What Is an LLC Registered Agent?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

What Is an LLC Registered Agent?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

An LLC registered agent is a person or business entity that the LLC appoints for receiving service of process and other important documents. All U.S. states require LLCs to have registered agents.

Woman holding folded piece of paper

The Role of a Registered Agent

States require LLCs to have registered agents to ensure that the state and others involved with the LLC have a means of getting important documentation to the company. For example, the state may need to provide the LLC with a reminder about an unfulfilled legal requirement, or another business may need to provide notice of a lawsuit being filed against the LLC. The role of the registered agent is simply to accept the documentation and turn it over to the appropriate representatives of the LLC.

Registered Agent Requirements

Each state sets its own rules for who can serve as registered agent for an LLC. These rules generally appear in the state's business-related statutes. For those not interested in reading laws, most states summarize who can serve as a registered agent on their Secretary of State's website.

Typically, states allow an individual or a different business entity (i.e. not the LLC itself) to serve as a registered agent. The agent must have a physical address that receives mail (i.e. not a P.O. box), and the address must be in the state where the LLC formed. Some companies operate as official registered agents for other companies—being a third-party registered agent is the service they provide.

The requirements for business entities serving as registered agents vary by state. For example, California only allows corporations that have registered separately as agents for service to be registered agents. Many other states have no such restriction.

When an LLC Member is a Registered Agent

The LLC itself, as a business entity, cannot serve as its own registered agent. However, one of the LLC's individual owners, called members, can serve as the LLC's registered agent.

The key benefit of this approach is that it's easy. LLC members can also be sure that important correspondence goes to one of the owners. The major downside is that the registered agent's information is public record.

Designating Your LLC's Registered Agent

An LLC must provide the state where it forms with the name and address of its registered agent when completing and submitting articles of organization. The designation is not a permanent choice. An LLC can change who serves as its registered agent, but it must update the state when it does.

Most states require an LLC to file annual updates with the state that include the name of the company's current registered agent. If an LLC's members plan to change their company's registered agent, the ideal time to do so is right before filing the annual report. If the LLC changes its registered agent during the year, the members must notify the state by using an official form, which is usually available on the Secretary of State's website.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.