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Everything you ever wanted to know about registered agents

Updated February 2018

When you start your own business, you practically learn a new language with all the terms, acronyms, and abbreviations you have to memorize. So maybe you’ve heard the term “registered agent,” but filed it away in your List of Terms to Look Up. Hey, we get it. We have put together this handy cheat sheet to help you understand what a registered agent does, whether or not you need one, and what to do about it.

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What’s a registered agent?

A registered agent (RA) is someone who receives important legal and tax documents on behalf of a business. They have to be able to personally accept the mail—so, not a mailbox, basically—and be available 100% of the time during business hours.

Do I really need one?

You really do. Although the laws vary by state, almost every U.S. business is required to have a registered agent. If you don’t comply, the state could fine you or shut down your business.

Wait, can I be my own registered agent?

Maybe! Check your state laws. But most business owners choose not to. Like skinny dipping, just because you legally can doesn’t make it a good idea.

Why not?

Privacy, for one thing. Registered agents are required to have their names and addresses made public—so if you work from home, that means your home address will be available for anyone to find. But even if you work out of a separate building, being your own RA is a major hassle. Registered agents have to be on call during all business hours, so if someone tries to deliver a document while you’ve stepped out for lunch, you could get fined. And what if you go on vacation? Or take a business trip? What if someone delivers an embarrassing legal summons right in front of your customers? Total nightmare.

OK, I get it. How do I find a third-party registered agent?

Glad you asked! As it happens, you can get registered agent service through Rocket Lawyer in all 50 states. For a small annual fee, you can outsource all that headache and paperwork to us. Rocket Lawyer will scan and email all your official documents to you immediately, so you’re never left waiting and wondering. We’ll even throw away your junk mail for you.

How do I sign up?

Just visit our website, answer a couple of questions, and we’ll take care of the rest.


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