The business laws in all 50 states require licensed business entities to use the services of a registered agent for the purpose of receiving service of process and to accept legal documents. A registered agent ensures that the state government and private parties can communicate with the company and deliver any necessary paperwork to the company.
By the state laws governing limited liability companies, business owners are designated as members. In filing for a business license from the state, the member or members of the company must list their names and usually their addresses as well.
State laws also require the designation of a registered agent. A registered agent is an individual or company authorized to accept service of process and other legal documents on behalf of the LLC. If a party wishes to claim damages in court, for example, a court-issued summons must be delivered to the registered agent. If the state needs a tax or license filing and must send the necessary papers to the LLC, the registered agent is responsible for receiving those papers and forwarding them to the responsible officers of the LLC.
Most states require that registered agents have a physical address in the same state where the LLC operates. The registered agent must be present at that address and must be available during normal business hours throughout the year to accept court process and other papers. A passive post office box cannot serve as a registered agent's address.
A registered agent may or may not be a member, owner, employee or manager of the LLC. The registered agent may be an entirely separate organization or individual. An attorney handling the affairs of the LLC, for example, may serve as its registered agent. Some companies function solely as registered agents and serve a roster of clients, who pay monthly or annual retainer fees for the service.