Do You Need a Registered Agent for Your Business?

You might want to hire someone instead of doing it yourself.

Older woman and younger woman looking at a computer monitor.

Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

When you register your business with a state, one of the required bits of information is the name and address of your business's registered agent. You can put down your name and address as a registered agent, but it might be better for you to hire someone if you can't consistently be available during normal working hours.

Key Takeaways

  • Businesses that register as a legal entity are required to have a registered agent
  • You can be the registered agent for your own business
  • Registered agents receive federal and state legal documents on behalf of a business
  • Registered agents are required to be available during normal working hours

What Does a Registered Agent Do?

All 50 states require businesses that register with a state as legal entities (LLCs, partnerships, corporations) to have a registered agent, sometimes called a statutory agent or agent of process.

Everyone (including businesses) have a right to due process, with procedures to make sure that the legal process provides for fair procedures. That includes the right to be notified when legal action is taken against them.

The registered agent is the person who is designated to receive federal and state legal documents and service of process (a summons or subpoena, for example). For example, it's not enough to just mail a summons to a defendant, because there's no way to be sure that the person received it. Someone must acknowledge the document has been received, and that's where the registered agent comes in. The government wants to be sure there is always someone who can sign for these documents.

A registered agent accepts legal paperwork on behalf of your business. The person or service must have a physical address (not a post office box) in the state and be available during normal business hours to receive legal notices.


If your business is registered in more than one state, you will need a registered agent in each state. Some registered agent services may be able to provide you with nationwide coverage.

The registered agent receives the legal notice, signs for it, and emails a copy of the notice to the business client.

The cost of a registered agent service varies, but you might expect to pay between $125 and $200 each year. Some registered agents provide additional services for an additional cost, such as filing documents, notifying businesses of upcoming events like an annual filing or a franchise tax filing date.

Requirements for Registered Agents

Each state imposes its own standards for registered agents. An individual or an LLC can be a registered agent. Although there are some variations depending on the state, requirements and responsibilities of a registered agent can include:

  • Being generally available to accept service of process during normal working hours
  • Being a resident of the state
  • Accepting service of process and other communications and forwarding these to the legal entity (the business paying them)
  • Giving the business they represent an annual report or notice as required by the state
  • Keeping the contact information of each business they represent

What are the Benefits of Having a Registered Agent?

A registered agent can be a benefit to your business in several circumstances: 

  • If you have a PO Box as the mailing address for your business (federal and state notices can't be sent to a PO Box).
  • If you don't want legal documents served in front of employees or customers.
  • So you don't need to worry about missing important documents while you are on vacation or if you travel frequently.
  • If you change your business location (within your state), you don't have to file a registered agent change with your state. You just need to notify your service or agent.
  • If you do business in multiple states, you can use the registered agent service in all those states.
  • You won't be in danger of having fines or penalties imposed if you miss a deadline.
  • You won't be in danger of falling out of good standing with your state.


A registered agent doesn't accept all of your business mail and forward it to you. If a court needs to send your business a legal notice, they use the address of your registered agent that's on file with your state.

How Do I Get a Registered Agent?

If you decide that hiring a registered agent is right for you, you can find many registered agent services online. Before you decide on a service or agent, you should:

  • Check price of the service and any additional fees
  • Find out the physical address of the office is, so you can include that information in the registration with your state.  
  • Talk to the agent or someone from the service, and make sure they are reliable and can handle your business needs.
  • Read business reviews or talk to clients of the agent or service if possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost?

Registered agent services usually cost between $50-$300 per year.

Can You Be Your Own Registered Agent?

You can act as the registered agent for your business. You'll just need to make sure you're available during normal working hours, meet all other requirements, and register with the state.

Want to read more content like this? Sign up for The Balance’s newsletter for daily insights, analysis, and financial tips, all delivered straight to your inbox every morning!

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Legal Information Institute. "Due Process."

  2. Florida Division of Corporations. "Service of Process."

  3. Legal Information Institute. "Service of Process."

  4. SCORE. "Should You Hire a Registered Agent or Be Your Own?"

  5. Wolters Kluwer. "What is Required to Become a Registered Agent?"

  6. Delaware Division of Corporations. "Registered Agent Listing Standards."

Related Articles