How to Choose a Registered Agent: Act as Your Own or Hire a Professional Service Company

Woman accepting service of process
In our last post, we covered the basics of what a registered agent is, what they do and who can fulfill the role. If you missed it, check out the post here. If you’re not sure how to choose a registered agent, today’s post is a good starting point. In this post, we will cover what you should consider when choosing to name an individual (possibly yourself) or a professional registered agent service company.

Can I act as my own registered agent?

If you meet the requirements to be a registered agent, the answer is “yes.” Although, there are some things you should consider before you take on the role yourself:

  • Your registered agent must have a current, physical address in the state where your business is located. Furthermore, they must always be available at that address to receive court notices during “normal” business hours. That typically means 8am-5pm Monday-Friday, year-round. That means no leaving the office during the day for off-site business meetings, errands, personal appointments, vacations, etc. That’s a hefty, time-consuming responsibility.
  • If you use your home address, it’s important to understand that your address will be made public. This can raise privacy concerns for many. Furthermore, it can also mean a significant increase in the junk mail delivered to your home. Marketers often use this information for direct mail campaigns—and they sure do love to send junk mail!
  • If you act as your own registered agent, you’ll also have to update your address information anytime you move. Making address changes to your registered agent usually means mandatory paperwork and additional filing fees. Oh, and if you forget to update your registered agent’s address, it can result in penalties, suspension or even the involuntary dissolution of your company. None of which is desirable.

You can save a nominal amount of money by acting as your own registered agent. So, that’s a benefit. That said, while the annual fee for professional registered agent services can vary from provider to provider, you shouldn’t expect to pay more than $200 a year (per business entity, per state). That’s not a lot of money considering the peace of mind that comes along with it.


What you should expect when hiring a professional service company?

There are a number of companies that offer registered agent services. Just remember, not all registered agents are created alike. If you’re comparing vendors, it’s important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Utilizing a professional service company for registered agent services should mean:

  • You get subject matter experts. Professional registered agents are familiar with the state-specific filing and regulatory requirements.
  • They are available during state-required business hours to accept service of process on behalf of your company.
  • They offer a consistent physical address. And if they do move, they handle updating the address information on file with the state, so you don’t have to.
  • You enjoy confidentiality and privacy. In addition to preventing your address from being made public, a professional registered agent can eliminate the potentially embarrassing situation of being served at your home or place of business.
  • They can easily identify service of process or other important legal documents have been received.
  • You have access to skilled customer support teams that can address any questions you have.

Again, there are a lot of professional service companies that provide this service. Just make sure you ask questions and evaluate service levels before choosing one. Most importantly, make sure you appoint an experienced provider you can trust. Before you decide which provider to use, check out this blog post on what to consider when choosing a professional registered agent provider.