It makes sense to spend a few moments discussing just what a registered agent even is, who can be a registered agent, and who should be your registered agent. This “registered agent” question might be one of the bigger misunderstandings about the incorporation process. It’s a real opportunity to find yourself overpaying for a service you don’t need in the first place. But let me explain.
Note: Sometimes, in some states, a registered agent is called a “statutory agent”.
What does a registered agent do?
A registered agent is just a real, live human being that’s specifically designated as the “go-to” person for a corporation or limited liability company for service of process. In other words, the registered agent is the contact name for something like a subpoena.
I should also note that the registered person is also the contact the state sends its paperwork to for, as an example, the annual registration or renewal of a corporation’s or limited liability company’s charter.
Perhaps the main thing to understand, though, is that as a practical matter, a registered agent doesn’t really do anything, or at least much of anything. Rather, one might more accurately say that a registered agent simply stands ready to do something—which is respond to a service of process (basically by passing the subpoena or whatever along to you.)
Who can be a registered agent?
Anyone physically located in the state where you’re registering the corporation or limited liability company can stand in as the registered agent. And “anyone,” by the way, also includes a business (like another corporation or limited liability company) located in the state.
For example, if you’re located in Washington, you can be your own registered agent for Washington state. You can have your neighbor be your registered agent. You can have your attorney or accountant or a paralegal company be your registered agent. You can, in short, have just about anybody (including businesses) in the state of Washington act as your registered agent.
By the way, if you’re located in Washington but you set up a corporation in Nevada, you will need a registered agent in Nevada—a real live person in Nevada. Again, the registered agent can be anybody located in Nevada.
Who should be your registered agent?
I think you should be your own registered agent—or at least you should be the registered agent for your corporation or limited liability company in your home state.
If you don’t want to be your own registered agent or you need a registered agent in another state and don’t have a friend, employee or professional advisor who can act for you there, you can search the web for a local registered agent. You’ll have no shortage of options. It turns out that sitting around waiting is a very easy business—and extremely profitable if you’re charging people $100 or more a year.