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If you are starting a business, you may have heard about registered agents and been asking yourself, “what is a registered agent?”

What is a Registered Agent?

In United States business law, a registered agent, also known as a resident agent or statutory agent, is a business or individual designated to receive service of process (SOP) when a business entity is a party in a legal action such as a lawsuit or summons.

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All states require a business which is not a sole proprietorship or general partnership to have a registered agent. The registered agent address is the address that will be used by the state for any official legal and tax correspondence. The registered agent address must be a physical, in-state street address; P.O. Boxes are not acceptable.

A registered agent is required for each entity, that is, each corporation and limited liability company (LLC).

Failing to register and designate a registered agent may foreclose or hinder the company’s ability to legally enter into contracts and gain access to state courts. Moreover, it may subject the company to monetary, civil, and possibly criminal sanctions. Also, failure to maintain a registered agent in may cause your company to fall out of “good standing” within the state. This will subject your license to do business within a state to forfeiture, with monetary penalties assessed to reinstate your company to a “good standing” again.

In other words, a registered agent is an important component of any new or existing business because the agent will be sent all important notices from the state and will be served with any lawsuits against the company.  While it’s best to hope that a lawsuit is never served, it also helps to prepare for the worst and choosing the correct registered agent for your new company is as important as choosing the correct nanny or babysitter for your new child.

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