A registered agent is the point-of-contact between your business and the government. Registered agents are authorized to receive official mail and service of process notifications on behalf of a business.
For certain legal entities (i.e. LLC, partnerships, corporations), having a registered agent is required by law.
Although in some instances you can serve as your own registered agent (or have a friend or family member act as one), this is typically advised against.
Related: What Is a Registered Agent?
Legal entities that require a registered agent need to appoint one for the state in which the entity was incorporated, as well as for each state in which the business conducts business.
5 Minimum Legal Requirements of Registered Agents
Though the legal requirements to become a registered agent vary by state, there are several minimum qualifications that apply in all states.
1. The registered agent must be a resident of where a legal entity is incorporated.
When registering a business with the state, the registered agent needs to provide a local, physical address.
Bear in mind that P.O. Box addresses are not typically accepted as registered agent address.
2. The registered agent must have an in-state physical address in all states in which a business operates.
Given that companies need to have a designated registered agent in all states in which the business operates, the registered agent must have an in-state physical address in each of these states.
This is one of the reasons why businesses opt to work with a professional registered agent service (these types of service providers have local addresses in most states, in addition to the advantage of only having to work with one registered agent as opposed to several).
3. The registered agent should be at least 18 years old.
If you’re working with an individual registered agent instead of a company that provides those services, then that person should be at least 18 years old.
Though not all states mention any age restrictions like California, Kentucky, and New York, other states, like Colorado and Connecticut, do.
In any case, it might be wise for you to hire a registered agent that has some experience with the role and is familiar with the responsibilities it entitles.
4. The registered agent needs to be physically available during standard business hours.
A registered agent needs to be physically present at the address provided to the state during all standard business hours throughout the year.
This means that Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., your registered agent needs to be available to receive any official mail or service of processes.
5. The registered agent must be able to receive official mail and service of process notification.
The main responsibility of a registered agent is to serve as the point-of-contact between a legal entity and the government.
Therefore, this person must be able to personally receive all official mail and service of process notifications on behalf of a business.
Additional Requirements for Registered Agents
Additional requirements for registered agents vary by state.
For example, in New York a registered agent must be authorized to do business in the state, while in Kentucky your designated registered agent must sign your entity’s formation documents or provide a statement in writing accepting the appointment in order to be considered legitimate.
In Connecticut, similar to Kentucky, a registered agent must formally accept the role; the registered agent can do this by signing formation documents or by accepting the role via an email exchange.
Some states allow corporations and limited liability partnerships to act as their own registered agents, however in order to act as registered agents these entities need to be authorized to do business in said state and have a local address.
To find out the specific legal requirements of registered agents in a specific state, visit their given Secretary of State website.
Additional Information about Registered Agents
Most registered agent service providers offer additional services to that of receiving and handling official mail and service of process notifications.
Some of these additional services include ensuring compliance with state-required filings, forwarding government mail, and filing taxes on behalf of your business, store important files (tax papers, compliance documents, annual reports, and other corporate documents etc.).
Registered agent services do not represent a significant cost for businesses and they can offer a wide array of benefits.
Registered agents provide individuals with privacy, they help businesses keep their good standing, and they make it easier for companies to grow their business across state lines.
The legal requirements to become a registered agent vary by state, however there are some minimum qualifications that all states agree on.
The most basic requirement is for a registered agent to have a local, physical address in the state where a company is formed. P.O. Box addresses do not fulfill this requirement.
Furthermore, registered agents must be available at their registered address during regular business hours — Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.– throughout the year.
Additional requirements from each state can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.