Man Receiving Mail
Posted August 08, 2023
| Updated October 30, 2023

What Is an Agent for Service of Process?

An agent for service of process is an individual or business that accepts important legal and government notices on behalf of an LLC or Corporation. More commonly known as a registered agent, designating an agent for service of process is a requirement for LLCs, Corporations, and some other registered business entities. A state will require a registered business entity to have a registered agent if the business is located in (or is foreign-qualified to operate in) the state. If a Corporation or LLC is located in one state and conducts business in others, it must have a registered agent in each of those states.

What Paperwork Does an Agent Receive?

Certain official documents and notices will be delivered to an LLC’s or Corporation’s agent for service of process’s address rather than the business’s location.

Service of process refers to the delivery of legal notices — with process being the documents involved in lawsuits. When a business appoints a registered agent, service of process is directed to the registered agent’s address, not the LLC’s or Corporation’s.

Service of process examples:

  • Summonses that notify a business of a lawsuit against it
  • Complaints that explain the plaintiff’s reason for a lawsuit
  • Answers, the defendant’s formal written response to a complaint
  • Subpoenas requesting parties in a lawsuit to produce certain documents, records, files, and testimony for examination
  • Motions from the defense or prosecution attorneys requesting the court to decide on something related to the case before, during, or sometimes after a trial

Various forms of government correspondence will also go to a business’s registered agent.

Government correspondence examples:

  • Tax notices from local, state, and federal (IRS) tax authorities
  • Federal, state, and local business compliance-related filing notifications
  • Wage garnishment notices (e.g., mandating that a business withhold money from an employee’s pay for child support, alimony, loans, etc.)

Who Can You Choose as Your Agent?

States’ rules for who can serve as an agent for service of process vary, and an individual or business must meet their state’s requirements to act in that capacity. Below are the options a C Corporation or LLC will typically have. Keep in mind that most states will not allow a business entity to designate itself as its own registered agent. Other restrictions might also limit who an LLC or Corporation may appoint as their registered agent.

Agent for service of process selection options:

  • An LLC member or corporate shareholder who lives in the state
  • An employee who resides in the state
  • A friend or family member who meets the state’s age and availability requirements
  • A commercial registered agent in the state where the business is located
  • An attorney, law firm, accountant, accounting firm, or tax preparation firm in the state

States’ qualifications for registered agents vary. Generally, though, the following rules apply:

  • The registered agent must have a physical address in the state (not a P.O. box).
  • An individual must be at least 18 years old to serve as a registered agent.
  • The agent for service of process must be available to accept process and other documents from Monday through Friday during normal business hours (usually 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Selecting a Registered Agent

With many registered agent services providers to choose from, you may be wondering how to find one that will meet your business’s needs.

I caution business owners with the knee-jerk reaction of leaning toward the cheapest options. While you may feel tempted by the low cost associated with appointing a friend, family member, or employee as your agent, that can cause more than a fair share of headaches for your business. Individuals may have difficulty being available every workday from 8 to 5 — what happens if they go out for lunch, leave for vacation, or need a sick day? If a person is named as the registered agent, that person alone may receive service of process.

For that reason and others, I encourage entrepreneurs to consider a commercial registered agent.

Advantages of commercial registered agents:

  • They are available during regular business hours (as defined by the state) from Monday through Friday.
  • They have a system in place to quickly provide you with any legal documents they receive on your LLC’s or Corporation’s behalf.
  • They receive service of process at their address, not yours — which spares you the potential embarrassment of a process server showing up at your home or business when your visitors or customers are present.

Comparing Agents for Service of Process

The pool of commercial registered agents is large. And, as you can imagine, they don’t all have the same capabilities. Below are some characteristics to consider as you research commercial registered agent services providers.

  • Are they qualified to offer registered agent services in all 50 states? (That makes managing registered agent requirements easier for multi-state entities.)
  • Do they have a free online portal for organizing legal documents, government filings, and compliance tasks? (A central hub for all your critical notices and paperwork helps ensure nothing slips through the cracks.)
  • Do they offer volume discounts to LLCs and Corporations with multiple entities or locations? (Bulk discounts can save you a lot of money over the long-term when renewing registered agent services.)
  • Do they provide electronic delivery of service of process? (Most legal notices must be responded to within 20 calendar days, so speedy notification is critical!)
  • Do they provide state annual reports and franchise tax filing alerts?
  • Do they offer unlimited document scanning and forwarding? (Some do a certain amount for free but then charge for additional documents.)
  • Do they offer other services, such as business formation and compliance filing services?
  • Do they offer a money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with their services?
  • What rating have they achieved on Trustpilot? (Look for no less than Excellent!)

Keep Learning: Find and Compare Registered Agents for Service of Process

Assessing your present and future needs and identifying a registered agent who can fulfill them will allow you to make an informed decision that positions your company for growth and success.

Choose CorpNet as Your Agent for Service of Process

CorpNet can serve as your agent for service of process in any state. You can count on us for fast, reliable notification of any legal notices and official mailings your business needs to address.

Not Sure What’s Required in Your State?

If you’re not sure what’s required in your state of formation, click on a state below to learn more. We’ve provided detailed registered agent information by state to help you stay in compliance.

<a href="" target="_self">Nellie Akalp</a>

Nellie Akalp

Nellie Akalp is an entrepreneur, small business expert, speaker, and mother of four amazing kids. As CEO of, she has helped more than half a million entrepreneurs launch their businesses. Akalp is nationally recognized as one of the most prominent experts on small business legal matters, contributing frequently to outlets like Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post, Mashable, and Fox Small Business. A passionate entrepreneur herself, Akalp is committed to helping others take the reigns and dive into small business ownership. Through her public speaking, media appearances, and frequent blogging, she has developed a strong following within the small business community and has been honored as a Small Business Influencer Champion three years in a row.

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