What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent is a person or service that can receive legal, tax and official documents for your business. It’s also a reliable way for the government and people who want to contact your business to find you.

An owner or employee of your business can serve as your registered agent, but it’s often easier to hire a professional. They can help you stay in compliance with all the business filing deadlines and requirements in all states.

Legal Requirements

The state of New York requires all business entities to designate a registered agent, and there is typically a designated spot for this on incorporation or business registration forms. A registered agent can be an individual over the age of 18 or a corporation or LLC authorized to do business in New York. They must have a physical street address in the state and be available to receive service of process and official mail during normal business hours.

While you can choose to be your own registered agent, this can be a hassle if you maintain non-standard work hours or travel frequently for business. In many cases, a commercial registered agent services provider will be more cost-effective and convenient. These businesses can also keep your information private, and many of them will scan received documents and forward them to you digitally. This can save you time and money on storage and mailing expenses. In addition, these services can handle registered agent needs in multiple states.

How to Become a Registered Agent

Generally, only people or businesses in good standing with the state can serve as a registered agent. In New York, it’s a requirement for companies that want to do business in the state. The New York Secretary of State maintains a public database that can be searched for anyone who is a registered agent in the state.

A commercial registered agent service can take care of legal and official mail on a company’s behalf, forward it to the business, and notify them of important deadlines or actions that need to be taken. Many services also scan documents and make them available digitally.

A person can be a registered agent but they should live in the state where the business is registered to be available during regular business hours. A business can be its own registered agent but it’s not recommended because it presents privacy issues in the event of a lawsuit. In addition, the registered agent’s address becomes a matter of public record, which could be embarrassing if a vindictive customer or employee shows up at your house.

Responsibilities of a Registered Agent

A registered agent is responsible for receiving legal documents and significant mail on behalf of a company, as well as forwarding them to the actual owner of the business. This includes service of process notices of lawsuits and important state notifications like garnishment notices for employees, tax notifications, and annual report due date reminders.

Professional registered agents can also save businesses time and money by ensuring that important legal paperwork is properly received and handled. This alleviates the need for a dedicated in-house employee to add this responsibility on top of their existing job duties.

Additionally, since a business’s address becomes public record, hiring a professional registered agent can keep unwanted junk mail out of the office. For resource-scarce businesses, this can be a lifesaver. With over 3,000+ positive customer reviews, Northwest Registered Agent is a great choice for businesses who need trustworthy and reliable services. Their affordable packages include all the essentials, and their team is comprised of US-based former accountants and lawyers with a lot of experience dealing with the types of problems that small businesses face.

Registered Agent Fees

Many registered agent service companies exist for the sole purpose of serving as the registered agents for businesses and charge an annual fee. This is a small price to pay for the assurance that important documentation will be received and relayed to your business in a timely fashion. Most service providers also scan any legal paperwork they receive and make it immediately available online for their clients to view.

It can be burdensome to have to sift through junk mail to find urgent documents related to your business, especially if you work nontraditional hours or aren’t always in the office or home for long periods of time. For this reason, many people choose to use a commercial registered agent service that offers mail forwarding and other helpful services.

While most registered agent service providers offer an annual fee, some offer a lower introductory rate and bundle their service with other registration or business formation services. We reached out to several registered agent service providers and found that many of them have a 90-day cancellation policy, which is an important factor for business owners.

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