Find a Registered Agent for Service of Process

May 16, 2024

A registered agent for service of process is a person who has a responsibility to be available during regular business hours to receive legal documents and notices, such as lawsuits and summons, on behalf of a company. Their duty is to make sure that these legal papers get to the appropriate person or office as quickly as possible to avoid delays in responses or legal penalties. Since they play such an important role, it’s important to understand how you can find the best-registered agent for service of process for your business. 

Looking for a California registered agent? On-Call Legal is your go-to expert for service of process within both California and nationwide. Our licensed process servers are always available to help you receive, file, and deliver your legal papers without delay. Book a free consultation with us today to discuss how we can help you manage your legal papers!

By considering various factors such as level of experience and expertise, location, reliability, and costs, you can make informed decisions while choosing suitable registered agents. This guide will cover these factors in detail, the appointment process, and how to locate a company’s registered agent.

How to Find a Company’s Registered Agent

How to Find a Company’s Registered Agent

Companies usually include the list of their registered agents on their paperwork during the stages of filing for formation. These documents eventually go public and become accessible after the business is formed. Whether it’s a corporation or LLC, the same process of accessing their information applies.

As a process server looking to serve legal documents to a company’s registered agent, you may need to locate the office address of the authorized agent for receiving service of process. This isn’t just limited to the process server, as anyone or any entity trying to contact a business might reach out to its registered agent.

The process of finding the registered agent of a company varies depending on the state where the business is located. Even if it’s a business with multiple locations, they are mandated to have registered agents in all states where they operate. Hence, you may have to contact their agent in the state where you’re serving documents.

In that particular state of operation of the business, you can start by contacting the secretary of state or department of state office where the company filed its formation paperwork. In some states, businesses register through different state departments or commissions. Therefore, you need to understand what state filing office to contact in your state. For example, in New Jersey, it’s the Department of Treasury that registers businesses. 

Most of these filing offices may grant you access to the registration information of businesses on their websites. All you may need to do to access the information is do a business entity search, but not all states have an online business search.

How to Conduct a Business Entity Search?

If your state has an online business search, you can find a company’s agent by following these procedures.

  • Enter the state’s agency’s or secretary of state’s website and locate the tab for “businesses,” “business entities,” or “corporations,” depending on the website’s interface. In some, you may see “business search” or “search businesses.”
  • Fill in the company’s name in the search box and select the exact company with its exact name from the search result.
  • After opening the company in the search result, you can access their public business filings under their filing history. Documents you’ll find include the company’s article of organization or article of incorporation, amendments, the company’s registered agents, and other reports.

In California, you can conduct an online business search to look for their registered agents on the Bizfile Online website. However, if your state doesn’t have an online business search, you can call the state’s filing office directly to ask about the company’s registered agent. As long as the company was registered under that state filing office, they have its registered agent’s information.

What is a Registered Agent for Service of Process?

What is a Registered Agent for Service of Process?

A registered agent for service of process, also known as a statutory agent is any person or entity that a business, such as a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), appoints to receive legal documents on their behalf. A registered agent makes sure your business doesn’t miss essential paperwork like lawsuits, subpoenas, tax notices, audit requests, and other relevant documents. This is especially important for legal businesses since they typically receive a lot of legal documents.

Aside from receiving legal documents on your behalf, registered agents also pass these legal documents to the right person in your corporation or LLC to ensure you fulfill your legal obligations in any legal matters. Note that anyone can become a registered agent for process service as long as they are up to 18 years or older.

Legal Responsibilities of an Agent for Service of Process

Legal Responsibilities of an Agent for Service of Process

The legal responsibilities of registered agents vary depending on the specific state of your business operation. However, there are a few general requirements and responsibilities to take note of. 

In addition to receiving and forwarding legal and tax documents, they review the documents to understand their nature and timing and avoid missing specified deadlines. They also maintain the privacy of sensitive information in the documents so it won’t fall into unauthorized hands.

Your registered agent is also responsible for ensuring that your business complies with tax and legal requirements. For example, they help your business to respond to court notices and obey tax regulations as fast as possible.

Since agents are an official point of contact for business organizations, they must have a physical address in the state where the business is located. This serves as their registered office. Additionally, they must always be available at their office during regular business hours, mostly Mondays to Fridays. Otherwise, the process server can’t successfully deliver the legal documents or notices to them. Registered agents must also be well-versed in these process server laws to avoid any potential issues due to the service of process.

Benefits of Having a Registered Agent

Benefits of Having a Registered Agent

Hiring a registered agent for your business helps you stay compliant with state rules and regulations by ensuring that you receive and respond to legal documents on time. Their duty to remain available during work hours prevents you from missing important documents due to their absence.

With the right registered agent, you do not have to worry about the privacy of your personal information. Since the registered agent’s office address is publicly listed for service of process, you do not have to disclose your personal address. This helps shield your personal address from potential attacks, thus protecting your privacy. They also protect your business information with strict confidentiality from hackers, cybercriminals, and any unauthorized individual or entity.

Moreover, having a professional receive and manage your legal documents gives you peace of mind, knowing that you may not have to worry about missing notices and deadlines. Compared to acting as your own registered agent, working with a registered agent service frees more time for you to focus on your personal life, work, and other important matters.

Additionally, no business likes being served court notices or summonses in front of employees, clients, investors, or during important meetings. This can be embarrassing and can affect potential business deals, especially if it has to do with the integrity of the business. Thus, having a third-party registered agent helps avoid these challenges as the server won’t have to deliver the documents directly to you or in front of potential clients.

How to Find a Registered Agent for Service of Process

How to Find a Registered Agent for Service of Process

To successfully find a registered agent for your industry, you can research potential agents, check their credentials and customer reviews, and consider your company’s specific requirements. When researching potential agents, it’s reliable and more cost-effective to go for companies that offer registered agent services. You can access a list of registered agents from the business filing office in your state. Your state filing office can also offer recommendations.

Evaluate the agent’s credentials by checking how experienced and reputable they are. Make sure the agent is registered and has a proven track record of reliable agent service. Don’t neglect customers’ online reviews and testimonials of the agent’s past services. They help you establish important facts about the agent, like their track record, experience, etc.

The agent’s existing client load is also an important factor to consider, as you don’t want to experience delays because they have many other clients to attend to. Check how many businesses they are currently working with. This information is available online. Alternatively, you can directly ask the agent.

You also need to consider your industry-specific requirements concerning registered agents. For instance, your industry may require an agent who is an expert and professional in managing sensitive information or legal documents. Thus, the agent must have past experience working with companies in your industry.

Try to compare the costs of multiple registered agents with the level of their services, including any additional fees associated with document forwarding and other relevant duties.

How to Hire a Registered Agent

How to Hire a Registered Agent

Hiring a registered agent for your LLC or corporation involves the following procedures: You can begin by researching potential agents in your state of operation and making a list of them, considering their reputation, experience, and costs. 

For instance, a newly registered agent can accidentally make you miss important deadlines or provide late replies to government requests. Be sure to work with a registered agent that has successfully handled countless government summonses and legal documents, including tax notices. Speaking of costs, registered agents have a different fee structure from the cost of hiring a process server, which is between $40 and $200 per service in California. The average California registered agent service cost ranges from $100 to $130 per year, or $10 per month.

Contact the potential agents on your list to ask about their fee structures, the kinds of services they provide, and any other service agreements. After consideration, select an agent whose services align with your needs and your business requirements. Then sign the service agreement. Ensure they include all required services with their terms and conditions in the agreement.

Move on to appointing the agent by submitting a form containing the agent’s name and contact information to your state’s filing office. After the state office confirms the appointment, notify the registered agent and provide any relevant documentation to them. Always communicate with them to ensure that they are performing their tasks and fulfilling your legal obligations.

The Registration Process

The Registration Process

At the initial stage of registering your business, you have to appoint a registered agent for your business when filing your LLC article of organization or article of incorporation if it’s a corporation. It can either be an individual or a corporate registered agent. For corporate California registered agents, you must ensure their corporation has filled out and submitted Form 1505 to the secretary of state.

The procedure for registration depends on whether you’re registering a new business or changing your current registered agent. This process of registration can be accomplished with the following procedures:

If you’re filing for the formation of your business, you can register your company online on your state’s secretary of state’s website. You’ll be required to fill out your registered agent’s name and their contact information on the online form. Your state may charge a fee for filling out the form. For example, the California Secretary of State’s website charges a $70 filing fee.

When you’re filing by mail, download your state’s article of organization form and fill in the required fields, including your agent’s name and contact information. Then submit a hard copy to the secretary of state. In California, download Form LLC-1: Articles of Organization and pay a filing fee of $70. Then fill in the necessary details, including your agent’s information in Article 3.

Changing your registered agent may have its own unique filing forms, depending on your state and the type of company. For example, changing an LLC registered agent in California demands that you file Form LLC-12. For stock corporations, you should file Form SI-550, while Form SI-100 is for changing nonstock corporation registered agents.

You can submit these forms and any requested documents in person, online, or by mail. Be sure to locate the online portal, physical address, or P.O. box of the secretary of state or the filing office in your state.

After registering your agent, always maintain contact with them to keep them updated on any changes in contact information or business status.

National and Local Agents vs a Legal Company

National and Local Agents vs a Legal Company

The services of a national registered agent differ from those of a local registered agent in terms of costs, convenience, expertise, and the level of service offered. Let’s compare their pros and cons.

National Registered Agent

Pros:

  • Hiring a national registered agent often guarantees extensive experience and expertise when handling your business’s legal and compliance matters. 
  • They also have wider coverage across multiple states. This nationwide coverage can be beneficial for matters that require out-of-state subpoena service of process, especially if your business operates in multiple states.
  • Some national agents have online platforms where you can easily access your documents and keep track of compliance. 
  • In terms of reliability, they are often reliable in handling court documents and notices.

Cons:

  • As much as they offer quality service, their fees can be more expensive than those of local agents or legal companies. 
  • They may offer less personalized service because of their large size and scale. 
  • Depending on the national registered agent, some offer quality support to business clients, while others can be less responsive.

Local Registered Agent

Pros:

  • Unlike national registered agents, local registered agents usually offer more personalized service, and they understand the local business environment better. 
  • They are not as expensive as national registered agents. 
  • Just like the name implies, because they are local agents you can easily access them in person for meetings or picking up documents, especially for process servers delivering paperwork within a county like Los Angeles.

Cons:

  • Local registered agents don’t cover multiple states like national agents. Their services are constrained to one state, which could limit businesses that operate in many states. 
  • Some of them may have limited experience and expertise in legal matters. 
  • They usually have fewer technological tools than national agents. This could reduce the efficiency of their operations.

Need Legal Support?

Choosing the right registered agent for your business ensures you comply with state regulations when handling legal documents and court summonses. It protects your privacy as a business owner and gives you peace of mind knowing your documents are handled properly. To secure an experienced registered agent for your business, research reputable agents, and once you find one, like On-Call Legal, contact them to get started.

Contact our team of highly adept Los Angeles process servers at On-Call Legal. We can assist your firm every step of the way with our all-inclusive support services. Schedule a free consultation with us today to ensure your business remains compliant and protected!

 

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