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What does a Resident Agent do for a Company?

A resident agent is an individual or business entity designated by a company to receive official paperwork and legal documents on behalf of that company in a given state. Every state requires businesses, such as LLCs and corporations, to have a resident agent when they register to conduct business in that state.

Why Do Companies Need a Resident Agent?

1. Legal Requirements: States require businesses to designate a resident agent so that the state and other entities have an official point of contact to communicate with the company.

2. Reliability: The resident agent is intended to ensure that important legal documents, like lawsuits or state compliance notices, are received and passed on to the company promptly. This way, businesses don’t miss crucial deadlines or notifications.

3. Privacy: Having a resident agent allows company leaders to avoid potentially being served with legal papers in front of clients, staff, or at their homes.

Duties of a Resident Agent:

1. Receiving Documents: The primary role is to accept and receive legal documents and official notices on behalf of the company.

2. Forwarding Documents: Once received, the agent is responsible for ensuring that the company is notified and receives these documents.

3. Maintaining Availability: The agent must have a physical address (not a P.O. Box) in the state of registration where documents can be hand-delivered during regular business hours.

Choosing a Resident Agent:

Companies can select an individual or a professional service as their resident agent, as long as the chosen party meets the state’s requirements. The key considerations when choosing are reliability, availability, and confidentiality. A good place to start is an owner or key employee if he or she is located in the given state. If the company cannot identify an individual, it can also pick a professional resident agent to serve.

Changing a Resident Agent:

If a company decides to change its resident agent, it typically must notify the state, often by filing a form and possibly paying a fee. Not doing so can lead to complications, including penalties.


Having a resident agent is not just a formality but part of ensuring a company’s smooth operation and compliance with state laws. It provides a reliable and efficient way for the state and other parties to communicate essential legal information to a company.


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