It may seem very appealing to use a UPS store or PO Box for your registered agent, but this comes with a lot of risks. And in some states, this action can result in the closure of your business. Let’s walk through what a registered agent is and why opting to use a USP Store or PO Box for your registered agent is not the best course of action.
Who Needs a Registered Agent?
A registered agent (RA) is a person or company with the authority to accept service of process (legal documents and government notices) on behalf of a company. If you own a Limited Liability Company (LLC), C Corporation, S Corporation, Professional Corporation (PC), Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC), Limited Partnership (LP), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), or Nonprofit Corporation you will most likely need a registered agent.
If you conduct business in another state (foreign qualification), you must appoint and maintain a registered agent in every state where you do business. Conducting business doesn’t necessarily mean having employees or an office in another state. If you sell products online, you may need a registered agent in every state where you have customers and are registered to do business. Also, the registered agent must be a resident of that state and maintain a physical location there. However, the regulations for a business’s mailing address and the registered agent’s address differ by state.
Learn More: What is a Registered Agent?
What is a Service of Process?
A registered agent (also called a resident agent or statutory agent) is responsible for accepting service of process on behalf of the company it represents.
Some examples of service of process documents include:
- Official federal and state correspondence
- Subpoenas for information
- Tax notices from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and local tax authorities
- Summonses to appear in court
- Wage garnishment notices of an employee’s wages
- Corporate filing notifications
The difference between the standard mail a company receives and the service of process documents is the timeliness and legal nature of the documentation. Service of process refers to the legal process for notifying a business that legal action has been taken. Due to the high importance of service of process documents, each state establishes its own rules for the steps involved. Documentation usually involves recording the delivery date, called the date of service. And when the delivery has been made—that’s the service of process.
Because service of process typically involves a deadline, using a mailbox at the UPS or other similar store or a PO Box, where the mail remains until it is collected, is not an option.
Although some states may allow a business to have a PO Box or virtual address as their mailing address, a registered agent must have a physical address and maintain regular business hours between Monday through Friday. Service of process documents may be certified, requiring a signature, or the sender may demand that the paperwork be hand-delivered. Once the registered agent has received any service of process documents, they are required to scan the documents for digital delivery and/or forward the actual documents promptly.
Can You Be Your Own Company’s Registered Agent?
It’s crucial to check each state for its rules about serving as your own company’s registered agent. For example, a business entity in Montana cannot serve as its own registered agent. In Texas, the company can name itself as the statutory agent and have the registered office of the business office address be the same as the registered agent. However, the law states, “It cannot be a post office box that is part of a commercial mail or message service unless that commercial enterprise is the registered agent.”
In addition, Texas law requires every domestic or foreign filing entity to maintain a registered agent and office in Texas. Specifically, it states: “The registered office must be located at a street address where process may be personally served on the entity’s registered agent; may not be solely a mailbox service or a telephone answering service; and must have an employee available at the registered office during normal business hours to receive service of process, notice, or demand.”
In general, most states allow individuals (who are at least 18 years old and a resident of that state) and companies registered in their jurisdictions to provide registered agent services to businesses.
Depending on the state, registered agents can be:
- One of the business owners (i.e., an LLC member or corporate shareholder) who resides in the state
- An employee who lives in the state
- A friend or family member who meets the state’s age and availability requirements
- An online business filings company that offers registered agent services in the state
- A registered agent services provider that serves the state where the business is located
- An attorney or law firm that offers registered agent services in the state
- An accountant or accounting firm that offers registered agent services in the state
- A tax preparer or tax preparation firm that offers registered agent services in the state
Businesses operating in multiple states or expanding can benefit from choosing a registered agent that provides services nationally. Doing so offers consistency and convenience because all important notices and documents are delivered through one registered agent services provider. Also, renewing registered agent services is simpler since there’s just one company to submit renewal payments to.
Noncommercial vs. Commercial Registered Agent
In essence, a commercial registered agent is an individual or company that has filed a commercial registered agent listing statement with the Secretary of State, while a noncommercial one is not registered with the state. Both have the same responsibilities and duties; however, the commercial registered agent is already established in the state, has a physical address there, and is part of the state’s official listing. On most state forms, the business can name a commercial registered agent or a noncommercial registered agent. As long as there is a physical address for service of process, your company has fulfilled the registered agent requirement.
Learn More: Noncommercial vs. Commercial Registered Agent
Registered Agent Services
Although your company (or an employee) may be permitted to be your registered agent, there are several reasons why that’s not a good idea.
Let’s say you run your business from home. That would mean your home’s address would be part of the public record, and you could experience legal notices being delivered to your home, causing possible embarrassment in front of your family or neighbors. The same is true for your business’s office, where service of process could be delivered in front of customers and employees.
There’s an advantage to having important documentation delivered separately from non-urgent mail. You wouldn’t want the service of process documents to get lost in the bulk of daily mail. Plus, if you or an employee are the registered agent and you (or they) need to be out of the office for a while, there will be no one available for the service of process documents. And that would be problematic. Using a registered agent or registered agent services ensures that your crucial documents and notifications will be received promptly.
When you’re ready to hire a registered agent, CorpNet is here to help!
Appoint CorpNet as Your Registered Agent
CorpNet can act as your registered agent in any state ensuring your business stays compliant with any service of process, legal notices, or official mailings.