A corporation takes on a life of its own as a legal business entity.
But despite its independent legal status, the law requires each corporation to designate a registered agent, i.e. someone who is responsible for receiving tax and legal information on the corporation's behalf.
Although it's technically possible for a corporation to serve as its own registered agent, it is more likely that your company will have a registered agent who is a person or a professional registered agent service.
Registered agents are required to reside in the state of incorporation or registration. So in addition to having a registered agent in your home state, you may also need registered agents who reside in every state in which you are registered to do business.
The reason why each state requires you to have a resident registered agent is because the state needs a point person for communication with your company. Registered agents typically receive mail sent by the state, tax documents sent by the state's department of taxation, and legal documents that are delivered to initiate a lawsuit.
Here are some of the other things you should know about registered agents:
- Contact information. Registered agents are required to have an actual, physical address (rather than a PO box) and to be available during regular business hours. Also, you should know that the registered agents address is part of the public record. In some states, the registered agent's address will be the only listed address for the corporation.
- Qualifications. In theory, any individual that resides in the state qualifies to become a registered agent. As a shareholder in your corporation, you can designate yourself as your company's registered agent–as long as you're willing to provide a physical address. You could also petition the state to receive approval for the corporation to act as its own registered agent.
- Other alternatives. Whether you need a registered agent for your home state or for another state in which you do business, professional registered agent service providers are available to fill the registered agent's role in your company. Many business owners enjoy the convenience of a fee-based registered agent who offers compliance deadline reminders, corporate record maintenance, and other services in addition to fulfilling the basic requirements associated with being a registered agent.