A registered agent, also known as a resident agent or statutory agent is a business or individual appointed to receive service of process (SOP) when a business entity is involved in legal actions such as lawsuits or summons. The failure to maintain a registered agent can have negative effects on the company, such as penalty fees and revocation of the entity´s corporate or limited liability company legal status.
The purpose of a registered agent is to provide a legal address within a jurisdiction where there are persons available during normal business hours to facilitate legal service of process being served in the event of a legal action or lawsuit. The registered agent is also the person to whom the state government sends all official documents required each year for tax and legal purposes, such as franchise tax notices and annual report forms. The resident agent sends these suit documents and notices directly to the business entity. Registered agents also notify business entities if their state government filing status is in "Good Standing" or not. The reason that these notifications are a desired function of a registered agent is that it is difficult for a business entity to keep track of legislative changes and report due dates for multiple jurisdictions given the changing laws of different states.
Any person or business entity may act as a registered agent. Small corporations usually name themselves as the registered agent. Some states require that individuals that act as resident agents be members of the Board of Directors or be attorneys.
The services of a registered agent may be provided by attorneys or CPAs. However, the services are usually provided by commercial registered agent service companies.
Some jurisdictions require that the business entity appoint a third party as its registered agent.