- What are the requirements to become a registered agent?
- Can you become your own registered agent?
- Should you hire a professional?
Q: How do you become a registered agent in the US?
A: To become a registered agent in the US, you must be above the age of 18, have an address in the state of the business you’ll be serving, and be available during business operating hours. This is true whether you’re serving someone else’s business or your own. Read on to discover what you need to do to become your own registered agent.
With online-only businesses and remote work thriving, more and more people are launching their own businesses.
As a result of this boom, demand for registered agent services has been steadily increasing.
If you’re wondering how to become a registered agent, this article is for you.
We cover the requirements to become a registered agent and how you can serve as the registered agent for your own business.
- What are the requirements for registered agents?
- Can you become a registered agent for your own business?
- What goes into being your own registered agent?
- Should you consider hiring a registered agent?
What Are the Requirements for a Registered Agent?
Generally, all registered agents are subject to the same requirements.
Registered agents must be above the age of 18. The government makes it clear that you can’t have a minor serving as a registered agent, even if they want to serve their own company.
For starters, minors are far less likely to have their own addresses at which to receive government documents.
Perhaps more importantly though, most minors are probably not ready to handle important legal documents on a regular basis.
In addition to being over the age of 18, a registered agent needs to have an address in the state the business is registered in.
Because the state government needs to have easy access to your business’s registered agent, they need to be close by. This ensures the state is able to quickly deliver important notices and documents.
Finally, registered agents need to be available at the address they provide during the business’s operating hours.
The reason for this stipulation is that the state sometimes delivers documents or notices in person.
If someone shows up to serve the business a subpoena, there needs to be someone there to receive it.
Your registered agent needs to be there so the state knows they have a clear channel of communication for your LLC’s legal correspondence.
Are All State Registered Agent Requirements the Same?
In almost all cases, the requirements for a registered agent will be the same across states.
If you’ve learned how to become a registered agent in Colorado, you probably also know how to become one in Florida or in Wyoming.
That said, you will need to have an address in any state you intend to serve as a registered agent in.
For example, just because you’re able to serve as a registered agent in Texas doesn’t mean you can automatically serve as a registered agent in Wyoming.
Since each state communicates with the registered agents directly, you have to have an address within the state.
This can be quite tricky since registered agents also need to be available to receive documents during business hours.
If you are operating as a registered agent in Colorado, you need to have a way of accepting incoming documents during the day in Colorado.
If you also want to serve as a registered agent in Wyoming, you’re going to have to have a way to receive those documents there as well.
This makes it tricky for registered agents to serve in multiple states at once. There are solutions, but for business owners just looking to serve their own businesses, they’re likely too complex or expensive to be worth it.
It is important to note that while the registered agent requirements are mostly the same across states, each state has its own legislature and process.
You should always check your state’s specific requirements when becoming a registered agent for yourself or for anyone else.
Can You Become a Registered Agent from Outside the State?
In most cases you can serve as a registered agent from outside the state of the business you’re serving.
That said, it requires the proper infrastructure to pull off successfully.
The biggest hurdle to serving as a registered agent in a different state is the address. You need to have an address within the state the business is registered in.
For most registered agents, this is a difficult conundrum. They likely don’t have the money to rent or purchase a property that they aren’t going to use.
Even if they do have a property available, they’ll also need someone to be there to receive any documents the government decides to deliver in person during operating hours.
In most states, this doesn’t have to be the agent themselves. But that still leaves you with a problem.
The only conventional solution is to hire someone else to stay at the address you provide during operating hours. They will have to receive any documents and forward them to you promptly.
So, can you become a registered agent from outside the state? Yes.
Should you? Probably not.
What Skills Do You Need to be a Successful Registered Agent?
Along with the legal requirements for becoming a registered agent, you’ll also need a number of skills if you want to be successful.
For starters, a good registered agent needs to have strong time management skills.
Each document that you receive is crucial. Missing a deadline can cost your business or your client’s business serious amounts of money.
If you fail to promptly respond or forward documents, you may jeopardize the LLC’s legal standing. This can undo all the protection the business owner gets by registering an LLC, potentially hurting their personal finances.
A good registered agent also needs to be exceptionally well-organized.
Dealing with a high volume of mail can be overwhelming, but letting a document fall through the cracks can be catastrophic.
If you plan to become a registered agent, you must create and stick to an effective, accurate system to ensure you aren’t missing any government mail.
This becomes especially difficult when you’re serving as the registered agent for your own business.
How Do You Become the Registered Agent for Your Own Company?
Every LLC has to have a registered agent in order to become legal.
That said, anyone who meets the qualifications laid out above can serve as your LLC’s registered agent.
Many business owners decide to take on this responsibility themselves. This can be done successfully, but it requires the right mindset and a bit of prior knowledge.
If you want to become the registered agent for your own business, the first thing you’ll need is an address within the state your business is registered in.
In most cases, this is easy to provide, as you’ll already need an address in the state for your business.
Next, you’ll need to make sure you or someone trustworthy and dependable will be at that address during all open hours for your business.
This person needs to be capable of accepting any mail or in-person summons the government sends to your business.
Ideally, this would be you. It’s incredibly easy to lose a piece of mail in the midst of a busy workday. If you have an employee accepting your mail, you run the risk of a harmless accident costing you dearly.
Even if you’re there yourself though, you’ll still need to develop a strong system to ensure you don’t miss any mail yourself.
At the very least, you need to go through your mail upon delivery and place any envelopes that look like they are from the government in a dedicated file or folder.
From there, you need to ensure that you set aside time every day to open, read, and respond to those documents.
Failing to set up this kind of system can lead to you accidentally ignoring time-sensitive information.
When this happens, you risk fines and your entire business’s legal protection.
What Information Do You Need to Provide?
When you decide to become the registered agent for your LLC, you must provide personal information to the state government.
This information includes your name, address, and a form of government-issued ID.
The state uses this information to verify your identity. From there, they keep this information on file so they know how to contact you whenever they need to communicate with your business.
It’s important to note that your information becomes part of the public domain when you serve as a registered agent.
Since registered agents are legally responsible for handling incoming legal correspondences, people need to know where to deliver them should they need to communicate with the business.
As such, the government releases registered agent information to the public.
Why Your Address Matters
If you plan on becoming the registered agent for your business, the address you use is crucial.
Listing your home address is a common mistake many registered agents make.
When you provide your personal residential address to the government, that information becomes publicly available.
This means anyone who is upset with the business can easily find where you live. The consequences range from unnerving, to genuine invasions of your privacy and peace.
Additionally, using your home address means that any government documents served to you in person can become a spectacle for your neighbors.
Most people don’t want to be handed a lawsuit on their front porch, in front of the entire neighborhood.
That’s why it’s important to use a different address when serving as a registered agent.
In most instances, a Virtual Office is the best solution.
Virtual Offices provide registered agents with a convenient, affordable address they can use for their registered agent services.
They provide a place to work and easy mail pickup and forwarding, helping registered agents protect their home addresses while providing their services.
What Goes into Being Your Own Registered Agent?
If you decide to serve as your own registered agent, you’ll need to make space in your workday.
Registered agents need to be available to accept incoming mail, sort through it, and read and respond to any government correspondence.
This needs to be a daily occurrence. As mentioned, failing to respond promptly can lead to serious legal trouble for your business.
Many business owners take on their own registered agent responsibilities without thinking about the consequences.
Missed deadlines can be highly detrimental though.
What Happens if You Miss Deadlines?
Successful business owners know they need to stay on top of their work.
You wouldn’t skip your daily marketing meetings or product design work with looming deadlines.
The same attitude needs to be applied to your registered agent duties. Deadlines are everywhere.
Missing a deadline can easily result in hefty fines. The government demands compliance from all businesses.
While many business owners don’t like the way the government regulates business, they ultimately have the final say.
This means failing to get them the information they need on time is punishable by fines.
These fines can seriously impact your business’s growth, eating into your profits and keeping you from reaching new markets before your competition.
In some cases, missing a deadline might even compromise your LLC’s legal standing. If this happens your personal assets can be seized if your business fails.
The bottom line: you don’t want to miss a deadline.
The Opportunity Cost of Being Your Own Registered Agent
Even if you are fully aware of the importance of handling your registered agent duties promptly, you may not have considered what those duties mean for your business.
As a business owner, you steer the ship. Your work guides your business in all aspects, allowing you to grow your reach and increase your profits.
But with that comes a lot of responsibility. Your work is crucial for your business to keep functioning and reach new horizons.
When you take on the responsibilities of being your own registered agent, you sacrifice some of your highly-valuable time.
Every minute you spend pouring over mail and reading important documents is time you aren’t building your business.
In economics, this is known as “opportunity cost”. Doing something is always a decision to sacrifice the other things you could be doing instead.
Many business owners forget to factor in this opportunity cost. They think only in terms of the immediate money they save by serving as their own registered agents instead of hiring someone else.
But that time may have been put to better use. That time might have resulted in more income than you’d save handling the registered agent duties yourself.
And that’s not to mention the secondary reductions in your performance that can occur when you serve as your own registered agent.
Being Your Own Registered Agent is Stressful
Everyone knows stress is bad for the mind.
Nonetheless, many business owners ignore this fact and pile endless responsibilities onto themselves.
Running a business is already a stressful endeavor. When you add worrying about time-sensitive legal correspondences, it can become completely overwhelming.
This can quickly lead to excessive stress and burnout.
Not only is this subjectively unpleasant, but it can also impact your work.
When you’re burnt out, you don’t bring the same level of passion, drive, and creativity to your work. This keeps your business stagnant, holding you back from achieving new goals.
The tradeoffs are almost never worth it.
Consider Hiring a Professional
Hiring a professional registered agent is almost always a better idea than trying to serve as your own.
A professional registered agent ensures you always meet your important deadlines while freeing you from having to worry about it yourself.
You save time and energy that you can use to build your business.
A professional registered agent also frees you from having to worry about your information being made public.
There are endless registered agents on the market, but taking the time to vet each individual can be painstakingly tedious.
Many business owners choose to hire from an established, trusted provider instead.
Both of these businesses provide knowledgeable, reliable registered agents to businesses across the country.
*Alliance Virtual Offices is a partner of Anderson and Inc Authority and may receive payment if you purchase through the links in this article.
Wrapping Up: How to Become a Registered Agent
Becoming a registered agent is a fairly simple process.
All you need is to be over the age of 18, have an address in the state you intend to operate in, and be available to receive documents during business hours.
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That said, serving as a registered agent requires attentive care and dedication to protect your business from fines and legal trouble.
If you’re considering serving as your own registered agent, you might be better off hiring a professional instead.