What Is a Registered Agent?

A registered agent, sometimes also referred to as an agent for service or statutory agent, is your official point of contact with the authorities. When companies incorporate a new legal entity, they designate the registered agent or registered office address on the formation documents. 

Although appointing a registered agent may seem trivial and matter-of-fact, businesses should give serious consideration to choosing a registered agent who should provide corporations with reliable service long term. Here is more information about what a registered agent is, whether you are legally required to have one and how organizations can benefit from having professional registered agent services.

What Do Registered Agents Do?

The main function of a registered agent is to be a contact point for communication with the authorities. As a contact point, the registered agent receives official correspondence and notices of lawsuits, among other documentation.

The registered agent is responsible for receiving all official documents related to the company they represent, notifying them about the receipt and passing the documents to designated persons within an organization. Registered agents also keep official records of the company at their registered address as required by law.

Today, registered agent services often include much more than just providing a registered address within a jurisdiction. The most advanced providers of these services often expand to include broader aspects of entity management, including incorporation services, records keeping, obtaining necessary signatures and filings on behalf of their clients.

 Are You Legally Required to Have a Registered Agent?

Various jurisdictions have different requirements for appointing a registered agent. Meanwhile, in most cases, companies need to have a registered agent in one way or another. 

In the United States, you are legally required to list a registered agent as a part of your LLC or corporation package. A failure to designate a registered agent will make it impossible to register the business with the state. 

If a company fails to maintain a registered agent in the United States, the state can withhold permission to conduct business within its jurisdiction. Additionally, the company can lose the right to do business in other states, risks losing its name, and faces other negative legal consequences, which can eventually lead to the closure of business.

In Canada, the Canada Business Corporations Act requires all corporations to have a registered office in the Canadian province, specified in its incorporation package. Similarly to other jurisdictions, a failure to have a registered office in Canada doesn't allow to proceed with registration. Meanwhile, a failure to maintain a registered office can lead to negative consequences, inability to file an annual return for your corporation and consequent dissolution.

How Can Corporations Benefit from Registered Agent Services?

Companies benefit from having a registered agent for their legal entities in multiple ways beyond compliance with applicable regulations. By having someone as a statutory agent and point of contact for communication with the government and regulators, businesses ensure availability, timely response to notifications, privacy and confidentiality.

Having registered agent services ensures availability during normal business hours and allows the team to work on remote or flexible schedules. When all official communication regarding a legal entity is delivered to a registered agent, companies can rest assured that they will receive timely notifications about the receipt of any notices, which will be promptly forwarded for taking the necessary action without delay.

When organizations have their registered office at the agent's place of business, they create a barrier of privacy by not exposing their actual address to public records. When legal notices are delivered by a process server, having a registered agent service ensures that businesses don't receive legal notices at their principal place of business in the presence of their clients or partners. 

Besides, many companies offering registered agent services are present in multiple geographies and can provide coverage across various jurisdictions. Having one point of contact for all registered agent services can significantly speed up entity management and save time and costs as organizations expand to enter new markets.

Who Can Be a Registered Agent?

Different jurisdictions may have various requirements regarding registered agents, so it is essential to check the applicable regulations to ensure compliance. In Canada, individuals aged above 18 and Canadian incorporated companies can act as registered agents.

In some provinces, the registered agent should have a legal residence, in case they are individuals, or a registered address as a company. In other cases, companies may appoint their lawyer or one of the employees or trustees to act as their registered agent. However, in many cases, businesses choose professional registered agent service providers who can ensure consistency of service and compliance.

How to Choose a Registered Agent for Your Business

Choosing the right provider for registered agent services is essential to ensure compliance. It is also important to evaluate if the potential vendor possesses the capacity to offer necessary services to the organization when it grows, multiplies the number of legal entities, or needs more services and legal technology.

Many bigger organizations prefer a single provider of registered agent services for all or most of their legal entities to ensure efficiency and cut time and effort on interacting with multiple agents. Startups with one of few legal entities should also seek professional registered agents who would be able to stay with the organization as it goes through the growth stage.

The importance of utilizing legal technology by registered agents cannot be overestimated. When registered agents provide service to multiple legal entities, they need to use entity management software and tools to ensure timely notifications, record keeping, integration and instant communication with their clients.

The best registered agent service providers can offer much more than just receiving official documentation and notices, providing their clients with full legal back office support. These services can include opening new legal entities, incorporation, obtaining signatures, filings and other elements of entity management, allowing paralegals and in-house legal teams to concentrate on more strategic governance and compliance issues.

Contact Athennian Team for More Information

Athennian offers law firms and in-house legal professionals comprehensive entity management solutions, consolidating ownership, governance, compliance and other elements of corporate identity into a single platform. For more information about registered agent services and Athennian entity management software, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our team for a customized demo.

Learn More About Athennian's Registered Agent Services

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