A limited liability company is a business structure with legal features of both a corporation and a partnership; the owners of an LLC are called "members." An LLC must have a registered agent, a person or business designated to accept legal and tax notices for the company, on file with the state business department. Some states allow the LLC to act as its own agent, while others mandate another entity be used.
The exact requirements a registered agent must meet vary slightly by state, but some general qualifications apply. A person who is acting as an LLC's agent must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the state the company is doing business in. A business entity acting as an agent must be authorized to conduct business in the state and have a street mailing address there.
The registered agent receives legal documents, such as notification of lawsuits against the LLC and tax documents from the state revenue department. The agent also receives notices from the state department where the LLC's formation or foreign registration was filed, such as a reporting form the LLC is required to file once per year. The agent is responsible for delivering the notices and papers to the LLC.
The use of a registered agent prevents legal paperwork from being delivered to the personal homes of members or getting lost in the shuffle of the LLC's daily business operations. However, the agent must deliver the documents to the LLC's members without delay; otherwise, the LLC may face penalties for missing state or tax department deadlines and lose the chance to respond to a legal action.
The name of the registered agent must be included in the LLC's formation documents, such as the articles of organization. Some states require the signature of the registered agent on the articles or a separate form indicating acceptance of the obligation. The registered agent on file may resign by contacting the state department, and the LLC is notified and given a time period to find a new agent. If the LLC does not register a new agent with the state by the given deadline, the company may face penalties, such as fines and the loss of a business license.