.
- They can respond to service of process notifications.
If you’re a party in a lawsuit or are summoned to court for any reason, the registered agent can receive said processes and notify you in a timely manner in order for your business to respond to the proceeding before the court, body, or tribunal responsible for the summon.
- They can serve as a businesses’ physical address.
If you’re running an online company or a business that doesn’t require a physical address to operate effectively, then a registered agent can act as your business address.
All businesses are required to have an address where they can receive important mail and notifications. Rather than using your home address, you can use a registered agent to ensure privacy and that no important mail is lost between spam and personal mail.
- Help you stay in business and avoid fees, fines, and citations.
By helping businesses manage tax, legal, and regulatory paperwork, registered agents can help businesses stay in business and avoid fees, fines, and citations.
Some registered agents: Provide supplementary services for an additional charge, like preparation and filing registration documents, sending reminders for when license renewals are due or when annual reports need to be sent, they provide entity formation help, and they can store regulatory, tax, and legal paperwork for your business (tax returns, receipts, financial records, payroll records, etc.)
Breaking down the Cost of Registered Agents
Registered agent fees can cost between $120 to $500 a year for basic registered agent services.
Why You Shouldn’t Act as Your Own Registered Agent
Here are some reasons why you should hire a registered agent rather than serving as your own.
- Time Savings. You won’t have to spend valuable time sorting through your business mail and paperwork and figuring out what action needs to be taken.
- Personal Security. More privacy, especially if you are thinking about using your home address as your business address.
- Better business image. Since you won’t be receiving legal and regulatory paperwork and mail in your office, you won’t have to worry about clients and customers seeing any legal notices or any type of mail that could throw people off.
Imagine a client reaches your office or business right as a service of process notification is being delivered; this type of thing could easily harm your reputation.
- Flexibility. If you run a business that doesn’t necessary operate during regular business hours, then having a registered agent will allow you to open your business only during the times when you’re meeting clients or receiving customers. Moreover, if you’re running a small business and want to go on an extended vacation, having a registered agent means that you won’t have to worry and stress about how you will be receiving important mail and paperwork.
- Peace of mind. Given that a registered agent is responsible for receiving and handling your business’s legal and official paperwork, you can have the peace of mind that you won’t miss any important notices, paperwork, or mail that needs to be addressed in a timely manner.
When you look at the yearly cost of a registered agent and compare it to the amount of money that a business could lose paying any fines, fees, or penalties for failing to address legal notices, not renewing licenses, or not complying in any other way, the registered agent fee is really minimal.
Fines, fees, and penalties for failing to renew business license, complying with regulations, or missing citations or court dates can easily reach the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Put in this perspective, $500 a year seems like a small price for businesses to pay to ensure operational longevity and business compliance.
For some businesses, registered agents are a requirement and not an option. Even if the type of business your are registering doesn’t require that you hire the services of a registered agent, all businesses and business owners can greatly benefit from having one.
Though prices of registered agents vary by location, the cost typically doesn’t exceed $500. Registered agents are designated to receive service of process mail or official mail on behalf of a business, including taxes, compliance-related notifications, and legal paperwork, which can help ensure the good standing and longevity of a business.